Blind Man To Take On Daring Motorcycle Speed Record
Australian Rider Embarks On A Brave Blind Land Speed Record Attempt!
Updated August 13, 2018
The current World Record for the fastest motorcycle ever ridden whilst blindfolded stands at 265.33km/h (164.90 mph), a record that was set by the UK’s Billy Baxter back in 2003, before being bettered in 2013 by Stuart Gunn who raised the bar to 167.1 mph. Now, an Australian rider is preparing to smash the record once again. Ben Felton, who is totally blind, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record at Speed Week next year.
Former Australian road racer and Fox Sports commentator, Kevin Magee will be acting as Ben’s navigator, and together they’re going to attempt the impossible, and the way that they’re doing it is awe inspiring. During training, and for the attempt itself, Magee rides behind Felton and navigates him by using an analog radio to ensure that he’s on the proper heading and on track for the blind land speed record.
“I basically tell him to go left or right with increasing levels of urgency, depending on how much I want him to turn,” Magee told Australia’s Daily Telegraph. “My voice acts as his eyes.”
The record will be performed on a Suzuki GSX 1300R Hayabusa that Magee has already test ridden to speeds exceeding their target, just over 200 mph.
“Ben can well and truly break the record. It’s just up to us now.”
Ben Felton began his riding career at age 7 and had dreams of riding professionally until he was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition at 16. By the time he turned 37, he was completely blind. Fast forward a few years, and after much thought, he decided to get back on his bike an attempt something incredible. Like many people suffering from disabilities, Ben has never let his condition get in the way of pursuing his dreams. He has award, medals and records to attest to that, having taken part in international rowing and cricket events. After his 42nd birthday, and realizing that his cricket days were behind him, Ben decided to return to his childhood dream of riding bikes, and now he’s ready to smash a world record.
With Magee’s experience (having competed in 36 grand prix races, and winning the 1988 Spanish GP) and with his guidance, it looks like all is going to plan. The key thing is communication. “The biggest thing I have to contend with is trust so having someone like Kevin, who will be my eyes, gives me the confidence,” Ben told The Telegraph. “When you’re doing 250km/h, you are travelling about 70m per second so he has to get his communication absolutely precise and I have to respond to that instantly. […] Because if we make one error in that second, that is the difference between running off the track or staying straight.”
We’ll have to wait until next year to see how the record attempt pans out, but mark the date on your calendar. The Speed Week 2017 event will take place at the legendary Lake Gairdner salt flats in South Australia between February 27th and March 3rd. Not only is Ben attempting the world record, but he has also been invited to enter into the Modified Production Fuel 1350cc class category, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for him.
While we know this isn’t what you’d call “breaking news” we do like to rally behind things like this. As riders, we all know someone who may have suffered an accident, or feels like their riding days are over. Thanks to inspiring stories like this, and emotional documentaries like “Dream The Impossible” we hope to encourage more people to get back on two wheels, in any way that they can, and never let a disability get you down. Take Ben as a classic example. It’s inspiring stuff from the land Down Under.
Pictures from Matthew Sullivan and Patrick O’Kane via The Telegraph (AUS)