This story has been some time in the making. Something like three months in the making, actually. What’s more, this is one of the best stories I’ve ever had the honor and privilege of sharing. Why’s it taken so long? We are seriously short on pictures to go with it and the folks at Project Mobility are very busy. Nevertheless, this story needs told. Read it and think about what you – as a gearhead – can bring to the whole world.
What’s your name? Where are you located?
Stefan Povolotsky, Somerset, UK
What do you do for a living?
I own and run Mammouth 4×4 Trading Ltd., specialising in the design and manufacture of 4×4 aftermarket accessories.
What is your personal automotive/gearhead/petrolhead backstory?
I have worked within the Land Rover aftermarket for 15 years and been a competitor in off-roading and winching events. I have always been a huge fan of rally/WRC events and, of course, a “sofa-based” competitor of the Dakar Rally and other major international rallies like the IRC and Baja.
Why was Project Mobility started?
My wife came up with the concept. As a company, we were always being asked to donate products and sponsor people in relation to the armed forces and the major service charities. She wanted to know where the money went and did it really benefit the end person. Instead of questioning, she decided to use our contacts, experiences and knowledge base to actually help end users and share our passion of Land Rovers and engineering directly. She took the bull by the horns and Project Mobility was born.
How did all this begin? How have you been involved?
It all began in October 2009. Initially, I thought the wife had gone bonkers; she got a part time job to fund the set up and researched into disabled and limbless driving and regulations. She found a double amputee soldier who could not drive his own Land Rover. She rang around the industry, raised some cash, and then came to me with the dilemma of… I have the car, the volunteers, and all the parts… make it happen… so I did!
Sally kept pushing onwards with amazing ideas and formed a crew of volunteers. She was a “volcano of positiveness,” as she used to say. She trained to be a disabilities nurse and quit working in the NHS because she never got to help change lives, which is what she wanted to do. Now she could be an advocate for change and her highest aspiration is an amputee F1 driver!
From there on in, the aspirations got higher and I agreed to be the team principle for the race teams and manage the fleet and conversions.
What were some of the first challenges/setbacks in organizing?
I think the first challenges are still existing challenges. It’s relatively easy to get parts and product donations, but it’s hard cash that becomes more of a setback; for entry fees, logistics, insurances, accommodations to get the rally car out there and give people experiences. Fundraising is always hard and we hope to get some companies to sponsor us financially and that they see the benefits of working alongside us as partners and how our team and their amazing resourcefulness and positiveness can benefit all.
Set backs, I guess being promised things that never come to fruition!
Driving is instant freedom.
What were some of the first victories/advances?
That very first car, knowing by doing some mechanical work and adaptions we gave mobility and freedom and independence to someone who had it taken away in a second… it can take a long time for some of the amputees to get on prostheses full time, so driving is instant freedom.
Also, working with the MSA on obtaining assessments and race licenses for the team, and with each license that comes through, the delight that brings the individual and the team. AND OF COURSE being filmed for Top Gear – until that point our voice was never heard, no-one was interested.
Why does Project Mobility matter?
PROJECT MOBILITY is a not for profit organisation formed with the intent to empower the differently able-bodied to take on and compete with the able-bodied on their own terms in some of the most competitive arenas Motorsport has to offer.
Project Mobility proves that, with the right support, infrastructure and dedication, differently able-bodied individuals can take on and beat their able-bodied counterparts whilst acting as ambassadors for the disabled community and inspiring the wider disabled and socially excluded population to access and engage in Motorsport or indeed any other competitive sport or activity.
How has the organization changed, compared with the original vision?
I guess it has just evolved. We started off converting a few Land Rovers so that injured soldiers could have an adventure and for off-roading and trails driving, and now we are attempting the infamous Dakar!
The vision has moved forwards due to more people contacting us and getting involved. The beneficiaries and stakeholders help shape our objectives and as such we now have three main projects:
The real intent is to create a sustainable programme of inspiration, employment and success that gives the differently able-bodied a sense of purpose, belonging and pride.
Where do you see Project Mobility in the future? What are you driving toward?
Motorsport provides a platform that captures public interest and delivers a high profile halo to spread the project mobility objective. The real intent is to create a sustainable programme of inspiration, employment and success that gives the differently able-bodied a sense of purpose, belonging and pride. The Project Mobility Academy will be run by those injured or affected by conflict for the general disabled community.
The airing of support on BBC’s Top Gear programme has raised awareness of what Project Mobility is aiming to achieve alongside differently abled bodied persons.
Why is Project Mobility important to the gearheads of the world who may never meet you?
Our hobbies, mechanical, spanner-happy skills can help give others confidence, independence and a sense of achievement. I guess the idea that charity begins at home with a twist, have you ever wondered what glee and motivation taking a disabled person around a track in a sports car, or sharing your car maintenance skills to help a paraplegic be more self-reliant on fixing and maintaining their own car, or even setting an aspirational challenge and bringing together a group of individuals and aiming to win something, how this could benefit someone’s confidence which may have been knocked due to mental or physical illness and trauma? Let’s face it if you love Motorsport and cars and the roar of a finely tuned V8, does it matter what label you may hold, whether it’s disabled, amputee, solider, hero, clinically depressed, Post Tramatic Syndrome? We just all love Motorsport and cars and engines… let’s share the passion.
How can the gearheads of the world make a difference, looking beyond Project Mobility?
The concept of the project can be shared by all! We would love to there to be mini projects all around the world… NASCAR, drag racing, historic rebuilds, sports car developments… engaging the socially excluded in OUR joint passions to really make a difference and “drive through adversity.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during this journey?
Look beyond what you might see in front of you, because no matter the label someone might carry, everyone has a skill to offer. They might not know what it is yet, and maybe you’re the person to help them discover it.
Where can the gearheads united connect with Project Mobility? With you, personally?
You can read about us on
We have a shop on our website and send all over the world… but we would love to connect with our friends in the USA and help Project Mobility touch lives over the pond!
Any closing thoughts?
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” – Martina Navratilova
If you’re a gearhead, I like to think you read through this story and felt a desire to do something more with your skills. I mean, don’t you? Wouldn’t it be awesome to apply all your experience learning about cars and turning wrenches to some seriously good use beyond the usual? What does that look like to you? How did this story make you feel about being a gearhead?