Currently reading: Nic Hamilton - Lewis Hamilton's younger brother in the BTCC
Don’t think that Nic Hamilton has it easy in motorsport because his brother is F1 world champ. As he tells us, he’s had to battle against the odds to reach the BTCC grid

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.”

After learning fast in Renault Clios and Seats, Hamilton set his sights on the highest level he could achieve.

“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.”

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He is learning well and came 16th of 28 starters in the third race at Snetterton. There are some misconceptions about his pace – and the career boost that he might be getting from elsewhere.

He says: “This year has nothing to do with my family backing. It just isn’t true that I have all these millions of pounds behind me. This is about me going out there and finding the money to take part. I can show people my story and inspire people at the same time.

“I was never wrapped up in cotton wool. I was always treated like an able-bodied individual. That is what has made me so stubborn and determined to fight for what I want.

"At the moment, it is hard just to step in to the BTCC and be quick straight away because there is so much to learn. I think it is just my commitment and determination and how I go about things that are going to make me finish the season in a positive manner. Hopefully for next year, if I can work hard and get the budget for myself, then I would like to be on the grid for the whole season.”

Special modifications for Nic's Audi S3

Nic Hamilton’s Audi has been modified to enable him to drive it effectively. AmD Tuning team chief Shaun Hollamby explains: “The car runs a brake and throttle pedal only. The clutch is on paddles either side of the steering wheel.

“The pedals have been moved further apart and are of a wider than normal construction to accommodate the angle of Nic’s ankles. Apart from that the car is standard.

“Before we started, I expected us to have to do a lot of work with brake master cylinders and throttle maps to help Nic get the best from the car. This has not proved to be the case.

“Nic has worked hard on his leg strength since his Clio days and now is able to apply the same level of brake pressure that an able-bodied driver can apply. His throttle inputs are smooth and progressive and consistent with other drivers that we have run.” 

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