Monday, September 16, 2013

Breaking the Blind Speed Record on4-wheels...

Lamborghini's new Gallardo LP 570-4 Squadra Corse. (Image source:
This long dormant story sleeping at NoFendersville was rekindled when learning of Stewart Gunn just setting the Blind & Disabled Motorcycle speed record at a smidge over 167mph; EUREKA!

As I'd originally stumbled upon this blind persons pursuit of speed in the most peculiar fashion, after having briefly discussed the subject with Pamela; NO! Not that Pamela as in Anderson, but Oh Never Mind! As I'd still like to do an in-depth story about her outing  with a blind driver...

Thus, whilst I was searching the All Knowing gOOogleMunster for a long forgotten Formula Uno Piloto named Philippe Streiff:, who was the very first Grand Prix Driver to be seriously injured during my then just started journey of Formula 1, only knowing of him being permanently paralyzed - his 'WICKEDpedia page left a most intriguing tidbit at the bottom of the page...

Yet Streiff seems to be one of the countless Drivers who never ever garners any Press, as he seemingly had the talent needed to make it to the Big Leagues yet failed to ultimately find the right ride or show off his true potential whilst languishing with such teams as AGS and Tyrrell as forces conspired against him.

Streiff began his career relatively late at the age of 22 by competing in the Volant Motul competition, which he won in 1977 before graduating to Formula Renault the following year - taking his debutant victory at the French GP at Paul Ricard that summer. Feeling the need to progress rapidly, Streiff jumped up to European F3 for 1979 and finally became successful in 1980 when he beat the factory Martini team at Zolder, aboard his privately entered Martini-Toyota, and then won the French Formula 3 championship the following year.

For '82 Philippe moved to Henry Julian's Minnowesqe AGS F2 team where he finished in the Top-6 for three seasons before winning the very final F2 series race at Brands Hatch before  being called up by Renault to drive  a third "Works" entry at the '84 season ending  Portuguese Grand Prix.

Beginning the 1985 season in F3000 for AGS, Philippe was drafted into Ligier as Andrea 'DeCrasheris (de Ceaseris) replacement for the overly accident prone Italian, before a 'One-off for Tyrrell at South Africa before being signed as a fulltime driver the following year.

With Ligier's return to the F1 Circus after boycotting the South African event on the basis of Apartheid, Streiff would score his only podium upon finishing third at Adelaide on just three wheels after having collided with teammate Jacques Laffite, albeit Laffite's chassis remained undamaged and he held off Streiff's three-wheeler en route to finishing runner-up to Keke Rosberg's Williams.

Yet things never clicked at Tyrrell, who'd dumped the 'Reggie powerplants in favour of 'Cossie  (Cosworth) power - which left the Renault backed driver vulnerable, and Streiff decided to head back to his former team AGS for the '88 season, before sadly suffering his wicked testing accident at Rio de Janeiro in the spring of 1989... As reputedly the accident that would leave him paralyzed for life was so vicious that it tore his roll hoop completely off of the AGS JH23B chassis!

Yet the quote about Streiff that was of particular interest to me was Belgian Luc Costermans dedicating his then new speed record for a blind person in honour of the ex-Formula 1 Frenchman... As Costermans apparently then shattered Englishman Mike Newman's record aboard a "loaner" Lamborghini; CRIKEYS! As the 'Brit Newman had held the record at 167mph in a BMW M5 previously...

Yet Costermans's record didn't stand long, as the following year South African Hein Wagner upped Y's pace by becoming the first blind person to exceed 200mph; Aye Karumba!

Thus while Wagner currently holds the record, Costermans can take solace in becoming the first blind person to shatter the mythical 300kp/h record, whilst this has all come full circle as  the '09 article I found about Wagner's exploits mentions how Newman was then planning to attempt breaking the ultimate speed record of 257mph - whilst becoming the first triple record holder of land, air and  water speed records  which I found briefly mentioned in;

Thus, while I doubt I'll be able to find anybody willing to loan me their AMG 65, Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 ‘Squadra Corse or Ferrari 599GTB for Mwah to try emulating these fearless  blind persons pursuit of ultimate speed, nevertheless it does encourage me to try pushing thee envelope a 'Wee bit further! As who knows? May be after all I'll slip behind the wheel of a motor vehicle for the first time in  a Buh-zillion years shortly; Hmm? Anybody wanna loan me the keys to their 'LamborGenie; Hya!