An ex-motor race instructor who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS) has set ten official lap times at some of the most prestigious motor racing circuits in the UK on a custom mobility scooter, raising more than £4,300 for the MS Society.
Noel Wilson, 58, has set official lap times at 10 English and Welsh racing circuits – including home of the British Grand Prix Silverstone National Circuit – as part of his ‘Motorsport for MS’ challenge.
After a 24-year career in the motorsport industry, he is aiming to raise £20,000 for MS by conquering a series of circuits, drag strips, hill climbs, and short ovals across the UK.
Noel, who lives with his wife Karen in Blakelands, first started experiencing strange symptoms in 1992 when he lost vision in his left eye. His sight returned over the next 24 hours, but Noel didn’t think much of it. He had just started a new job as a motorsport instructor and was busy travelling all over the UK. But then years later in 2013, he says he woke up after a spinal procedure paralysed from the waist down: “MS is so unpredictable and different for everyone. For me, it was if the operation kicked my MS into life. I was very quickly diagnosed with secondary progressive MS and had to slowly teach myself how to walk again. I still use crutches, a wheelchair and mobility scooter, but I won’t let anything slow me down.”
More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK. MS attacks the nervous system; it’s unpredictable and different for everyone. People typically start experiencing symptoms in their 20s or 30s, and it’s often painful and exhausting and can cause problems with how we walk, move, see, think and feel.
Noel’s father was a race car driver and took him to his first Formula One Grand Prix when he was just five years old.
His dad’s career inspired him to start driving rally cars at 16 and racing has been a part of his life ever since. He says ‘Motorsport for MS’ is a way of keeping involved with the sport:
“It wasn’t easy giving up being an instructor, but I knew my brain wasn’t working like it used to and driving a car at 70mph is all about making quick decisions. I came up with the challenge while celebrating the New Year with my wife. I spoke with a close friend who won the 24 Heures du Mans LMP2 in 2015 and we decided to wrap my scooter in the colours of his winning car. We also installed a racing seat, a six point harness and a motor which doubled its speed from 4mph to 8mph.”
Noel says the first year of his challenge has been more successful than he ever expected: “We’ve raised £4,382 and received an astonishing amount of support from our friends and family, motorsport fans and some celebrity racers including hot rod champion Barry Lee. We’re looking forward back on the tracks in the New Year and raising as much as we can to help stop MS.”
Find more information about Noel’s Motorsport for MS challenge at www.motorsportforMS.co.uk or sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Motor-Sport-for-MS.
Find more information about MS or the MS Society at www.mssociety.co.uk. The MS Society also has a free helpline: 0808 800 8000.