Despite losing both arms in a tragic accident, a racing enthusiast has managed to pursue his love by driving cars with his feet and even competing in drifting championships against able-bodied drivers.
In a motorcycle accident in 2006, Bartek Ostalowski lost both arms, but it didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream of being a professional racing driver. At the age of 20, Bartek was left armless and hit with the difficult task of learning to drive a car on a race track, but he summoned the confidence and determination to persevere, and in three years he had mastered the art of handling a racecar with his feet. Bartek Ostalowski is the only professional sport driver in the world that drives with his feet.
Bartek customized his Nissan Skyline GT-R racing to accommodate his physical constraints, adding a stronger transmission, an independent gearbox, and a brand new engine. The ambitious Polish driver steers with his left foot while controlling the pedals with his right. The shoulder is used to operate the automatic.
Bartek said in an interview with Business Insider:
“After my accident, I was looking for a solution. I asked myself if I wanted to race again what would I need to do? I heard about someone in Poland who, like me, had no arms, but he drove a car on a daily basis with no problem. After meeting him, my dream and passion for motorsports were alive and strong, and I made the decision to return to racing one day.”
Bartek Ostalowski took on an even bigger challenge, drift racing, after earning a name for himself on the Polish racing circuit. If you’ve ever tried drifting, you know how difficult it is. It requires quick reactions and precise hand-eye coordination to keep the car in control while it skids around the course. Barek, on the other hand, manages to accomplish this feat solely with his feet.
Ostalowski placed ninth out of 50 drivers in the Polish Drift Championship in 2019, one of Europe’s most competitive championship series, and he won the international Czech Drift Series the year before, defeating dozens of other professional sports drivers.