Nicolas Hamilton: Inspired to Drive [Exclusive Interview]

Nicolas Hamilton: Inspired to Drive
Interviewed and written by Aaron Robinson - Editor

Born with cerebral palsy, young world-class professional race car driver Nicolas Hamilton would spend the majority of his early life in a wheelchair and was told that he would never be able to walk. Having a disability, along with enduring many challenges and obstacles in his life, Hamilton would eventually exchange his wheelchair for the cockpit of his specially modified race car.

Today, Hamilton can be seen racing in man competitions and adds his voice on British TV for Formula One Broadcasting, the world’s most watched motorsport  series.

I had the opportunity to speak with Nicolas Hamilton about his amazing life, exciting professional career and his inspiring story concerning his newly released short film Inspired to Drive.” Here is what he has to share.

Aaron Robinson: You have accomplished a tremendous endeavor as a world-class professional race car driver. What type of gratification do you receive when you look over the course of your career of living your dream?
Nicolas Hamilton: I didn’t definitely realize the magnitude of what I achieved until I sit here and sort of tell people about it in interviews. I really realized the mountain that I had to climb to overcome everything. In fact, at the start of my life, I was told that I would never walk - I would never talk. I can sit here now and say I’m a professional race car driver and race against athletes. It’s very phenomenal to be honest because I think that just in general life you don’t realize it because you’re always focused on improving and reaching a goal - you don’t think to take the time to give yourself a pat on the back and realize what you have achieved already.

Aaron: While working on your craft, you had the will power to stay persistent, determined, motivated, inspired and encouraged. What made you not want to give up on your dream as a world-class professional race car driver?
Nicolas: The amount of obstacles I’ve had to overcome, just to walk, generally as a young child until now - the amount of times I was falling over, I was hurting myself, hitting my head, operations and all of these sort of things. I always had the determination to never give up and really focus on pushing myself to the best of my ability. I think I just used that mentally. I had to grow up and live. I used that mentality to move forward to what I wanted to do as a career. If it really wasn’t for my condition and the determination that I had to overcome to enjoy my life, then I wouldn’t be probably so dedicated to what I had to achieve in my career. [I give credit] to my family for really being dedicated to me -just to treat me normally and no different than anybody else. [I also give] credit to myself to go thru the pain, strains and struggles. It sort of makes you realize regardless of how hard things are sometimes. It may suck at the time and you might want to give up, but giving up is the easiest way out; it’s the easiest option. The harder you push, the greater the reward is eventually. Sometimes it just takes some time to get there.  

Aaron: Most individuals label disabled people as being disadvantaged and often times feel as though they are defeated before they began their endeavors. How were you able to overcome the obstacles and negative adversities that you faced while being disabled?
Nicolas: I think, the first thing is the mindset and sort of realizing that it is what it is. You have what you have, you can’t change it, the only thing that you can do is live with it through the best of your abilities the best way you can. My condition is what I know. Every day I’m always learning something new, something different and something similar. There are always changes going on. I think that’s the whole fact, that’s why I’m here and I have to make do with what I have. It kind of spurred me on. Really, there’s no other way; there’s no other option. There is no other avenue that I can go down that would make my life better. Any way that I can make my life better is by overcoming obstacles and pushing through it. To get out of a wheel chair and be able to walk was the biggest obstacle that I had. The whole motor sport thing is completely a different task and goal. I sort of used the same mindset that I had to learn how to walk, to driving a race car. That’s pretty much how I did it.

Aaron: At the age of 24, many young people are sometimes not focused and unsure of what they want to accomplish in life at an early age. What sets Nicolas Hamilton apart from others as being unique and interesting as an individual?
Nicolas: First of all, I wouldn’t say that I am different than anybody else. I went through the same procedures of not knowing what I wanted to do. Leaving school and thinking “okay, what do I do now?” I’m unique but everybody else in the world has their own story and their own different obstacles. Mines is learning to walk and then racing. I would say that I am not any different than anybody else. That’s a natural process that you go through - not knowing where you want to be. At the end of the day, life is very unpredictable. You never predict where you will be; you never know what is going to happen tomorrow…so you better live today, the best way you can. Anything can happen if you stay focused and stay grounded, stay humble, and know the individual who you are.

Aaron: Your brother Lewis Hamilton is a world champion professional race car driver, how has brotherhood and friendship been for the both of you guys while on this journey?
Nicolas: Well, I think the biggest thing is we are just a normal family. We came from nothing. When Lewis was born we still had nothing; and when I was born we still had nothing. We grew up in a one bedroom flat and it was four of us. For us, it’s been a very humble journey.  We never knew that we would be sitting here today. I achieved so much; I’ve overcome so much. My legs don’t get in the way; my condition doesn’t get in the way of my life. I thank not just Lewis as a brother, but my parents and all of us as Hamilton’s as a unit. We created what we created. I think it’s important. The main point that I have to make is that you have to just stay tight with your family 100 percent always through everything. I think it’s the tight knit that we have which sort of made the journey so valuable and so nice.

Aaron: Wow! You have an amazing story!
Nicolas: (Laugh) I’m just one in many man!

Aaron: When fans and viewers watch the short film “Inspired to Drive”, what do you want them to take away?
Nicolas: Personally, Inspired to Drive was about my story. People know about my story but they don’t know the ins and outs of it. Basically, my career started on gaming. I think what I want people to take away from it is that…you know what my dad told me, “That I’ll never make a career out of playing games or racing games”. He always told me to read a book or something constructive. I think from the video, you might be able to take that you can pretty much do anything that you want to do within reason as long as you have realistic targets and realistic goals. Stay realistic and grounded in what you want to do. You never know where it’s going to take you.

Aaron: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for individuals who are disabled or may not be disabled who has a dream or vision, but however feels that it’s impossible to accomplish or reach?
Nicolas: My mother always told me, “When there’s a will there’s a way, as long as you have the desire to do something regardless if you area disabled or not."  There’s so much nowadays in terms of technology, experience and knowledgeable people that can really help you achieve your goals. The first thing that I have to say about able bodied people that can reach their goals, that can get up every day and don’t have to worry about stretching, being in pain, their ribs or pelvis being out of line. They can get up, they can run, and they can walk. With a disability, I think the thing that sort of made me realize is that being disabled doesn’t make you different, it makes you unique and it makes you special. It’s the goals that you set and the target that you reach, which makes you unique and different from anybody else.

Aaron: Outside of racing, what are some of the things that you enjoy doing or like to do for hobbies?
Nicolas: A big hobby for me is doing stuff and movement for my legs. I like to play basketball a lot, the usual listening to music, and gaming is a big thing. I’m not much of a TV watcher. I like doing active stuff. I love playing tennis.  

Aaron: This was a really heartfelt interview. I really love you for what you’re doing. I appreciate individuals like you Nicolas.
Nicolas: No worries buddy. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it!

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