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Posted by : Ray Wakefield - Date: 26 August 2005 at 12:37

Over the past few months Speedrecord S A has been working away at a rather unusual Land Speed Record attempt, in that a Cape Town man, Hein Wagner, who has been blind from birth, has approached us for help in becoming the World Blind Driving record holder.

I would straight away make the distinction between a Blind Driver record and a Blindfolded Driver record.

It is unfortunate that following a number of attempts world-wide by persons with various handicaps to compete in speed events despite their misfortunes, the television media has latched on to this as a good thing to exploit and are offering promises of instant fame to anyone willing to emulate a visually handicapped person by donning a blindfold and driving off down a strip.

Speedrecord S A finds this sort of thing to be in the very worst of taste, and will never be party to such sensationalist actions that are more suited to the fairground than the world of serious speed.

A genuine attempt by a blind driver however who is prepared to compete in the same arena as his more fortunate sighted brethren, raises his actions above this level of gimmickry to stand alongside other conventional record attempts. I am sure that those that are involved in, or enthusiasts of, the world of genuine speed record breaking recognise the difference.

Hein, a thirty-two year old Motivational Speaker is not new to the world of competition. He has competed in a number of marathons and allied track events, thereby gaining his Western Province Colours for Athletics. He has also taken part in the Cape to Rio Yacht race, as well as playing Blind Cricket for South Africa in the year that they won the World Cup in India .

He has secured the loan of a Maserati sports coupe from the concessionaires in Cape Town, and will be 'navigated' by Ray Wakefield of Speedrecord S A, who will be in the passenger seat alongside Hein, giving him verbal information in relation to his position on the track. Ray will not be allowed to touch any of the controls of the car during a run on the course.

The current record holder is Mike Newman, a blind Bank Manager from Cheshire , England .

He achieved 147.8mph (233kph) in a Supercharged 4.2litre Jaguar at Elvington Airfield in York in 2003.

The attempt will take place at Mafikeng airfield on 8th September 2005 . On the same occasion others will attempt to set a new absolute South African Land Speed Record over the flying kilometre, using a jet-powered dragster, whilst a piston engined Class record will also be challenged.

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