Nathalie McGloin has been breaking barriers for years, but this week, she was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first-ever quadriplegic woman to race cars. As a public speaker, a near-Paralympic rugby player, president of the FIA’s Disability and Accessibility Commission, and the only woman with a disability to hold a race and rally license in the United Kingdom, McGloin didn’t need any official title to show that she’s a certified badass — but a little extra recognition never hurt anyone.
When she was 16 years old, McGloin suffered a spinal injury in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the chest down. She spent 11 months in the hospital recovering before heading to university, where she found confidence in the independence she had while pursuing a degree and playing rugby. Another injury sidelined her from competition, but, as she says, “One day, one of my rugby teammates told me that his sportscar was faster than mine.”
All it took was a track day to convince McGloin that she had found her latest passion.
In 2015, McGloin secured her racing license; she says she received it in the mail on Thursday and went racing that Sunday. The Porsche Cayman S that she currently drives is modified with radial hand controls. She uses one hand to steer while the other uses those hand controls to accelerate (by pushing down) or brake (by pushing forward).
McGloin has become a strong advocate for accessibility rights, which she has demonstrated time and again through both her career and things like her YouTube channel or Instagram, where she highlights a blend of her racing successes with tips on how she’s able to do things like transfer herself from a bathtub to a wheelchair or modify a workout for her body.
The title of World Record holder is yet another notch in McGloin’s impressive career belt.