Nathalie McGloin is an inspirational woman who has become the UK’s first - and only - female race car driver with a spinal cord injury. Nathalie was paralyzed from the chest down after a serious car accident when she was only 16. Despite being told she would never walk again, Nathalie became determined to become the strongest possible version of herself, and since then has let nothing limit her. Three years after the incident and two years after being discharged from the hospital, Nathalie gained a place at the University of Nottingham where she studied English and was introduced to wheelchair rugby. Nathalie saw people with similar injuries being active in ways she didn't realize were even possible. This inspired her and she took on the sport.
Nathalie established herself quickly in the sport, moving to London to play at a higher level and improve her skills. A teammate then introduced Nathalie to track driving and instantly she was hooked. Nathalie was told she shouldn’t drive track; however, she used this as even more of a motivating factor and began to pursue track-driving fully. After she drove Porsche 911’s on track for 6 years, Nathalie then decided it was time to gain a race license. It was not an easy task to prove she could exit the car within 7 seconds with no aid in the case of an emergency such as a serious crash or fire. At times Nathalie thought this may be impossible,but she accomplished it the first time, and on the second attempt with a roll cage.
After applying for her license in 2013, she spent a year and a half competing in hill-climbs and sprints, finishing first in her class in her first ever competitive sprint race. In 2015, Nathalie's license was approved and she became a fully qualified race driver and the first woman in the UK with a spinal cord injury to pass the ARDS exam. Since then, Nathalie has competed in 35 races and is in the Porsche Club Championship. In her first race, she achieved 12th out of 19 starters, finishing above experienced drivers. Her racing has only improved and Nathalie is aiming for future podium finishes with the backing of her team, her coach, and sponsors such as STANLEY®.
"When I'm racing I leave my wheelchair in the pits. When I'm lining up on that grid with my helmet on, no one knows I'm female or have a spinal injury. I'm just another driver – and that's the way it should be."
In addition to her racing, Nathalie and her rally driving partner, Andrew Bayliss, have launched a charity called Spinal Track, which offers people who drive with hand controls the opportunity to drive on track. Using the hand-controlled Spinal Track Golf GTI, which has tuned engine, half roll cage, full race suspension, bucket seats, and harnesses, this is an incredibly capable car which allows drivers to gain a full track-driving experience. The aim of this is to feel the same sense of empowerment Nathalie herself gains from track-driving and racing and use this empowerment to infuse more confidence into other aspects of their lives. Nathalie is also a representative of Wings for Life, a spinal injury charity that funds research for a cure and provides therapy that will benefit people with paralysis. With Wings for Life, she speaks to newly injured patients hoping to show them that life after sustaining a spinal cord injury “doesn’t have to be worse; it just has to be different”.
By telling her story and emphasizing the importance of determination, never settling for second best, living life to the fullest regardless of hersituation, positivity and passion, Nathalie truly is an inspiration. She encourages women to be part of motorsports and proves with every success, despite the many challenges and hardships that are faced with life-changing injuries, ultimately anything can be possible. Her journey is a constant reminder to anybody with a spinal cord injury that they should never give up as their dreams can be reached.