Dad-of-two hopes to be on first all-disabled team to take on Le Mans
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 October 2017
A disabled sportsman from Nailsea has joined a motor racing team which is hoping to become the first-ever all-disabled team to race in Le Mans.
James Russell, aged 35, has joined Team BRIT – British Racing Injured Troops.
Historically, the team has only included ex or serving military troops who have been injured, but disabled civilian drivers have now been invited to join the group.
James, who has two children with his wife Charlotte, was born with a congenital defect to his right lower leg – leaving him without a fibula bone and an angulated tibia.
This condition gave James a shorter lower leg and incomplete ankle. He had an operation to straighten the limb when he was one and he now wears a prosthetic leg.
James also has a finger missing from his right hand and an abnormal bowel due to the congenital defect.
His condition has not hindered his love of sport and James is a keen amateur rugby player, swimmer and rower.
He is now adding driving to his list of skills and is delighted to have made the team.
He said: “Having been born with a disability, I really don’t let it affect me as I have never known anything different.
“There are times when I have to make adjustments, such as taking my leg off to go for a swim and only being able to drive automatic cars, but apart from that, it’s just a matter of, shoving my leg on and getting on with it.
“I’ve played full contact able-bodied rugby for the past 23 years, for a team that are in good league, so not much stops me.
“I’m all about stopping other people and seeing their reaction when they realise I only have one leg.
“Being a driver with Team BRIT will let me compete against able-bodied competitors in a similar way which is fantastic. I can’t wait to get out on the track.”
James took part in Team BRIT’s rookie day on August 21 where he passed an assessment. He is now working towards his Association of Racing Drivers School licence (ARDS) which will enable him to race competitively.
The team has developed the world’s most advanced hand-control technology to allow its drivers to compete on equal terms with able-bodied competitors.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race starts on June 16 next year.