Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Esmée Koppius
When Nathalie was 16 years old she was involved in a road traffic accident resulting in her breaking her neck at level C6/7. This has left her completely paralysed from the chest down. The accident never deterred her from driving and in 2015 Nathalie became the first ever female spinal injured driver to be granted her race license in the UK.
However, her influence on international motorsport is much greater than his own career. Nathalie is chairman of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission, protective gear to bring more people with disabilities into the sport. Over the years, great examples like Alex Zanardi, Billy Monger, Robert Kubica, Nicolas Hamilton (Lewis Hamilton's brother) and Le Mans hero Frederic Sausset overcame huge obstacles to compete.
In an interview for the #ThinkingForward series, McGloin exposes his clear vision of purpose: when a child with a disability can watch an F1 GP and say, “I want to do this one day” and that it is possible.
In another interview, Nathalie told more about how she sees her image and representation in the sport: "Motor racing is the only sport in the world where there is no subcategory for drivers with disabilities. As a disabled driver, this ambiguity of leaving my disability in the pits, if I want, when I'm in a race car, it's the reason I fell in love with the sport. It's the reason I get so much from it. Many disabled drivers will say the same; being in control of something so powerful, a race car, on a circuit , racing alongside predominantly healthy men is a grand thing. I describe it as freedom. I'm free to do what I can in that car, to the best of my ability, in terms of bravery and my skill level. My handicap is the reason I work so hard and to try to make motorsport more accessible because I want people to experience what I love about motorsport. “
On overcoming the trauma and getting into a car again, she stated, "I'm totally in control of the cars I drive. I'm in control on the edge. The confidence, accepting my injury, the feeling of being accepted has given me so much back that I will be eternally grateful. I get so much out of it every time I sit in a race car."
Jean Todt, former president of the FIA, has named Nathalie chairman of the FIA 2017 disability and Accessibility Commission. About the role she commented: “ But there's a lot to do first, there's a lot to do with legislation for people with disabilities to receive progress permits. Rather no international sporting code to facilitate the participation of the disabled, it had been drafted years ago. Compete without an example from security. In addition to looking for ways to encourage more people to take up the sport, through the scholarships of disabled riders, which gives the highest level of safety equipment because we must make sure that we demonstrate that racing with a disability is a safe race. It was created because, although the cars are being accepted in countries with the presence of a certificate; homologated for being adapted were running outside of their homologation papers so were entered in a separate class which is not the point of handicap participation in races, we all want to race on equal terms. The certificate that the place in practice with a disability was offered, can now compete for that place in practice.”
Nathalie got titles on and off the many tracks:
- Helped to form a Spinal Track NGO
- In 2015, she became the first woman in the UK with a spinal injury to receive a pilot license
- Competed in Club Championship, and her first win in 2018
- In 2019, she became the first woman with a disability to compete in the Rally
“I think motorsport is a credible platform to promote especially the EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) issues that companies are promoting at the moment. For the inclusion of our sport, because we don't discriminate against men and women competing together, riders with disabilities and riders without disabilities together, I think we have an almost greater role to play for people with disabilities in society by showing that we are classified in the same way as people with disabilities. people without disabilities. Because there are many societies that may not be as proactive with disability discrimination legislation. I feel that we can have a social impact simply by competing on a level playing field. We have a greater role to play than simply facilitating the participation of people with disabilities in motorsport.”
“When I'm piloting, my wheelchair is in the pits. When I line up on the grid wearing my helmet, no one knows I'm a woman or that I have a spinal injury. I'm just another pilot, and that's the way it should be."
Follow DIVEBOMB on all our socials: