Blind Driver Gets To Drive Around Top Gear’s Test Track
We can all stand to learn from this man’s story of courage and perseveranceby Kirby, on
The story of Amit Patel is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking. But between those two emotions, there’s also a story of courage and resilience from a man who lost his sight in 2013. With the help of Toyota and Top Gear, Patel was able to take a lap around the Top Gear race track in a specially prepared Toyota GT-86. With the help of an instructor, Patel was able to successfully lap the famous track in 1:46, a time that would’ve made him the fastest person to lap the track when you compare his lap time to all the celebrities who raced around the track in a Suzuki Llana. Sure, the car is different, but so is Patel’s circumstance. If you woke up feeling down in the dumps today, this is the video that you should watch.
The struggles of blind people are well-documented, but if there’s anything we can take out of the story of Dr. Amit Patel, it’s that blindness, though a handicap, is never an excuse to stop living life. A brief backstory: Patel was diagnosed with keratoconus in his final year of medical school. Keratoconus is a condition that changes the shape of the cornea. Patel underwent six cornea transplants to fix the condition, but all were rejected by his body. A series of burst blood vessels soon happened, and just like that, Patel lost his ability to see. That happened in 2013.
Six years later, Patel has come a long way as a blind man.
While he still clings to the hope of one day seeing again, Patel has come to grips with his new reality, embracing it with the courage that I can only dream of having.
Naturally, his story found its way to Toyota, and the Japanese automaker responded by offering Patel a chance to drive the GT-86 around the Top Gear test track with an instructor by his side.
The mere notion of a blind man driving a 200-horsepower sports car around a race track is dangerous enough on the surface. But there’s nothing ordinary about Patel, his circumstances, and the attitude he has taken since losing his sight six years. This dude is an inspiration, especially when you consider that he hasn’t driven a car since losing his sight six years ago.
As soon he got dressed up for the drive, Patel understood that he wasn’t going on a Sunday drive to the grocery store.
He was driving the GT-86 in arguably one of the U.K.’s most famous race tracks.
The first few runs ended about as well as you could predict. Patel struggled taking control of the car, never mind the fact that he couldn’t see where he was going. But once he got his bearings, Patel and his instructor were in sync the whole day. A number of completed laps later, and the man who lost his sight unexpectedly clocked in a fastest lap of 1:46. That’s impressive for anyone, let alone one who can’t see anything.
As impressive as his fastest lap was, the real takeaway here isn’t that he set that kind of lap time. It was the feeling of being able to drive again, even if it’s under totally different circumstances. In intimate detail, Patel was able to describe the feeling being one with the car in ways that not a lot of us get to appreciate. He may have lost his sight, but he could hear the engine roar and feel the road in ways that none of us could ever begin to imagine. He described the feeling as if he was floating, something that many of us can only dream of feeling inside a sports car.
Even with his handicap, Patel never submitted to the fear of not being able to do what other people could.
Ultimately, he proved as much by taking the Toyota GT-86 and conquering the Top Gear race track. We’re not used to getting misty-eyed around here, but we couldn’t help but well up after watching Patel drive the GT-86 like a seasoned pro. At the very least, his story is a clear reminder to all of us that even if life throws curveballs at us, there’s no reason for us not to swing for the fences and smash those balls out of the park.
You’re an inspiration, sir.
Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota 86.