Nigel Mansell suffered amnesia and loss of speech after Le Mans 2010 – he reveals a unique recovery method

Nigel Mansell was on the wrong end of a near-life threatening crash 7 years ago when he competed at Le Mans in 2010.

The impact itself doesn’t look substantial; his tyre blew out on one of the straights and sent the 1992 F1 World Champion hurtling into the barriers. Immediately after the incident, fans were assured that Mansell had only suffered a concussion, but the effects of the crash were much more damaging and Mansell endured and recovered away from the public eye.

The crash actually left the British driver with amnesia and a complete loss of speech. He couldn’t remember his wife, his children’s names and had found it very difficult to verbalize anything. Mansell, 67, is now a keen magician and credits this discipline as one that has helped him re-program his brain.

 

He said,

“I had to get my brain to work in a different way and it was a challenge. That’s why I took up magic and why I joined the Magic Circle a few years ago.

Now, in many ways, it has become as exciting as racing a car. There is no greater feeling than leaving someone open mouthed at a trick you can perform. Learning magic was a key part of me being able to make a full recovery – and lead the normal life I do today.

I started with the basics, learning the sleight of hand and card magic. But now I love to perform all different kinds of tricks for people. It will always be a part of my rehabilitation.”

– Nigel Mansell

LE MANS, SARTHE - JUNE 09: Nigel Mansell of England and driver of the # 5 Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek spins in the PlayStation chicane during practice for the 78th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour race at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans on June 9, 2010 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)

Mansell was motionless in the car after the impact, and the concussion clearly took its toll, but to get it all back by practicing magic is probably the best trick that the speedy mustache will perform. I guess the real trick is a repetitive cognitive process that uses a part of the brain that strengthens memory. Either way, Mansell has come away from the experience with a new found passion and warm words for other racing drivers currently suffering from race-afflicted injuries.

The Brit added,

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michael, his family and his friends. Everyone will be hoping one day he comes through this, that one day there is better news.

What gives me hope is the incredible advancements we see now in medicine. What is possible now, we would not have believed possible 30 or 40 years ago.

No one knows what might be on offer in two or three years’ time for people suffering with conditions like Michael has.”

– Nigel Mansell

The racing legend’s scariest impact to date arguably came in 1993 as he made a special appearance in the Ford Mondeo BTCC challenger at a very wet Donington Park. Another crash that he walked away from. Racing is sometimes in the blood, and Mansell is one of those drivers that can’t be deterred.