• Oct 9th 2009 at 8:57AM
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Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black - Click above for high-res image gallery

Looks like Luc Costermans (a.k.a. the Blind Belgian) is no longer the world's fastest sight-challenged driver. The latest person to snatch the world land speed record for the blind is South Africa's Hein Wagner. Wagner, who has been blind since birth, pushed a borrowed Mercedes-Benz SL65 Black Series to 322.5 km/h, just a tick over 200 mph. That puts him in the Guinness Book of World Records, ahead of Costermans, and it's not the first record for Wagner, though.

This is the same man who became the first South African to set a world land speed record, sighted or not, back in 2005 when he pushed a Maserati to 167 MPH. The deposed champion, Costermans, can take consolation in being the first blind man to break the 300 km/h barrier. Wagner himself might have to be content with being the first to break 200 mph, as previous record holder Mike Newman hopes to take an 1,800-hp Keating TKR supercar well past that figure later this month. In fact Newman is going after the overall production car speed record of 257 mph currently held by the SSC Ultimate Aero.

For now at least, the record belongs to Wagner. His record run was achieved on the runway at the Upington International Airport in Northern Cape, South Africa, with copilot Ray Wakefield of Speedrecord SA riding shotgun. Wagner has always had an adventurous streak, having previously run the New York Marathon (in 4:27!), skydived (skydove?) from 10,000 feet, completed the Construction du Cap bike race solo, competed in the Cape-to-Rio yacht race, and he has even climbed the ten highest peaks in the Western Cape. Wagner is raising money for his Vision Trust organization, which makes technology more accessible to the blind.

So what's up next for Wagner? He plans to fly a Boeing from London to Johannesburg -- with passengers. It was probably hard enough to find one passenger for the drive in the Benz, getting a full load of passengers for the flight might take a bit more persuading. But what the heck, it's for a good cause, right? Thanks for the tip, Dean!

[Source: News 24]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      That would be a nice coffin if he fails.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is nice to see that even the blind have excellent choice in vehicles.
      The SL 65 Black is one bad mother.. shut your mouth.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I dont understand whats so great about this? It just confirms that driving in a steight line is so easy a blind man can do it.

      And i dont see how this guy gets any satisfaction out of this?...I could see maybe riding shotgun at leguna seca so you could feels the G forces but going in a steight line???heh?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Learn how to spell please.
        • 5 Years Ago

        I was totally "nonplussed" by Ford's recent MASSIVE ad campaign featuring an old blind man driving a Ford Mustang GT in the salt flats . . . and now this ?

        Just wait until the "sitting in a bathtub full of spaghetti" World record is broken by a blind man ! If the bathtub is made by an auto manufacturer (Lamborghini made women's shoes after all) then we'll get to read and comment about it here at Autoblog. Lucky us eh ?

      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree I havnt seen the car on their website though
      • 5 Years Ago
      wait, 167 in a maserati? was that an old blind speed record?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well..... although I agree driving in a straight line is simple enough, his other achievements are significant (for a blind man). I do wonder though, how is this guy going to get certification to fly passengers into London?? I don't believe this can happen. Maybe he should take up the piano instead.

      Either way, good luck to him!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think they'll let him do take offs or landings. But I can see him piloting the plane once they are at cruising altitude, just hit the auto-pilot button. :D

        But he sure does have an impressive list of achievements, blind or not.
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