A man who has been blind since he was 5 years old will drive an exhibition lap on Saturday, as part of the prerace activities for the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, January 29.
Mark Anthony Riccobono will get behind the wheel of a specially equipped Ford Escape hybrid that will allow him to drive the Florida race track.
"I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel and demonstrating to the world that being blind does not prevent me from engaging in any activity I choose as long as I am able to get the information I need. This will be a truly historic occasion for my blind brothers and sisters and for America, and I am humbled and proud to be part of it," Riccobono said.
Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, today said: "The sight of a blind individual driving a vehicle without assistance from a sighted person will shake the foundation of public misconceptions about blindness and blind people by showing that even tasks that are thought to require vision are possible if a blind person has access to information in a nonvisual way. Vision is not a requirement for success. Capacity, imagination, and determination are all that is needed, and blind people have all of these qualities."
Although not a lot of data was released regarding the car Riccobono will be driving, students at Virginia Tech have been working to create a nonvisual interface technology that allows a blind person to drive.