Ben Warren, who lives near Bicester, was born with Lumbosacral Agenesis, a rare condition involving the absence of parts of his spine. He is fully paralysed from the waist down and has no sacrum, meaning he is short in stature and has urological issues.
Being a keen and competitive online ‘sim racer’ for the past 11 years, Ben was approached by eTeam BRIT, the online racing arm of Team BRIT - a competitive racing team of disabled drivers. Team BRIT aims to be the first all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 hour, and through its Racing Academy, it supports drivers with a range of physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport.
eTeam BRIT was launched last year to provide competitive opportunities for disabled online racers.
Ben began online racing in 2009, first using a computer keyboard, but soon progressed to competitive racing using a full racing rig with wheel, from his bedroom.
Team BRIT principal and founder Dave Player met Ben in person at Silverstone last year, and approached him about exploring the possibility of supporting him in driving a car on track. Within just two months, Ben was at the Team BRIT base in Dunsfold in Surrey, having a specially-made seat insert created to allow him to use the team’s top of the range racing simulator, fitted with its world-leading hand controls.
The seat can be transferred to a car, giving Ben the opportunity to drive on a race circuit for the first time – something he has never been able to do as his shape prevents him being able to sit in any standard car seats.
On Saturday 25th January, Ben, who has also starred in BBC children’s series ‘Desperados’, and now supports a local wheelchair basketball team, will join a Team BRIT Racing Academy track session at Silverstone where he will drive the team’s VW Academy Polo on the iconic track.
Ben confirms, “I’m still slightly in disbelief over the opportunity that has been created for me. I’ve been a keen sportsman for years, playing wheelchair basketball since I was 14 and playing with the Great Britain Under 22s training squad, and I’ve always been a fan of many sports including motorsport.
“I’ve watched Formula 1 for years, my Dad has always been a fan, but I’ve never thought that motor racing, outside of the online world, would be something I could take part in.
“I was really surprised how well the seat fitting went and I now believe that Dave could be right and I really will be able to get out on track at Silverstone – it’ll be the chance of a lifetime.”