Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 15:19 UK

Blind man drives racing car again

Kevin Keane
Fife reporter
BBC Scotland news website

Ben Shaw in the Ferrari

An amateur rally-driver who was blinded while serving as a soldier in Iraq is finally getting back behind the wheel.

Ben-Jack Shaw, who lives in Edinburgh, will drive a Ferrari around Knockhill Race Track in Fife in front of a crowd of motor-racing fans.

He has had several practice sessions in less powerful vehicles before he is let loose at full speed in the sport car.

A co-driver sitting with him will instruct Ben on how far to turn the steering wheel to stay on course.

Ben was on routine patrol in Iraq when shrapnel from a roadside bomb was blown into his eyes. He lost all sight.

One of his main ambitions since the accident has been to drive a car again.

He said: "I'm over the moon. I would have been happy just driving any sort of car again but a Ferrari F360 is even better."

After a practice session, he said: "It's just the same as when I used to drive before, it still gives me the same thrill, even though obviously I can't see the track. It's still amazing."

'Tremendous boost'

His ambition has been made possible by the organisation Scottish War Blinded which has been helping Ben to rebuild his life.

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Ben-Jack Shaw practises his racing skills

They approached the staff at Knockhill who said it definitely would be possible.

Senior driving instructor Graham Brunton said: "We're working on his right hand being at three o'clock so when I say 'right hand to four or five o'clock, he responds.

"It seems to be working. As long as he does exactly as I ask, there's no reason at all why he can't make a half reasonable job of driving a Ferrari round the race track."

Les Meikle, of Scottish War Blinded, told the BBC Scotland news website: "It's of benefit to Ben because he's obviously, like a lot of young men, interested in motor sport and fast cars and I think the opportunity this is giving him is a tremendous boost to him."

Ben has another major event taking place on the same weekend. He will marry his fiancee Louisa and has been put under strict instructions not to crash.


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