Weekend discussion: Motorsport world rallies around 17 year old amputee Billy Monger
One of the most remarkable stories of the past week has been the survival of 17 year old driver Billy Monger after a horrific F4 accident which cos...
One of the most remarkable stories of the past week has been the survival of 17 year old driver Billy Monger after a horrific F4 accident which cost him both lower legs and the way the motorsport world has rallied around to raise money for his rehabilitation.
Monger was involved in a collision at Donington Park last weekend and surgeons were forced to amputate both legs below the knee; the youngster was in a coma but has woken up.
News of the accident began to emerge as F1 teams and drivers were coming away from the Bahrain Grand Prix and leading figures shared details of the Just Giving page, set up by Monger's team JHR Developments to raise money for him.
The initial target was £260,000 but within days the total had surged well past that; Jenson Button chipped in £15,000, as did Max Verstappen, who is just two years older than Monger.
This weekend it stands at £720,000, a great testament to the power and inclusiveness of the motorsport community, both in contributing to the fund and publicising the appeal.
BRDC president Derek Warwick sent a message out to all members urging them to contribute; "I ask that you join me in supporting the efforts to raise money to assist Billy with his recovery," he wrote.
"It’s times like this that we need to help. Please donate anything that you can manage so that this brave young driver knows that our great Club is behind him."
Although the path to a professional single seater career has been made more difficult by this injury, Monger's racing career is by no means over, if he wishes to continue. Motorsport is becoming increasingly accessible to disabled people and there have been several inspirational examples in recent years. Disability had its own discussion section in last year's FIA Sport Conference in Turin.
Steven Hunter of Monger's team JHR Developments said that Monger is already addressing his future as a disabled driver,
"He has always been a remarkable young man and he's proving yet again his strength and his resilience," Hunter told Sky News. "I've never had a driver that puts so much effort and time into ensuring he produces the best he possibly can.
"Billy's already had his hands up pretending to use a steering wheel and seeing if he can use a hand clutch in his own imagination."
"You'll never take the racing driver out of the racing driver, so I wouldn't put it past him."
There are many examples from the sport for Monger to look to for inspiration if he wishes to continue racing, from the inspirational Alex Zanardi, who lost both legs above the knee and who has raced and won in GTs and won Paralympic gold medals, to the equally inspirational Frederic Sausset, who has no arms or legs, but finished the Le Mans 24 hours last year with two able bodied team mates.
David Butler, a racer and chairman of the British Motorsport Association for the Disabled, spoke at last years's FIA Sport Conference in Turin on disability in motorsport. He made the point that motorsport is unique in that disabled drivers can compete against able bodied drivers and once a driver is inside a car with a helmet on, there is no way for spectators outside to know who is disabled and who is not.
David Birrell, a former soldier turned racer, who lost his legs in Afghanistan, sent a Facebook message to Monger, "Please don't let it get to you and don't think life is over."
If you have not already contributed please follow this link to the appeal page
You can follow Monger's story on Twitter #billywhizzLeave your comments in the section below
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