Nathalie McGloin is a passionate Lamborghini lover and owner. But what makes her so special?
At the age of 16, a car accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. In 2015 she started driving in races in adapted sports cars. The extremely enthusiastic and determined FAB member welcomed us into her home in Northamptonshire, UK, to talk about her mission to make motorsport accessible to other disabled drivers, with her Huracán Performante and an Urus along for the drive…
What’s your role as the President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission?
We work to establish a process for homologated cars that have been adapted for disabilities. In general we want to make sure that everyone gets the message: motorsport is accessible for disabled people! Whether they want to work as volunteers and officials, as drivers, or take part as spectators: we’re trying to make sure that there are routes into motorsports for disabled people in all areas. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we’re making progress.
Do you race against non-disabled drivers?
Yes, of course, I race predominantly against non-disabled men. Women are just starting: we have a race at the end of the year that’s all women. It’s just one kind of celebratory race that I do as part of a women’s club that I’m involved with. But all of my competitive races are with able-bodied men. I don’t think I’ve ever raced against a female.
How are you perceived by your competitors?
I tend to think that my gender is completely disguised by my disability, because if people see a female driver, you know they’re interested in her gender for reasons that are not really relevant, but people are interested in my disability because it dictates the way I control the car. So they’re interested in the hand controls and how I drive the car considering I can’t move my legs. So I think my gender just gets pushed to the side because the disability is a tangible concept in racing. You know, man or woman in a race car, it doesn’t matter. But having a disability does mean that your control setup in the car is different. People want to know the technicalities and the mechanics of it. So they treat me like any other driver when I am out on the race circuit. And this is exactly how I want it to be. But in the paddock it’s different. People are interested and I’m happy to talk to them about the controls and other things.
Since when have you been interested in cars?
I became interested in cars when I was at university and I bought a sports car. The only reason I bought the sports car was that someone told me that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. When I was driving no one could see my wheelchair and it was the same kind of concept of being on the road with everyone else, it was just another car on the road, not the disabled person in the wheelchair. So I think it was the anonymous nature of driving and the speed as well that thrilled me. The first time I got in a powerful car and my head kind of hit the back of the seat when I accelerated, I just I fell in love with that, I don’t know why. The more I had, the more I craved for it. I just got into buying more and more powerful cars. And when I found out about track days. It was perfect for me, an outlet to really experience this feeling.
How do people react when they see you in your Huracán Performante?
First of all, people don’t see many Lamborghini cars, so you get, “Wow that’s a Lamborghini!” And then they go, “Hmm, that’s a woman driving it!” And then I pull up to my parking space and I get my wheelchair out, and they go, “She’s a wheelchair user! What the hell is going on?” People don’t put Lamborghini, woman, disabled woman all in the same equation. But I love that reaction when I get out in a disabled parking space.
Now there’s an Urus parked outside your house…
I love the styling of the Urus! Lamborghini said: we are going to make our SUV look like a Lamborghini, we’re going to make it angular. You clearly see who has made the car when you see it. The shape is staggering and I cannot wait to drive it!