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Lee Shepherd

 Kart racer
Below please find an article about this remarkable driver courtesy of Karting Magazine.

Lee is confined to a wheelchair.  He has, by his own admission, to rely on friends and fellow drivers to get his kart from the pits to the dummy grid where he brings his wheelchair alongside then uses a custom wooden platform to slide himself across into the seat.

With a little help, his feet are strapped into the vacant throttle and clutch wells as modifications to Lee`s kart mean that he can dice with the rest.   And don`t forget, this is a 250cc gearbox class so there`s the gear changes to operate as well as hand controlled throttle and brake!

LEE SHEPHERD - `D` is for Determined

Racing`s about the will to win.  The will to rise against all odds.  It`s the passion that fuels power.    
I was reminded of that when I met Lee Shepherd at Kimbolton`s April Club meeting.

There is nothing immediately different about Lee`s kart to the average eye.  It is a meaty 250cc gearboxed F1 chassis with a Honda engine capable of eating track at every meal.  At a glance, there might be the occasional query about the orange `D` alongside the novice black plate, but most presume it to be a team colour or logo.  
Closer inspection, however, will certainly bring queries on the absence of pedals for both the throttle and brake. 
  
Is the driver mad? 
Not mad but certainly one of the most determined I have met for many years.  While that `D` officially confirms Lee as a karter with a disability, believe me this is one driver who`s up for paving a way in karting.
Lee is confined to a wheelchair.  He has, by his own admission, to rely on friends and fellow drivers to get his kart from the pits to
the dummy grid where he brings his wheelchair alongside then uses a custom wooden platform to slide himself across into the seat.  With a little help, his feet are strapped into the vacant throttle and clutch wells as modifications to Lee`s kart mean that he can dice with the rest.  
Hand controls aren`t new in gearbox karting, fellow 250 National competitor Richard Walker relies on a hand-controlled brake but it is the first time I have come across a driver relying on hand controls for the throttle as well. 
 
And don`t forget, this is a gearbox class so there`s the gear changes to operate as well!
 
So how does it work? 
Lee explained:  `There are two clutch (hand) levers one above the other on the right hand side. 
 
The top one is the brake and the bottom is the accelerator and they are positioned so that I can use them both together`. 
   
 What prompted you to even think about giving karting a go?    
`I did motocross for about 8 to 10 years and also rode a road bike. 
 
 Then I had my accident in 1996.  I`d stayed friends with Don Kennedy (Kennedy Motors), Stephen Clarke and Mally Witts who I did motocross with and came down to a kart meeting to watch a few times.  Then I borrowed a 250 kart and gave it to Don who adapted it for me.  I tried it and it worked OK so decided it would be feasible for me to race so purchased an F1 kart and an engine.  Don, myself and Steve spent many a night putting it together`.
 
Were there any problems getting a licence to race?
`I had to go for a medical then have a meeting with the RAC at Colnbrook. I`d hoped to get my licence in January but had to wait for a while for the meeting and then there were a few reservations.  They decided to give me a licence with the provision that I didn`t do long circuits for the first year so that they could see how I got on.  Oh yes, and I did a standard ARKS test. 

Since getting my licence I`ve done Shenington and Rissington and this is my third meeting.  It`s great to be off grid 12 for the Final, my highest grid position (for a Final) so far. Hopefully when my novice plate is off I`d like to do a few rounds of the Super 4`

That`s terrific and inspiring for others.  Anything you`d like to add, Lee?
`I really am grateful to Don and to everyone who`s helped me.  I have to rely on having someone with me all the time to help with the kart and that`s hard as it`s a commitment and on top of that they have to do all the lifting and hard work.  If there`s anyone out there who wants to volunteer, get in touch.  And some sponsorship would be extremely welcome!`

He deserves both. 
To repeat myself, racing`s about the will to win.  Lee Shepherd has that will. 

Report: Allison Lock.
Karting Magazine - June 2000