Modifications to controls for motor racing
With my historic 1963 MGB I bought it left hand drive to be able to change gear with my right hand.
I steered with my left arm (only off at the wrist) with an artificial hand that had a cup screwed into the palm which connected with a ball bolted to the steering wheel.
The greatest problem encountered on all my manual gearbox cars was the operation of the clutch, I tried hydraulic, electric and finally settled for a vacuum system which was not by any means perfect but did give the most control, particularly getting off the start line.
The clutch was operated by a T piece on the top of the gear lever.
The MGB also had an overdrive and the switch for that was also on the gear lever so driving it was a bit like playing a piano with one hand at 100 mph! Or as busy as a one arm paper hanger!
Notice on the steering wheel a ball is bolted to an inner spoke of the wheel and I wear an artificial hand that has, screwed into the palm, a deep cup that fits over the ball very securely but held on by pressure from your arm only.
The cup is not fixed on to the ball for obvious safety reasons. It has however never once jumped come off of the ball - despite flying over the chicane kerbs at Donington and Thruxton or while competing in Autocross events!
With a knee on my left side I am able to operate a floor mounted accelerator and brake pedal but I needed the accelerator pedal to be on the left.
Cowal Mobility manufacture these systems and fitted it to all my cars both on the road and the track.
The advantage is that it is a twin pedal system so that when a mechanic or a member of my family wants to drive my cars you can pull down a right hand pedal and the left one folds out of the way.
Even in the most severe conditions on bumpy Autocross courses or flying straight across the chicane kerbs at Thruxton this system handles it.
Illustrated on a Mercedes saloon - photograph left
With the historic Porsche 911 Francis Tuthill and his son Richard, THE experts for preparing Porsche rally cars, did a brilliant job for me.
This left hand drive car came from Scandinavia and I chose it because it had a semi automatic gearbox.
It could be used in fully automatic mode or when on the rally stages select manually.
A twin accelerator pedal scheme was added and both pedals had one side of the pedal raised so that in rough conditions my foot could not slip off the pedal. A similar treatment was added to the brake pedal and I felt very comfortable driving the car over long periods.
A similar treatment was added to the brake pedal and I felt very comfortable driving the car over long periods.
I was fortunate to have Martin Davey of Smart Motorsport building, maintaining and running the car within his team while taking part in Legend racing.
In retrospect this was not the most suitable car for me as you needed to be a midget with double joint limbs to enter and exit but Martin modified the door opening, the roll cage, the seat positioning and pedal positions - patience of a saint!
Why choose this class of sport? Getting off the line with a hand operated vacuum clutch always sent me back down the grid and Legends used a rolling start.
Legends also have motorbike engines and sequencial gearboxes and a steering wheel mounted push-button gear selection control was available on the market. Just as I really thought I was getting the hang of throwing one of these little cars around I entered Graham Hill bend at Brands Hatch - the seventh car to join an expensive scrap heap - three cars were written off including my own.
Hello overdraft - goodbye racing career. I did go out with a bang. Hopefully the BBC video will be loaded later which proves it wasn`t my fault.
But it wasn't actually the end!Return to Adaptability page