Nicholas Hamilton has always envied his older half-brother Lewis, a Formula One racer. Nick, suffering from severely disabled legs as a result of cerebral palsy, has always dreamed of driving. But after a first attempt nearly ended in disaster, Nick’s dream began to fade.
“I’d been badgering my parents to let me have a go in a kart for ages,” he said, “and in the end they let me in a Stevenage car park when I was seven. But I discovered I didn’t have the strength to brake and ended up crashing into a curb and flying into a ditch full of water six feet below. After that I was scared and my parents wouldn’t let me near a car.”
However, with hard work and determination, Nick has become a racer in his own right. Now 21 years old, Hamilton drove a car for the first time three years ago. He has competed for two years in the Renalut Clio Cup, and recently switched to the European Touring Car Cup.
“I became good at simulation and won the British championship,” he explained. “This was partly thanks to Lewis, who I used to compete against every night and often beat.
“He then suggested I should give driving a go, and after a stint in an adapted BMW M3 at Jonathan Palmer’s Bedford track in 2010, I discovered I was as fast as the instructors within five laps. Jonathan, a former F1 driver, my dad Anthony- who always tells you how it is!- and myself were amazed. That’s when we decided to enter the Clio Cup and go from there.”
He added, “In 2011 I didn’t want people to highlight my disability. I didn’t want it to be seen as a problem, because I didn’t see it that way. But in the past year, I’ve come to embrace it and realize my disability is a part of me. This is in part because of the amazing response I’ve had from fellow CP sufferers, and others with disability, on social media, on my website and especially at race days. Now I want people to know of my struggles, the obstacles I’ve cleared and my achievements. I hope it can encourage others to do the same.”