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TKART magazine Once in a lifetime | Wheelchair Karting. When karting becomes… Medicine
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Luca Basso
05 July 2023 • 12 min. read
We witnessed a karting event with 200 participants firsthand. No, it was not a WSK race, but an event organised by the association founded by Niccolò "Niko" Tremolada which allows all people with physical, mobility or mental disabilities to experience the thrill of speed. Because karts, as well as being simple motor vehicles, can be much more. They can become a real cure, for the wounds of the body and soul.
“Always believe, never give up”: no, this is not a click-catching caption from a social network post or a motivational phrase from the latest web guru. In short, it is not one of those perfect phrases to fuel the banal rhetoric that characterises much of the digital communication of our age. This time the phrase "Always believe, never give up" takes on well-defined boundaries, capable of restoring the right value to the words. In fact, it is the motto chosen by Wheelchair Karting, the association that promotes "kart-therapy" for all the handicapped people who wish to experience the thrill and adrenaline of taking to the track on board a go-kart. It all starts from the extraordinary story of Niccolò "Niko" Tremolada, a boy in love with speed and motorsport who in 2011 saw his life change radically. Two days before his 18th birthday Niko, as always, was out and about on a motorbike: he reached an intersection like many others, but someone did not respect the right of way and the impact was inevitable and tremendous. Niko was alive, but the diagnosis was one that takes your breath away: spinal cord injury to the vertebrae. Translated, it means, in the current state of medical knowledge, to live forever in a wheelchair. Niko has a different body to deal with, but the energetic and tenacious attitude of his personality hasn't changed an inch, quite the contrary. This is why, having overcome the difficult period experienced in hospital, not without complications, once back home he only had one goal: to drive. He can't get back on a bike? Not so bad: he started whizzing around the track on a kart, suitably adapted to his physical conditions. From that moment karting became real therapy, to disconnect from everyday difficulties and experience moments of pure and carefree joy.
Niccolò Tremolada, the founder of Wheelchair Karting.
It is a fact that if you find "medicine", you are a genius. However, if you keep the "medicine" only to yourself, you are selfish. And Niko isn't selfish at all: for this reason he decided to share this "cure" with other people with disabilities who can benefit from adequate "therapy" and in 2020 he founded Wheelchair Karting: "Driving a kart, says Niko, gave me the feeling of freedom and allowed me not to think about my accident. And, therefore, to be competitive in relation to other people. One day I met Federico Leo (an Italian driver, active in the GT scene, editor's note) on the track and we made a video together which was later published on YouTube. So many kids with disabilities started asking me for advice on how to adapt their kart to their disability: from there came the 'crazy' idea of founding the association. My initial goal was to have two karts available: But we went much further than the goal! The next step was to have a second kart with double driving”. To really understand what Wheelchair Karting is, you need to take part in one of their events: so we scheduled an event for Friday 26 May at the Big Kart circuit in Rozzano, just outside the city of Milan (Italy). We arrived at 9.30 and, despite the pleasant climate given that it was in the morning, a hot day seemed to lie ahead of us, one that takes your breath away, typical of late spring in northern Italy. This was precisely why, while we tried to orient ourselves between the paddock, the track and the hospitality of the association, we noticed a great coming and going of people under some trees, sheltered from the sun: there were those who were involved in unloading karts from two vans and those who, on the other hand, were already preparing them for the day to come, arranging all the accessories and preparing to carry out a dutiful "installation lap".
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