Revolutionary adaptive racing controls to create equal opportunities for disabled drivers
Team BRIT, an all-disabled racing team, is revolutionising the motorsport industry through innovative adaptive technology, creating opportunities for disabled drivers that have never previously existed.
Now, through inclusive technology, Team BRIT is making it possible for disabled people to race with able-bodied people as equal competitors in the same league and the same race, with nobody being defined by their status as being disabled or not.
The team aims to be the first British all-disabled team to compete in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race and through its Racing Academy, it supports people with physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport.
To date, adaptive technology in motorsport has not enabled a disabled racing driver to be competitive. Until Team BRIT’s development, disabled drivers would have to use hand controls designed for driving automatic cars on public roads. These prevent a disabled racing driver from being able to perform all the functions as quickly or safely as an able-bodied racing driver.
The challenge facing Team BRIT was to develop something that brought them to a level starting point with able-bodied drivers and did not provide an unfair technical advantage.
To see the adaptive hand controls in action, watch the video below:
With his Race Engineer Al Locke, Dave Player designed a system he believed could work, by developing the controls he had used in karts as part of his military charity, KartForce, making them suitable for race cars.
With support from Marko Mlakar of MME Motorsport based in Slovenia, they developed the “world’s most advanced” hand controls that will work on any race car.
The high-tech system involves an electronic throttle, electronic clutch and electronic gear changing, which is common in motorsport, but the new system also introduces an advanced system to brake electronically.
The team has raced in a number of championships since its formation in 2015. This year, it will compete in the Britcar Championship, with drivers such as Aaron Morgan, who is paraplegic after a motocross accident, using the hand controls to race in the team’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4.
Team Founder Dave Player explained: “Historically, disabled drivers have had no chance at being truly competitive on the track when using ‘push/pull’ technology. When negotiating a chicane, for example, a driver needs to apply the brakes, come off the throttle, steer, gear down – all very quickly – then do the opposite very quickly again.
“An able-bodied racing driver does this very efficiently and safely using two hands and two feet. A disabled driver using traditional hand controls always has one hand off the steering to operate the throttle and brake lever, leaving the other hand to steer and perform the other functions. This is not safe and is not efficient and even if the disabled driver is the best in the world, they will never be able to perform the same functions in the same amount of time, so will always lose time.
“Our hand controls allow disabled drivers – whether racing or driving on public roads – to perform all the same functions in full safety, whilst having both hands firmly gripped to the steering wheel at all times. This is crucial – everything our team stands for is based on normalizing disability, and we can only be fully competitive, racing on equal terms, with the technology that makes this a reality.”
Looking forward, Dave hopes to work with a major motor manufacturer to take this technology and provide a whole new world of competitive opportunity to disabled drivers.
The team receives enquiries about the controls from race teams all over the world and information on the technology is shared so that the innovation can be used globally.
Disabled Sim racers are using the hand controls to enhance their competitive racing online and the team is developing a system for drivers with poor hand function.
For more information on Team BRIT, visit the website: www.teambrit.co.uk