"One Of The Things I Miss The Most Is Driving"

"One Of The Things I Miss The Most Is Driving"

Release Date: 22 July 2015
Martorell, 22/07/2015. – "My motto is: if it's difficult it's been done. If it's impossible it will be done". Truer words were never spoken by Javier del Hoyo, a man who lost his eyesight nearly 12 years ago, and who admits that since then "one of the things I miss the most is driving". A few days ago he had the chance to get behind the wheel again, and it was of a Leon X-PERIENCE. He was joined by 59 other people with the same impairment at Madrid's Jarama circuit, in a solidarity initiative hosted by SEAT, the ONCE organisation for the blind and the RACE motor club.

His instructor Alberto will be sitting next to him. They greet each other and Alberto invites him to "get ready for an unforgettable experience". Javier gets in the car. "I can hardly believe it – 12 years later and here I am again in the driver's seat, it's incredible". It's time to go over some concepts. Javier will be following Alberto's verbal instructions and clock-inspired indications with minutes so he will know how much and how hard to turn the steering wheel. For example, "o'clock" means straighten the wheel and drive straight.

The first few minutes are not easy. Javier has to get used to the instructor's indications and try to relax. For Alberto, driving blind is quite an accomplishment: "first thing this morning I drove around the track a few times wearing a blindfold and it was claustrophobic; it was so uncomfortable driving that way that I felt like tearing it off".

Javier gradually gets used to the feeling and begins to get more comfortable. He even takes a chance by stepping on the accelerator on the track's straightaway while shouting at the top of his lungs "I can feel the speed in my backbone!" He's obviously having a great time and the thousands of kilometres he drove before losing his eyesight come to his memory. "I drove all over the world, on all five continents", he remembers.

After two laps around the track, it's time to head back to the boxes. "You were amazing!", shouts Alberto with admiration. Javier is all smiles and would rather do it all over again than get out of the car. They exchange a warm hug while Javier jokes that now he would even dare to give it a try "with a helicopter". Our man of the hour leaves the track happy and grateful for the chance to drive again and assures that this "has been one of the best experiences in my life – a real dream come true".
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