It is unusual for a racing driver to have to visit an osteopath before they get into the car, but that is a regular feature of Nic Hamilton’s British Touring Car Championship preparations.
Hamilton, the younger brother of Formula 1 world champion Lewis, joined the BTCC this year for a part-season campaign in an Audi S3 saloon run by AmD Tuning. He is not registered to score points as he takes his first steps in the series, but he is determined to return for a full attack on the championship next year.
Hamilton, 23, has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle control and movement. He has chosen to race under the slogan ‘Driven to inspire’, and he hopes his journey will give hope to others suffering from the condition. And his journey has been a tough one.
“Before a race weekend, I will go to the osteopath on the Thursday night, making sure that my neck is straight, my pelvis is in the right place and my ribs are okay,” Hamilton says. “By the time I have finished racing on Sunday, maybe two or three ribs will be out of place and my neck will not be feeling great. That means I will be going back to the osteopath on Monday and get it all put back right.”
Hamilton has very limited racing experience. He has competed in the Renault Clio Cup and also a Seat in Europe. After a successful background in online racing simulation games, Hamilton knew he wanted to race. But, given his condition, there were lots of barriers to overcome.
“I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to drive a road car, let alone a race car,” he says. “The whole idea of becoming a racing driver diminished. It wasn’t until I pestered my dad to get me in a car after me being quite successful in online simulation gaming that things started moving.”
A visit to PalmerSport in Bedford ensued. “The idea was for me to potter around and get it out of my system,” he says. “But on the first day I started matching the instructors and that was a shock to me and everyone else. It went from there and we decided that maybe we could start racing.”
“Being a Hamilton and the way I am and how determined I am, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of guy,” says Hamilton. “I don’t want to be racing in a championship that no one knows about and I want to start learning from the best. That is why we chose to start with the Clios. That is one of the toughest one-make series in the UK and that is where we ended up in 2011 and 2012. It was so tough not having any experience and then trying to learn from the best. Then we targeted the BTCC.”