Competitors‎ > ‎Racing & Rallying‎ > ‎

David Butler

Once you get the bug! 
My 70th birthday present to myself, another session of motorsport.

The race was organised by the Classic Sports Car Club and the Smart cars were in the Modern Classics Series with our own race within a race. In practice, first time out, I was fourth on the Smart grid with only one spin at the tight chicane! I didn’t make the best of starts when the lights went out (must now practice starts!) After a lurid 75 mph four rotational spin on lap 7 trying to grab third place at Camp Corner just before the finish line, I went off onto the in-field but straight into gear and back on track to finish fourth in class.   Quite hairy at 110 mph into Quarry Corner in a Smart car but great fun.

P.S. I have to be honest, the Porsche and the BMW were lapping me.

A huge thank you to James Palmer who prepared and modified my car and supported me throughout  the weekend - - www.smarts4youracing.com

History:-
David found an unexploded bomb when 11 years old and lost both legs, the right one above the knee and the left leg below the knee and his left hand at the wrist.
 
David competed in over 600 events, he raced and competed in rallies with LHD cars so that he can change gear with his right hand and use a vacuum operated clutch operated by a T lever on the top of the gear stick.
 
To steer he uses a ball on the wheel and a deep cup fitted to his artificial arm and uses his left leg on the accelorator and brake which are conventionally mounted on the floor.
 
The MGB cockpit - LHD, clutch and overdrive control on gearstick - bit like playing a piano with one hand at high speed!
 
My beloved MGB came out to play in many guises - this is the car in rally format on the RAC International Historic Rally 1997 on an incident packed Special Stage at Woburn. 
 
We won our class but only after other class contenders, two Porsches and a Lotus Cortina, all ended up in the lake at a blind S bend on the Woburn stage.
 
We avoided a ducking as we could actually see the Lotus on top of one of the Porsches!
 
Still, if you don`t finish you can`t win!
 
On the right -
Racing at Oulton Park - MGB in its original blue and white livery.
 
 
Below left -
 
1963 historic MGB in two races in November 2002 at the Silverstone Eight Clubs Meeting - my 99th and 100th races. 
 
This meeting was one of my all time favourites, the real essence of grass roots club racing.
 
 
Left photograph - 
At Brands Hatch - Clearways - everyone else going the other way round the circuit!!
 
I didn`t always follow the racing line or the rest of the pack! - the second of two spins, this one at Clearways at Brands Hatch.

 
 
My historic 1962 Porsche 911 on the Scottish Rally just before it was written off on the Ulster Rally.  Over a blind brow  - sharp turn right - in the air - no steering  - hit tree head on at about 70 mph.  Ouch!
 
Back to the circuits where the trees and stone walls are so far back you can't see them!
 
 
This is my MGB in torrential rain coming on the main straight of the club circuit, the race was red flagged next lap. I thoroughly enjoyed racing in such conditions having competed in autocross on mud!

Having had to learn to walk and balance again I am certain that my feel and control in such conditions had been enhanced. Douglas Bader told me he felt that after returning to fly following his plane crash.
 
After rebuilding the MGB for a stint of Historic rallying, it was back to the circuits for my hard working machine.
 
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 - into a major accident, I was the seventh car to join an expensive scrap heap - three cars were written off including my own.

Hello overdraft - goodbye racing career. Hopefully the BBC video will be loaded shortly which proves it wasn`t my fault.

I did go out with a bang from the circuits but I am still involved with motorsport as a member of the MSA Medical Advisory Panel so if you want any help getting started give me a call - 01923 265577