This story is part of 30 Under 30.
Nic Hamilton is a racing driver by profession and is currently competing in the British Touring Car Championship. He was born with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and has caused a stir in the racing world as one of the few disabled racers on the track. He is now setting up XeedX, a website he hopes will inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.
As part of our 30 Under 30 campaign, Nic talks about getting into racing, setting up XeedX and how he has exceeded expectations throughout his life.
I always wanted to do racing. My brother Lewis had started to race when he was eight years old and we were following him and supporting him throughout his career. I was at every race, every weekend and it’s something that I always wanted to do but didn’t think it was possible due to my condition.
I had a little go in a car park when I was seven. It didn’t go too well. I ended up crashing into a kerb and down a ditch! My legs weren’t strong enough to operate the pedals. It was pretty much a no go for me at that point. It wasn’t looking good for me as that’s normally the time when you’d start your career in motorsport. It wasn’t until I was around 17 or 18 that we thought it might be possible.
Cerebral palsy isn’t really built for doing all the strength you need to drive a car. I don’t think people realise how physical it is and how fit you have to be. I’ve had to really build up my strength, do my stretches and have a lot of physio.
I’ve had to adapt the car but I try and keep it as standard as possible. I still have pedals but I do have a hand clutch on the steering wheel so I have two pedals instead of three. The pedals are a little wider than standard so I have a bigger area to put my feet when I’m accelerating or braking.
To start with, it was very difficult. The first task was to obtain my race licence. Normally, for non-disabled people, it would take around two weeks. You just need to prove that you can drive a car at high speeds.
I passed the test first time, no problems. However, the governing body for motor sport had a lot of questions to ask in terms of my condition. It was quite difficult because they were really coming down hard on me and wanting every single little detail. It ended up taking me four months to get it and then every time I renewed it, it was always an issue.
However, since they’ve seen that I’m beating non-disabled people and that I’m making quite a name for myself, it hasn’t been an issue. Originally it was tough, but now it feels like I’m treated as an equal. I’m just trying to do the best job I can, be the best I can be and see where my career takes me.
Setting up XeedX
I basically thought XeedX up in my bedroom. I wanted to see if there was a way to use what I’m about and use the opportunities I’ve been given to give something back to other people.
I wanted to try and start a movement of people exceeding opportunities in their own way and wanted to put everyone on the same level. As much as everyone has a role model to look up to, people need to realise that they are most likely a role model to someone else also. I want to start moving out of the limelight and focus on people who deserve it more. It will be a way to motivate and inspire people.
My whole thing is being told I’d never walk to then going on to racing a race car. I managed to exceed all expectations of what everyone had of me and what I had of myself.
Throughout life, you’re always exceeding expectations. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, it could just be getting up and running to the shop or doing something you’d never normally do or something that you didn’t think was possible. I want people to start showing us what they’re doing.
The whole point of XeedX is to help people be proud of who they are and to make them realise that they are as important to society and the world as anybody else. If you put your mind to it, you can really push your limits and exceed expectations in any way that you can.
Nic is sharing his story as part of our 30 Under 30 campaign. This is where we are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Read other stories from 30 Under 30.
Visit the XeedX website to find out more and how you can get involved.