Start your engines: Blind and low vision drivers hit the track

10 May 2021

More than 50 people who are blind or have low vision were given the rare chance to get behind the wheel at the inaugural Blind Speed Track Day at Wakefield Park Raceway on Tuesday, May 4.

Hosted by Blind Speed, in partnership with Vision Australia, Blind Sports and Recreation NSW/ACT and others, participants made the most of a range of opportunities to get in touch with their inner rev-head, with the highlight being the chance to drive a supervised lap of the raceway.

Michael Linke, Vision Australia general manager of commercial services, said the day will give many people the chance to try something that’s otherwise off-limits to them.

“Getting behind the wheel mightn’t seem like the most exciting thing in the world, but driving a car is something many people from the blind and low vision community don’t ever get to experience. For others, this might be their first opportunity to get back in the driver’s seat after losing their vision later in life,” Michael said.

“As someone who lives with low vision, I’m extremely excited about today and experiencing something that many people take for granted,” he said.

Along with driving a supervised lap, participants took a hot lap around the track in a race car and on the back of a motorcycle.

The day is the brainchild of Blind Speed founder Ben Felten. Blind due to retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic condition, Ben has not let that get in the way of his speed dreams. In 2018, Ben set the Guinness World Record for fastest speed for a motorcycle ridden blindfolded, when he hit an average speed of 272km/h in outback South Australia.

“People who are blind or have low vision are often told what they can’t do, not what they can do. For our community, it’s often just a matter of creating a safe and supportive environment for people to try new things,” Ben said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to pursue my dreams and I want others to have the same opportunity. We’re planning to take these days across Australia and who knows, we might find another person who wants to set a Guinness World Record.”