Motorcycles

Blind Sydney man prepares for land speed motorcycle record attempt

Blind Sydney man prepares for ...
Blind land speed record holder Ben Felten celebrates with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee after setting a blind motorcycle speed record last year. This year, on a new Kawasaki ZX-10, they hope to beat their 156.25 mph record from 2017
Blind land speed record holder Ben Felten celebrates with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee after setting a blind motorcycle speed record last year. This year, on a new Kawasaki ZX-10, they hope to beat their 156.25 mph record from 2017
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Ben Felten gets a feel for the ZX-10R he'll be using in his land speed record attempt
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Ben Felten gets a feel for the ZX-10R he'll be using in his land speed record attempt
Ben Felten with the team from Kawasaki Australia, who are sponsoring the attempt
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Ben Felten with the team from Kawasaki Australia, who are sponsoring the attempt
Land speed records on stock bikes aren't very interesting... Until you do it blind.
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Land speed records on stock bikes aren't very interesting... Until you do it blind.
Drag strip testing on last year's bike
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Drag strip testing on last year's bike
Ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee rides behind Felten as he sets the record in 2017
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Ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee rides behind Felten as he sets the record in 2017
Blind Australian Ben Felten with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee in the lead-up to last year's record attempt, on a pair of Yamaha R1 superbikes
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Blind Australian Ben Felten with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee in the lead-up to last year's record attempt, on a pair of Yamaha R1 superbikes
Blind land speed record holder Ben Felten celebrates with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee after setting a blind motorcycle speed record last year. This year, on a new Kawasaki ZX-10, they hope to beat their 156.25 mph record from 2017
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Blind land speed record holder Ben Felten celebrates with ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee after setting a blind motorcycle speed record last year. This year, on a new Kawasaki ZX-10, they hope to beat their 156.25 mph record from 2017

It takes a bit of a different breed to go land speed racing. It's usually all about engineering and problem solving; the final run itself, as EV proponent and record holder Eva Hakansson told us recently, is more or less a final exam on your engineering project.

Not in this case, however. Ben Felten is taking to the salt flats at Lake Gairdner, South Australia this weekend, on a bone stock Kawasaki ZX-10R, a bike that should be able to approach 180 miles per hour straight out of the box. That's a terrifying speed for the road, but hardly for the salt.

Land speed records on stock bikes aren't very interesting... Until you do it blind.
Land speed records on stock bikes aren't very interesting... Until you do it blind.

Unless you consider the fact that Felten is totally blind, after Retinitis Pigmentosa destroyed his retinas by his late 20s. Felten founded the Nepean Blind Sports Club, and is the current co-ordinator of the Western Sydney branch of the NSW Sports Council for the Disabled. He can't see a damn thing.

So he's taking a crack at the outright world land speed record for a blindfolded motorcyclist. Which, mind you, he already owns after cracking 156.25 mph (251.46 kmh) last year on a Yamaha R1.

In order to do this, Felten has enlisted the help of former MotoGP rider Kevin Magee, who will ride behind him on a second bike, and give him radio instructions to help keep him pointed in the right direction and on the right line.

Ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee rides behind Felten as he sets the record in 2017
Ex-MotoGP racer Kevin Magee rides behind Felten as he sets the record in 2017

On the one hand, there's not much out there for him to crash into, so it's about as safe as blind motorcycling can get. And motorbikes don't tend to fall over as long as they're moving quick. On the other, it's blind freaking motorcycling – high speed blind motorcycling requiring a lot of precision that Felten will have to achieve while trying to listen to radio instructions through high-speed wind blast.

That's pretty wild. We wish Ben and Kevin all the best, and will check in on Monday to see how they went!

Source: Blind Speed

2 comments
Bob
Everyone has a different tolerance to risk and danger. Good luck Ben.
Paul Anthony
Hopefully they have great noise cancelation on their headsets