RACING WITH A BRAIN INJURY
AM AMAZING STORY OF MIND-OVER-MATTER AND PURE DETERMINATION
Warren McKinlay, a motorsport enthusiast and military veteran from Braintree, Essex, is one of Team BRIT’s most experienced drivers. He has a brain injury.
McKinlay, 35, served in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers as a Lance Corporal before a life-changing incident that had devastating effects.
McKinlay, a keen motorcyclist, was out riding when he hit a tree at 60 MPH which saw him pinned between the bike and the tree, breaking his pelvis, back and ribs and puncturing both lungs. It wasn’t until he was sent to Headley Court, a rehabilitation centre for military troops, that it was noted that Warren had also suffered a brain injury as a result of the incident.
For 18 months after the accident Warren experienced ‘Cotard’s Syndrome’, a disorder that affects one-in-a-billion people. The syndrome, which resulted from the brain injury, meant that Warren was convinced he had died in the crash and that he was a ghost, floating through life. It affected his life enormously, losing 25 kilos in the process as he believed that he didn’t need to eat or sleep as he was ‘no longer here.’
Slowly, Warren recovered from the syndrome but still lives with the challenges caused by the brain injury. Warren says “having a brain injury means I deal with a lot of feelings of frustration, as you often feel that you know how to do something, and you want to do it, but you can’t.
“It’s been hard but I had to find new ways to go about doing day to day tasks, that I could do without hesitation before the accident..”
The trauma caused by the crash has also left Warren with severe depression.
Through his rehabilitation process, Warren re-discovered his love for motorsports after being introduced to KartForce, a charity that helps injured troops enjoy motorsport through endurance kart racing. He was then asked to step up to join Team BRIT, a competitive racing team solely for injured troops.
Warren is now a regular driver for the team, which competes in endurance races across the UK and Europe, and will be driving for them this year in the FunCup Championship..
Warren explains that because of his brain injury, it’s hard to concentrate for long periods of time, but racing provides a focus and an escape from this. This claim has been supported by a recent clinical study into the effects of motorsport on injured troops - teambrit.co.uk/phdstudy/
Warren says, “Being a part of Team BRIT has given me my focus back and it’s helping me battle with my depression. My love for the team, the people and the racing has helped me recover physically and psychologically.
“Although I have a brain injury, racing with Team BRIT and being a part of motorsport has made me feel no different to anyone else on the race track.
“We are now concentrating on doing well in this year’s race season. Our main aim is to head to Le Mans to compete at the famous 24-hour race and be the first all disabled team to do so”.
“Being a competitive team, we depend on sponsorship from our corporate partners, so along with the other drivers, we work hard for our seat in the team and we really enjoy learning about the business side of motorsport and how to create effective partnerships.
He added “I Thought I’d never get back into racing after the incident and all of the effects that it had on my life, but now I realise you shouldn’t accept any limitations that you put on yourself, if you have the hunger to do something you love, don’t let your disability get in your way – just do it.”
Warren is now looking forward to the beginning of the 2017 race season. He will be competing at Silverstone on the 8th April with Team BRIT in the Funcup UK Championship. Follow his progress here – www.warrenracing.co.uk.
You can also follow Warren’s journey by…
Following twitter.com/RacingWarren on Twitter
Liking Warren’s Facebook page - www.facebook.com/RacingWarren/?fref=ts
Follow his Instagram - www.instagram.com/racingwarren/
Add him on Snapchat - RacingWarren
Further information on Team BRIT can be found at www.teambrit.co.uk or by following their social media channels.