For years Britain has led the way in terms of incorporating disability within the mainstream of daily life. Disability laws, for example, were enacted in the UK Parliament relating to discrimination against people with disabilities and often, these set the global standards for employment, accessibility and equality. Similarly, Britain is leading the way in relation to disability and motorsport.
World leaders in automotive excellence such as McLaren and Aston Martin have earned their status as iconic British heritage brands with innovative quality and state-of-the-art technological expertise at their core.
What happens when you bring these two areas of Motorsport and Disability, together?
The team is a motor racing team consisting of drivers who are disabled. It has set out a hugely ambitious target of being the first ever all-disabled team to compete in the world-famous Le Mans 24 hour endurance race, a feat they wish to achieve by 2020.
Following a high-profile launch in February this year, supported by title sponsor Brit Insurance, the team has gone from strength to strength, running two cars in the UK’s Fun Cup championship – the first rung on their motorsport ladder.
Next year will see them move up to GT4 racing, whilst continuing to offer new rookies, entry level racing in the Fun Cup – essentially, creating an academy model of motorsport.
The team’s drivers each have varying disabilities that affect their physical mobility in different ways which creates an array of high complex problem solving technical issues that need to be addressed, by the team of designers.
The majority are ex or serving military troops that have sustained injuries during their time in military service. Recently, the doors were opened to civilian drivers in an effort to widen opportunities here, too.
Technology has been the key to making this a viable project. The team has developed the world’s most advanced hand-control system to allow its drivers to seriously compete on, what can be considered, a level playing field against able-bodied drivers.
Previously, disabled drivers would have used mechanical push-pull or radial hand controls. Team BRIT’s system uses ‘drive by wire’ technology for the brake, throttle and clutch. To control and monitor these pneumatic and hydraulic systems there's a vast array of electronics, and the team have been working with LEMO to make this happen.
Team BRIT Chief Technician Al Locke said “Reliability is key. The races in which we compete are typically anything from 4 to 25 hours in length, and it's a real test of every part of the car. In such a harsh environment the clear leader for us is the LEMO M-Series connector. We use B, M and T Series connectors extensively throughout all the cars. Their ease of installation, ingress protection and mechanical strength is second to none.”
The team looks to serve as a pioneer for wider change in the automotive industry when it comes to disability. “With Alexandre Pesci's racing pedigree through his LMP program it was only natural that we'd want to work with LEMO.” said Team Founder Dave Player, who serves as the Disability Advisor for the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile - motorsport’s international governing body. He is an influential member of their recently established task force to improve access to motorsport for disabled people and is looking to spread the use of this technology, globally.”