War veterans help launch disabled motorsport academy
Two military veterans living with life-long injuries joined one of the country's most famous racing drivers to launch a new motorsport academy.
Warren McKinlay, from Braintree, and Ash Hall, from Colchester, are part of Team BRIT – which has set its sights on becoming the first ever all-disabled team to take part in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Mr McKinlay is a former Royal and Electrical Mechanical Engineer who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a motorcycle accident and was diagnosed with so-called “Corpse Syndrome”, causing him to believe he was dead.
Mr Hall is a former Royal Engineer who lost both legs above the knees when hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan aged 19.
And recently they were joined by British Touring Car driver Nicolas Hamilton, who has cerebral palsy, to launch the new Team BRIT Academy – which aims to give even more disabled people the chance to get into motorsport.
Mr Hall said: “Being part of Team BRIT has been such an incredible journey and I hope that through the academy we can welcome new people into motorsport that might never have considered it before.
“We’re constantly breaking barriers and overcoming challenges.
“It’s not a question of if we make Le Mans, it’s a question of when, and it will be great to welcome some new drivers along the way.”
Mr McKinlay added: “I feel extremely privileged and proud to be involved with the UK’s first disabled racing academy.
“We’re giving people the opportunity to realise dreams of getting out on a race circuit – something they may never have thought was possible.
“Many of us are ex-forces, but through the academy and Team BRIT, we’re opening our doors to any disabled people and I hope that others will now feel encouraged and supported in trying something completely new.”
Both drivers are currently competing in the BMW 116 Trophy and the Britcar Championship.
Mr Hall will be driving the BMW this year, with Mr McKinlay competing in the team’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4.
Mr Hamilton, brother of five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, added: “I’m really pleased to be able to support the launch of Team BRIT’s Race Academy.”
More information on Team BRIT and the academy, based in Surrey, is available at www.teambrit.co.uk