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Bartosz Ostalowski is a Polish racing driver, the only racing driver in the world who has no arms and drives with his feet. He is accredited by the International Automobile Federation and participates in the same competitions as the other drivers of the Polish Drift Championships and European leagues.

Bartosz has recently started attending conferences and seminars as a motivational speaker and launched his own television series, where he tests exclusive cars and talks to various guests about their passions. Another passion of Bartosz is painting, he is a member of VDMFK Publishing House, where people paint with their feet and mouth.

You are a professional drifting driver, like many others. But there is something unique about you, the fact that you do not drive with your arms. What’s it like to drive a car with your feet?

That’s right. I am the only professional sports driver in the world who drives a car with his foot. When I lost both hands in a motorcycle accident, I was sure that my passion for motorsport was doomed. However, I decided not to give up and wanted to fight for my dream of being a racing driver. I searched for various solutions that would allow me to get back behind the wheel. One day I found a video on the Internet in which a driver without hands was driving a car with his foot. This gave me hope. The next day there was a car outside my house with an automatic transmission, because it was necessary. I put my left foot on the steering wheel, my right foot on the gas and drove with my dad to closed airport. There I tried on the car. It was a magical moment: I added gas – I started driving. It felt good. However, the position was unnatural. I lasted 15-20 minutes behind the wheel. The leg was tired, but I was happy that it worked. I started exercising my legs regularly and now I can even drive for about 6 hours.

When I drive on my drift car, my left leg operates the steering wheel and my right leg presses the gas, brake and handbrake. I change gears with my shoulder using a special shifter.

You use your feet for many other activities and hobbies, such as eating and painting. How did you achieve such a flexibility that you can hold a fork or a brush between your toes? 

It took a lot of exercise and stretching. At first, all objects fell off my foot. However, I tried not to give up and tried again. In the beginning, I learned to operate the computer with my feet and played games a lot. It turned out to be a great rehabilitation for my legs. I think that after some time my leg underwent a transformation and adapted to the new situation. Thanks to training and exercise, today I can eat and paint with my legs. 

When did you first dreamed of becoming a car racer? 

Ever since I can remember I have dreamed of being a professional sports driver. Even as a child I loved to drive a car on my dad’s lap. When I was a teenager I was reading magazines, watching automotive programs and fixing my first motorcycles. This dream has always been in me.

We know that in 2006 you lost both arms in a motorcycle accident. We are a dedicated online platform of psychologists, so indubitably we want to find out how did you manage to get out of depression and helplessness and find the courage to move on? 

I think my passions – motorsport and painting – helped me get back to a „normal” life. I was focused on my goal and consistently strived to achieve it. I tried to treat problems as new challenges. I was constantly looking for new solutions. Even when I got frustrated one day because I couldn’t do something, I went back the next day and did it again. Over time it started to come out and I saw progress. This progress showed me that I could return to a normal life. It drove me on.


Who supported you emotionally during this process of recovery and reinvention? 

It was family and friends who cared for me after the accident. It was also a huge support to meet people in a situation similar to mine, such as meeting Katarzyna Rogowiec, who has no hands but lives a normal life and works. This showed me that everything is possible and I can function on a daily basis.

The accident happened when you were 19, how did all these changes affect your personal and relationship life? 

The accident changed many things in my life. Before, I thought that people with disabilities were not independent and were doomed to rely on the help of other people. Now I see that it is completely different. I am independent in my daily life. I have also learned to appreciate what I have. I have also become more determined: when I set a goal, I do everything to achieve it. I think I have paradoxically become stronger, because now various unfortunate events are unable to break me.

It is said that all crises in life come with losses, but also with opportunities. What have you discovered about yourself and people in general from all this experience of personal reinvention? 

I think this is true. I am proof that it is so. When I lost my hands I thought that everything was over, but over time I saw new possibilities that allowed me to live as before. I see that in crisis situations we can motivate ourselves and achieve things that would seem impossible. Determination and hard work can make the results exceed our expectations.

Recently, I heard you talking on the TEDx Cluj stage, where you received a lot of applause from the aufience. Are motivational speeches part of your future plans? 

I definitely do! I noticed some time ago that I have a certain mission to inspire people to fight their problems. My story shows that even after a dramatic accident, we can be happy. In recent years, I often perform at various events: conferences, business meetings or events for the public. It’s a great pleasure for me and I’m happy that I can somehow help other people who sometimes lack motivation. I receive many messages and comments that my speeches are a clue for people to fight for their own dreams.  

When will we have the opportunity to hear or see you in Romania? What impression did Cluj-Napoca leave on you?

This is a difficult question. At the moment we do not have a trip to Romania planned, but maybe there will be an opportunity to attend another event or drifting competition there. During my stay in Cluj-Napoca, I had the opportunity to explore the city and see the most important tourist spots. The city is very nice and has an interesting architecture. I felt very comfortable in Cluj-Napoca because the people I met were very friendly and welcomed me very well.

What would you say to those people who are dissatisfied with their lives, even though they enjoy the privileges of a whole body? 

I would suggest to them to find one thing they enjoy and find time to do it every day or at least once a week. I think the important thing is to focus on the positive, and treat problems as challenges and look for solutions on how to overcome them.

Pagina de Psihologie este o comunitate de psihologi, psihoterapeuți, psihiatri și oameni pasionați de psihologia relațiilor. Preocuparea față de cultivarea inteligenței relaționale, a sănătății emoționale și interpersonale este exprimată prin articole, evenimente și cărți de specialitate. Editura Pagina de Psihologie publică anual bestseller-uri naționale și internaționale. Iar contributorii noștri sunt specialiști cu experiență clinică și practică terapeutică. La secțiunea cursuri vă oferim atât activități educaționale online, cât și programe de formare continuă și complementară.

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