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Woman Spotlight Wednesday: Nathalie McGloin

Written by Naira Tarek, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Women have played an influential role throughout the history of motor racing. Many have taken to the wheels of motorsport machines, while numerous figures have worked tirelessly on the sidelines in various roles, shaping the racing world to the present day. Woman Spotlight Wednesday aims to take a look at the tales of these superwomen, who have surpassed various hurdles to reach where they are today.

With the rapid increase in the presence of women in motorsports, we could not help but witness the incredible amount of inspiring backstories behind them all! From engineers to drivers, and presenters, each woman influencer has had a unique story of emerging into the sport.

One of the stories that captured everyone’s heart was Nathalie McGloin’s. McGloin is a source of inspiration to all the people around the world who think disability is an obstacle that is impossible to overcome. An obstacle considered a dealbreaker for achieving dreams. Now, who is Nathalie McGloin? How did she shape thousands of mindsets towards a never-ending loop of positive thoughts regarding dreams?

Image Credit: Joe Portlock / LAT Images

Nathalie McGloin is an incredibly remarkable woman, one who has broken down stereotypes, and proven that disability should never hinder one’s pursuit of dreams. She got into a car accident at a young age of 16, which caused her a neck injury of level C6/7, meaning paralysis from the chest down.

She is the first female tetraplegic racing driver in the world, and in 2015, she became the first female with a spinal injury, to obtain a racing license in the United Kingdom. Not only four years later, but she also joined the motorsport world, and became the first-ever female disabled rally driver. There is only one thing left to say: What an inspiration!

Through her immense achievements and societal advocacy, Nathalie has inspired so many individuals to believe in their own potential and embrace their disability with a different mindset: capable and empowered, not weak and unhopeful. Not only did she have to fight her way through a male-dominated sport, but she also had to fight twice through her mind and her career to prove herself to not anyone but herself and anyone who is willing to fight for their dreams.

Currently, she is an ambassador for Wings for Life, and Dare to Be Different (D2BD). Wings for Life is a charity that funds research to cure spinal cord injuries. On the other hand, D2BD is a joint initiative by Susie Wolff and the Motor Sports Association, started to encourage girls to follow their dreams despite their disability, and showcase the inclusivity and diversity of the sport globally.

A famous quote was said by the inspiring role model: “When I’m racing I leave my wheelchair in the pits. When I’m lining up on that grid with my helmet on, no-one knows I’m female or have a spinal injury. I’m just another driver – and that’s the way it should be." Her first season in motorsport as a racing driver was in 2015 and 2016, and this sparked an idea within her, which is to co-find a charity called Spinal Track, dedicated to providing an enjoyable rally experience for all disabled drivers.

Image Credit: E CAM

During an interview with Red Bull, Nathalie spoke about her earlier years before the accident. She was not into racing; she was a teenager who focused on her studies, completed her GCSEs, and started thinking about the university she wanted to study at, but then all of that changed right after the accident. Her resilience to achieve goals grew even wider, and she did not want to watch her dreams slowly fade away due to injury.

“In 2018, I got my first outright race win during the Walter Hayes weekend at Silverstone. It was incredible. Behind the wheel of a racing car, I just feel freedom. My wheelchair is in the pits, my disability is irrelevant, and I’m racing against non-disabled people on the race track.” Nathalie mentioned.

Image Credit: Isis Boundy / Matt Ford

Fast forwarding to another wonderful achievement that also took place in 2018, Nathalie became the Disability and Accessibility Commission President with the FIA. The commission is responsible for the rules and regulations surrounding motorsport on an international level, not just locally.

She also mentioned, “Not only is holding this position a great honour, but it is something I’m hugely passionate about because it’s important in making sure that motorsport is accessible and continues to be accessible. The creation of this commission has changed what it means to be a disabled person in motorsport because now, we are recognised and catered for in a proper way. It has huge implications for disabled people’s value of themselves in the sport.”

Last, but not the least, Nathalie’s current big dream is to create a team, primarily for disabled individuals, so it would be of great value throughout the industry, and provide plenty of guidance and inspiration to those wanting to pursue their dreams, but think their disability is a weakness, rather than an incredibly powerful chance to grow.

Here, the dream is to forever have strong and inspiring humans that go way beyond being called “role models," and here is to forever finding our strength through Nathalie McGloin, and many other beautiful individuals! Despite being paralysed from the chest down, she has not allowed her condition to stand in the way of her passion for motorsport. Her story serves as a powerful reminder -With determination and resilience, disability does not define a person's abilities or limit their dreams.

Do not let anything stop you from chasing your dreams!

Check the full interview of Red Bull with Nathalie McGloin through this link!


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