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TX: 21.01.10 - Disabled Motorsport

PRESENTER: SHARI VAHL
THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.

VAHL
One of the spin offs from Formula One racing has been a range of transferable technologies, as they're called, that have found their way into the cars that you and I drive - us mere mortals. For example: ABS braking; power steering and lighter alloys are now often offered as standard. Advances in steering, gear change and car design means that now motor sport is more accessible for enthusiasts with disabilities who'd like to have a go themselves. And as part of our series on disability and leisure Henrietta Harrison went to the carting track at the Autosport International Show last year, where specially adapted cars were being unveiled.

LEVY
It's a standard go-kart, just a bit of a job to climb in it.

HARRISON
David Levy gearing up to raise his hand controlled car at the race track at Birmingham NEC.

LEVY
It's been adapted in that it's got a motorcycle type twist grip for the accelerator and on my left is a pull lever for the brakes.

The foot pedals have been disconnected, so there's no chance of accidentally going - going full throttle.

HARRISON
How fast are you going to go on this?

LEVY
Well hopefully whatever the maximum speed is of this kart.

CLIP FROM FORMULA ONE RACE

HARRISON
The moment Lewis Hamilton pulled past Timo Glock to become the youngest ever Formula One world champion.

CLIP FROM FORMULA ONE RACE

And if you have aspirations to follow in Hamilton's footsteps karting is the way to go. The adapted cars, launched in Birmingham are the result of a collaboration between the Tournament Stars of Tomorrow and Karting Endeavour. Kumar Moote [phon.] from Karting for the Disabled hopes the launch will lead to more karting venues across the UK offering the sport to everybody.

MOOTE
It allows disabled people who are motor sport enthusiasts to actually actively participate in the sport. It also allows them to race amongst themselves and indeed against their able-bodied counterparts.

HARRISON
There's several hundred karting venues across the UK - how accessible are they to people with disabilities?

MOOTE
A small proportion of them are very immediately accessible. An increased proportion are accessible to disabled spectators but not a huge number of the established karting centres are accessible to disabled participants.

HARRISON
If you're not keen to get behind the wheel of a go-kart the motoring club - Motorsport Endeavour - organises driving and spectator events for car fans with disabilities. Here, at the Williams Formula One factory, a group of 20 are watching technicians put the final touches to the FW31. Very few people are allowed into this part of the factory but Sir Frank Williams, himself a paraplegic, has made the rare decision to open his doors to the club. Graham Raphael runs Motorsport Endeavour.

RAPHAEL
You know many people have got a disability of one sort or another. They love motorcars and they may or may not know actually how to pursue that. I think without a doubt what can happen is that somebody has an accident and loses something and their self-confidence goes and driving to them can really open the doors to an entirely new life.

HARRISON
One of the car fans enjoying the tour of Williams Formula One is Steve Tarrant. He lost his leg whilst working as a marshal at the Goodwood Festival of Speed eight years ago.

TARRANT
I was marshalling at the finish line back in 2000 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and chequered flag in hand I unfortunately was hit by a Formula One Lotus doing approximately about 140 mile an hour which had lost control at the last corner. And my fire cover - Andy Carpenter - he unfortunately lost his life in the accident, as did the driver as well. So I'm extremely lucky just to be here.

HARRISON
How would you say that you faced up to your disability?

TARRANT
Basically by going straight back to the track and seeing if I still had the nerve to actually be there. I was lucky in that Lord March, who owned the Goodwood estate, allowed me to go back to Goodwood for the September revival meeting that year, some 12 weeks after the accident. I was nervous but having put myself through it I came away with the biggest smile on my face and knew that my life hadn't disappeared at all. And therefore my endeavour after that was to get back there and be part of it again.

VAHL
And since that report was first broadcast the specially adapted karts have been put on to the Canon Raceways in Walsall in the West Midlands. As yet there's no other karting venue at the moment that have taken them up but the charity Karting for the Disabled says it's still actively working on it.

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