Janis McDavid - Joystick Racer
Joystick Racer - without arms and legs over the race track
The dream of driving has always played a big role in Janis McDavid's life. For him, this freedom means deciding for himself where to go and when. But behind the freedom is much more, "that I am the same on the road as everyone else. It doesn't matter that I don't have arms and legs. That's a great feeling." A good ten years ago, Janis McDavid was able to fulfil this dream with a Mercedes Sprinter customised for him and has since travelled 320,000 kilometres without an accident, using only a 4-way joystick and the Space Drive driving and steering system.
"As a child, I actually always dreamed of cool sports cars," he says. This dream has now also come true in a BMW M3. The idea of turning a childhood dream into reality came about during Jani's visit to the PARAVAN mobility park a good year ago. Actually, it was about his new car, which will be a minibus again, but which will be much more agile and faster than the old Sprinter. Janis McDavid asked himself, "Can't it be even faster? "Of course it's possible!" said PARAVAN Managing Director Roland Arnold and showed Janis his latest project, an Audi R8 LMS GT3, the first sports car in the world that manages without any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear - approved by the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB). Why not test this technology with a 4-way joystick on the race track?
Before the first tests at the Hockenheimring, Janis McDavid had respect. "I don't want it to be a drive, I want to go a bit faster," says Janis. "I'm very happy to test limits, but I'm still careful when doing so and of course I don't want to damage anything." He has a prominent coach for this, Bernd Schneider, five-time DTM winner, who himself sat in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Space Drive cockpit this season and has also tried his hand at the joystick.
Then in 2021, Janis McDavid was eagerly awaiting his first official DTM entry. At the third race weekend of the 2021 season in Zolder, Belgium, he drove the inaugural lap - as part of the Diversity Challenge of the Diversity Charter. The author and motivational trainer thus set himself another big task. With its ten bends, Zolder is considered an "old school" race track. Fast, challenging and not without: "A driving mistake quickly leads to a ride into the gravel bed - I have a lot of respect for that," says McDavid. On Friday before the race, Timo Glock familiarised the "joystick racer" with the details of the circuit. McDavid: "I'm particularly proud to be able to lead the top-class field at this particular venue." After all, the Belgian circuit calls itself the "Home of DTM". After all, the debut race took place here in 1984.
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