Competing in high speed motorsport is difficult at the best of times, but imagine suffering with a mental disability while still being competitive. Welcome to the life of young driver Bobby Trundley who is attempting to defy the odds and become a top champion.
In honour of World Autism Awareness Week, we spoke to two young drivers about their own personal battles with Autism and how motorsport has helped them in their constant fight against this incurable condition. This is Bobby’s story.
Trundley (17) was diagnosed with Autism when he was just three years old and found his school life very difficult. Suffering from the bullying and intimidation that is all too common for those in his position, Trundley struggled to build friendships.
The National Autistic Society describes the condition as “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
“Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.”
As is the case with many disabilities, Autism is not black and white and in that you either have it or not. As a ‘spectrum condition’, the condition affects people in different ways with some suffering with ‘learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions.’
Trundley first discovered his passion for karting when he was invited to his cousins birthday party, an event that he was initially reluctant to attend. Aged 10 at the time, he was encouraged to take to the track while the other children ate lunch and he instantly fell in love – later joining the party and winning his first race on that day.
“It’s hard to explain really, I was so afraid of the noise and the smells of the kart track it overwhelmed me,” said Trundley, talking to the Reading Chronicle in December. “When it became quiet and I went back in they put on my helmet and everything around me seemed to fade away. I was left alone with my thoughts and relaxed. When I sat in the kart and drove out the pits it just felt right and I immediately fell in love; it fell into place naturally.
“People treated me like I was weird and a nobody, I suffered bullying and intimidation. I had very few friends and felt lonely. When I started karting I met new people who I shared my love of racing with. I was treated with respect because the other kid’s parents told them I had Autism and they would talk to me about my racing. I struggle to talk to people I don’t know unless it’s about cars or Karts. I can’t wait to put my helmet on and get into a kart because then I am no different to anyone else on track. We are the same with the same goal; to win races! People ask me for advice & tips now and I have good friends in karting who look out for me.”
With a successful grounding in karts and having previously been a finalist in the Ginetta Junior Scholarship, Trundley is now looking to make the step up into car racing and has some ambitious targets.
“My dream is to race in the British Touring Car Championship,” continued Trundley. “It would be a fantastic platform to raise Autism Awareness and of course a huge achievement for me. My website is being constructed where I will have links to Autism Charities and resources. I am having my helmet painted and a new race suit with the Anna Kennedy Online & the National Autistic Society Logos.
“I want to inspire others with Autism to be proud of who they are and to go out there chasing dreams. I want the world to change its perception of Autism and treat us with the dignity and respect we deserve. It is up to the more able amongst us to speak for those who have no voice.”