In 2010 KartForce was set up to introduce team endurance racing to injured troops.
At first, the idea was to offer a new and exciting leisure activity to the many young injured soldiers coming back with missing legs and other serious physical injuries.
Hand controls were designed and very rapidly it became obvious that some of these lads had racing skills.
Most of all, they had enormous amounts of drive and determination, combined with the ability to follow instructions to the letter.
This made coaching easy. They were given instructions, they followed them and they went faster – and then they’d come back gagging for the next set of instructions.
The impact racing had on these lads with severe physical injuries was amazing.
Racing has given them something they thought they had lost. After being injured all they thought about was all the things they could no longer do.
Showed them that they could compete on a totally level playing field, regardless of injury.
It took almost 7 months for one lad to come and try karting. He was so down and in such a dark place, that he’d virtually shut the outside world out.
When he got to the track, it took him 45 mins to summon up the strength to get out the car and into the track.
After that first session, he attended every race and has gone on to achieve beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
He now has the self-confidence to make talk in front of large groups, TV and other events.
There are many other examples of how motorsport has had such a positive and long lasting impact on drivers with severe physical injuries.
Racing has re-awoken their driver and determination.
Pushing themselves to discover new limits and enjoying the massive rushes of adrenalin has allowed them to focus on this new part of their lives.
To get the best out of themselves and the sport, they need to be fit and healthy.
But they also need to be reliable and consistent team players, which is another character-building side-effect of team endurance racing.
When you have to get out of bed and it’s still dark, you’re feeling down and your body is sore, it’s too easy to roll over and claim the dog ate your homework.
When you have team members doing the same thing, that are going through the same processes – physically and mentally – who have heard and maybe used every excuse imaginable, you have the extra boot up the arse to get out of bed and get moving.
The sense of accomplishment and the pride of having completed a 24hr race and competed against far more experienced racers is incalculable.
An ex-Army boxing champion said that the process of looking forward to, taking part in and completing the British 24hr karting gave him a great sense of achievement than any of his boxing accomplishments.
Karting has been a truly amazing spring board for these lads.
Some have gone on to racing in cars… some have gone on to set up their own businesses…
But all of them came away having benefited enormously.
Karting has proven what it can do to injured troops so it would be great to see projects like KartForce being replicated all over the country to encourage other disabled people to take part in a sport that will help them grow as individuals.
What other sport can do this?
Article and photos supplied by KartForce - www.KartForce.org