Q&A: Billy Baxter and a blind lap of Donington

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Blind landspeed record holder Billy Baxter took to a Ducati 695 last weekend at the Bennetts British Superbike round at Donington Park to complete the first blind lap of the Leicestershire circuit.

MCN caught up with Billy after he’d completed his feat to see how it went, what’s next in store and why he’s so obsessed with the motorcycle.

MCN: How does it feel to have completed a blind lap of Donington?
BB: I’m still on such a massive high. Riding round here has been unbelievable, and the reaction from the crowd has been great. I think it became easier with the added pressure of doing it today. I’ve struggled a little in practice, but with all the excitement of being here and with the fans I just went round and enjoyed it.

MCN: Can you describe to us what it’s like trying to lap round a race circuit completely blind?
BB: I don’t really have to do much; 90 per cent of it is down to the out rider. I have complete faith in my out riders. If there is the slightest imperfection in his voice when he’s talking to me out there it can be the difference between staying on and falling off - we’ve been training for about a year to do something like this. I just have to listen, keep feathering the back brake and try to keep my momentum going.

MCN: You said you’ve struggled in practice. Anything serious?
BB: I came off the track on Monday and dislocated my shoulder. The doctor told me I shouldn’t really have done this today and that I should rest, but I don’t fight the bike so I’ve held up quite well.

MCN: So what sort of training have you had to do for this?
BB: We’ve done a lot of psychological training – it’s all about team building. But I’ve never seen Donington so it’s not like I can remember turns from when I had my sight. But now I know every single corner – I’ve done about 24 laps round here solo in practice.

MCN: You always seem to be involved with bikes – why is it that makes motorcycling special for you?
BB: I love motorcycles; they’re my eyes. When I’m on a bike I’m not blind anymore. And the general public really don’t get bikers – they are always willing to donate to good charities and have such big hearts.

MCN: So what’s next for you Billy?
BB: I want to break my landspeed record again, but I also want to do 200mph on a motorcycle. I won’t be able to do that in the UK so we’re planning to go out to Utah to give it a shot. I’d also like to make Jeremy Clarkson scream again like I did when I was on Top Gear with him in the passenger seat and me with the foot to the floor going through the Follow Through on their test track. I also have an ambition to do a lap of every race circuit in the UK, so you haven’t seen the last of me yet.

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Rob Hull

By Rob Hull