A blind father drove for the first time in his life behind the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT R.
He didn’t use any fancy sensors to the seeing for him. All he had was his son to direct him and a near-endless desert to drive in.
Bart Hickey has been blind since birth. That didn’t stop him from falling in love with cars and engines, however. For the last 30 years, Hickey has been the owner and operator of Bart's Automotive & Towing. He doesn’t do much towing, but he does get his hands dirty by repairing cars that enter his garage.
Not being able to see isn’t much of a hindrance for Bart; he can tell what’s wrong just by listening and navigate to the trouble spot to fix it entirely by feel. He’s done basically everything one can do inside or out of a car with one exception.
He’s never driven one.
Number one on Hickey’s bucket list has been to actually drive a car. So Hickey’s son, Brendan, wrote to Mercedes and arranged a very special day for his dad.
In a letter written in brail, Mercedes wrote back to Bart to tell him they’d arranged for him and his son to be driven out to Alvord Lake, Oregon--a seasonal shallow lake that is bone dry for several months of the year--and gave him a car to drive around in.
And it was a Mercedes-AMG GT R. Because if you’re going to only drive one car in your life, it might as well be a GT R.
Going from zero to 577 horsepower is quite a jump, and we can’t blame Bart for not hammering the throttle just as soon as the Mercedes representative got out of the car. Although the GT R is capable of speeds in excess of 190 mph (on pavement), Bart managed to get up to 124 mph with the help of his son as navigator.
Bart had no trouble operating the car’s 7-speed dual-clutch or selectable drive modes. He couldn’t see what was in front of him, but when it was mostly just dust and sand, that hardly mattered.