When Randy Wiebe was told he would never get a driver’s licence, he knew that wouldn’t keep him from driving.
Being legally blind has stopped him from driving on public streets, but he has spent the past few decades ripping around Western Speedway racing in the demolition derby.
When it comes to driving, Wiebe’s jokes: “I drive by braille, if I hit something I just steer the other way.”
The first time he ever drove a car was at the speedway in a demo derby race.
“I was 18 and I was scared as hell,” Wiebe said. “I lasted a lap and a half and then the car spun out and that was that, but I was hooked.”
While his father was never too fond of Wiebe’s passion for speed and destruction, he did get encouragement at home.
“My mom was supportive. I could hear her yelling from the stands when I was on the track,” the driver remembers with a huge grin. “That was the coolest thing ever.”
Being blind doesn’t mean Wiebe is left fully in the dark, but he does have limitations.
“I see at 20 feet what normal people see at 200 feet,” said Wiebe, who was born with the condition.
As he’s never had regular vision, it’s difficult for him to describe how he sees the world. However, his doctor explained that it would be akin to “someone who spins around 20 times fast and then tries to focus on a clock.”
After every race, his car does get more and banged up. But, after many years, Wiebe has only ever had minor injuries, including broken ribs and broken thumbs.
“I have never had a car fire, but I do wear a two-layer fire-proof suit,” Wiebe said. “The suit gives you an extra 30 seconds in a fire. It doesn’t sound long, but when you are in a fire that’s a long time.”
Now at 50, Wiebe thinks it time to get out of the driver’s seat, but he’ll never give up on his passion for cars.
“Oh God, I could quit smoking easier than I could quit racing,” said Wiebe looking at his cigarettes on the table. “The body just doesn’t handle it as it used to.”
Instead of driving in the demolition derby, he’s bought a boomer car and found a driver for it. It took Wiebe a year to transform the 1981 Camero into a boomer car. Wiebe oversees the crew in the pit on race nights. Boomer races are always held on the same night as demolition derby.
“Some people do drugs to get high, I race cars to get high, it’s such a rush,” Wiebe said.
A speedway of opportunity
Randy Wiebe moved to Langford in 1967. He experienced his first car race at Western Speedway and knew at the ripe age of five, that he too, would drive race cars.
When he wasn’t watching cars at the track, he was at home playing with toy cars.
While he’s legally blind, he can see the races but, when the cars go towards the back stretch, it gets a bit tougher for him to see what’s going on. He always brings binoculars with him to the track.
“I see kids come in the pit after the races looking to get autographs, I see myself doing that 45 years ago,” Wiebe said.
He’s been blind since birth and has never let it stop him from from anything he’s wanted to do.
“Don’t let it slow you down, everything is possible,” Wiebe said. “I have never taken the easy way out, I have always had a job. I have nothing to complain about.”
Over the years, Wiebe has earned more than 40 trophies, the last trophy he won was in September 2010.