PASSION AND PERSEVERENCE: Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, Andrew Phillips hasn't stopped doing what he loves.
PASSION AND PERSEVERENCE: Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, Andrew Phillips hasn't stopped doing what he loves. Marian Faa

'When I get in the bike there's no pain - everyone is equal'

"COMING out here is like medicine," Andrew Phillips said with a huge grin as high-speed sidecars flew past his face.

Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, Mr Phillips is clocking up faster track times than he ever imagined.

Racing is the "only thing" that takes his constant pain away after surgery to treat a heart aneurysm went horribly wrong.

"I've got pain all the time but when I get in the bike it goes away," he said.

When Mr Phillips woke up from surgery in 2016, his life took a bend sharper than turn 6 at the Morgan Park track.

 

BIG HEART FOR RACING: Andrew Phillips wouldn't dream of giving up the sport that keeps him grinning. Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, he is clocking up race times faster than ever and improving every day.
BACK ON TRACK: After a year of racing his modified bike, Andrew Phillips is now clocking up 32-second track times in the 2018 season of sidecar racing. Marian Faa

Unable to feel his toes, doctors realised the Triple A bypass surgery had caused Mr Phillips to lose muscle control and sensation from his waist down.

But becoming T-12 paraplegic didn't stop the Brisbane racer from pursuing his passion.

A former diesel fitter, Mr Phillips had been saving to buy the bike of his dreams - a Shelbourne 600 formula 2 sidecar that he imported from England.

Determined to keep up his adrenaline-inducing hobby, Mr Phillips modified the ride so he could operate the gears with his hands.

Soon he was revving again, but this time as a driver, not a "swinger".

He said the sport is what keeps him alive.

 

BIG HEART FOR RACING: Andrew Phillips wouldn't dream of giving up the sport that keeps him grinning. Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, he is clocking up race times faster than ever and improving every day.
BIG HEART FOR RACING: Andrew Phillips wouldn't dream of giving up the sport that keeps him grinning. Two years after becoming a T12 paraplegic, he is clocking up race times faster than ever and improving every day. Marian Faa

"When you're in the bike everyone is equal. There is no wheel chair I just feel like I am normal... or everyone else is disabled," Mr Phillips said with a chuckle.

Even though a broken leg will prevent him from racing today, you can see the sparkle in Mr Phillips eye as he watches other riders take on Morgan Park for the second round of the Australian Sidecar Championships this weekend.

"Coming out here for the first time I had sore cheeks for a week from grinning so much," he said.

"What else can you do - carry on doing what you love, sidecars is what I love."