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Blind race car driver receives OBE from the King

Co-founder of the Speed Of Sight charity and one of the world’s fastest blind men, Mike Newman, has been honoured with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) Medal in the King’s New Year’s Honours List for services to people with disabilities. 

Bolton-based, Mike, who was born blind due to glaucoma, was always a car enthusiast and dreamt of driving, but, due to his disability, was restricted from achieving that goal. Now however, he is a race car driver and multiple world record holder, who has enormous knowledge about all things automotive.

Just over 20 years ago, while he was working as a bank manager, he decided to finally fulfil his dream, and set the motorcycle speed record in 2001 at 89 mph on an Aprilia superbike. This was just the beginning for Mike, as he went on to achieve the car land speed record in 2003 at 144 mph in a Jaguar XJR. He then set three more world records of 176 mph in 2005 in a BMW M5, 186 mph in 2013 in a Porsche GT2 and 200 mph in 2014 in a Nissan GTR, making Mike Newman the first blind man on earth to drive a car at 200 mph. 

After his first land speed record, he started to meet people who used to be able to drive, but had developed disabilities, which meant they were unable to continue and really missed doing so, so that’s what inspired Mike to start Speed Of Sight. 

Speed Of Sight is run by Mike and his co-founder John Galloway, and hosts track days during which, as the team is trained to help everyone in and out of the specially designed and built vehicles,  participants of all ages and with any form of disability, can enjoy the excitement and thrill of driving.  

The vehicles – two racing cars and two all-terrain buggies – named after Mike’s guide dogs, are specially designed with dual controls and twin steering wheels and the buggies are equipped with hand controls. 

The charity has now been hosting track days for 10 years, in which time it has changed hundreds of lives in the nearly 100 track days it has put on in its tenure. 

Mike Newman said:

“I was in shock when I received the call letting me know that someone had nominated me and that I had received this medal. It’s such an honour and I’m incredibly humbled and grateful, but I wouldn’t be able to do any of this work without the staff and volunteers that help us at our Speed Of Sight track days that enable us to change people’s lives. This medal is certainly dedicated to the Speed Of Sight family – thank you for supporting my dreams and the dreams of others. 

“While I always wanted this charity to succeed when I created it with my co-founder John, I’m stunned at just how successful it’s been over the 10 years we’ve been running, and how much joy it’s brought to so many lives. It’s not just the participants that are grinning at our track days because they’ve finally got the opportunity to drive a car, it’s the friends and family they bring with them, the companies that sponsor us and the volunteers, without whom we wouldn’t be able to do these track days.”