After a five-year break from competition, 70-year-old disabled driver David Butler returned to the racing track to claim a top-four place in his category at the Castle Combe Circuit.
Hemel Hempstead man David found an unexploded bomb when he was 11 years old and lost both legs and his left hand – but has since gone on to compete in more than 600 events.
In each of his previous races, David competed in left hand drive cars, so that he could change gear with his right hand and used a vacuum operated clutch.
However, the 130bhp Smart 4Two Brabus Exclusive car that he used at Castle Combe has a manual gearbox, electronically run with the option of paddle shift use – and therefore it was the first time that David had raced a conventional right hand drive car.
In practice, first time out, David was fourth on the Smart grid with only one spin at the tight chicane.
In the main race, David made a disappointing start and also endured a 75 mph four-rotational spin on lap 7, trying to grab third place at Camp Corner just before the finish line.
He went off onto the in-field, but got straight into gear and back on track to finish fourth in class.
“It was quite hairy at 110mph into Quarry Corner in a Smart car but great fun,” said David.
James Palmer and Paul Bates, founders of Smarts4you Racing organisation, obtained the car for David’s use and are preparing it for racing in their 4Two Cup series.
As an aid to steering, David has a ball bolted onto the steering wheel and a deep cup fitted into his artificial arm. He uses his artificial left leg for both an accelerator pedal on the left and central brake pedal.
David has been working for some time with Dave Player, who runs the Kartforce organisation, to assist amputee soldiers – many from the Afghanistan conflict – to transition from karting to circuit racing.
For the past 12 years David has also been a member of the MSA Medical Advisory Panel, representing all disabled drivers who wish to participate in any form of motorsport.