Life saving cars: The story of a cancer patient and an amputated racing driver

Life saving cars: The story of a cancer patient and an amputated racing driver

Written by Staff Writer

21 May, 2017 | 6:03 pm

Having a love for cars, being a petrol-head is almost a religion for those who are into it. It’s a passion, a way of life.

It is one of those things where the ones who are not into it, would not understand why car guys/girls do it. And they often do not really care and some of them tend to think that it’s a waste of time and money.

But…, there are stories of petrol-heads whose cars helped save their lives, no -not in a crash but in many other ways. This is one story of a man living in the UK, whose Evolution IX gave him the strength and reason to fight cancer.

There are other stories, even here in Sri Lanka where the love for cars help certain individuals get through life. Motivating them, giving an unexplainable emotional strength and being a reason to believe in themselves to do better in life, to work harder so they can spend more time working on their cars.

The following is an inspiring story of one such individual from Poland.

The Amputated Drifter…



Bartek Ostalowski grew up with big ambitions of becoming a professional racing driver. However, he lost both his arms back in 2006 when he was just 20 years old in a devastating motorcycle accident.

But instead of giving up on his dreams, this young Polish lad put on his best brave-face and faced his demons. He set his sights on learning to race with his feet!


Three hard and tough years went by, and at 23 years-old he became the first person in the world, with no arms, to be granted full international racing licence. Ever.

Now a licensed racing driver, Bartek didn’t just get back on the competitive seat, he even competed in the European Championship of Rally Cross and also the Polish Championship Rally Raceway Cross.

Bartek exceeded all his expectations on racing, even topping his class in rounds of the Cup of Poland, he decided to shift things up a notch.

This guy got into the world of drifting!


As racing enthusiasts and car gamers would know, drifting is all about driving sideways in the fastest way possible. It requires rapid shifting while having well-timed co-ordination on the use of handbrake and throttle control.

Nissan Skyline R34, the dream car for most car enthusiasts and definitely the gamers out there, was Bartek’s choice of car for the sport. He not only customized the car with the necessary equipment which will allow him to compete in drifting events, he founded his own team ‘Bart Racing’.

His upgrades include stronger transmission and an independent gearbox, using his shoulder to manually shift gears, but uses a standard race-spec steering wheel -which he controls with just one foot while using the other foot to brake, e-brake and on the throttle.

Keeping it real

So all in all, a vehicle can be and are a safe haven to petrol heads all around the world. It is something that keeps some of them sane and focused in a world that could otherwise be distracting and influential in the wrong ways. 

Sure, the whole scenario about customizing and/or working on cars, tend to be affiliated with illegal street racing as depicted by movies or games. But no true petrol head would take part in or encourage it.

It is, without a doubt, a risk -not just on your life but a risk for others in the area. So if you have an adrenaline rush to race, take it to a closed-circuit racetrack and consult a trained professional on the techniques if unfamiliar. And always wear your seat-belt.

May the grip be with you!

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