Blind Race Car Driver Motivates Central Mass. Students

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Jay Blake, a blind drag-car racer, speaks at Westborough's Porter and Chester Institute on Tuesday. He stands in front of his team's NHRA race car, which can reach 260 mph in 5.5 seconds. Photo Credit: Rick Sobey

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – How often do the words “blind” and “drag-car racer” come together? That happened Tuesday night at Westborough’s Porter and Chester Institute, as Central Massachusetts students listened to an individual who inspires people every single second.

Jay Blake, a blind drag-car racer, gave the students a motivational speech at the postsecondary school’s career day Jan. 8.

“Believe in yourself, don’t give up and follow your dreams,” he said. “Remember, do not let your fears stop you. Let your dreams drive you. Your positive attitude – let that energy move your forward. Build on those basic skills and always stay open to education.

“Your passion will keep your dreams alive,” he added. “Your determination will keep your dreams in focus. Your ability to work as a team member will give you the ability to reach your goals and your dreams.”     

Blake, 46, suffered an industrial accident that resulted in his blindness while serving as the head mechanic for a transportation company in 1997.

“I wasn’t going to let the blindness stop me,” he said. “I had to show everybody that even though I couldn’t see, I could still do.”

And do is exactly what he did. While enrolled in an intensive rehabilitation program, Blake began to follow his dream of owning a professional auto racing team. He now leads his team of racing professionals in National Hot Rod Association competition, where it finished the 2010 and 2011 seasons ranked seventh in the national standings.

This year, Blake hopes to set a world record as the first blind man to drive a car at more than 200 mph.

“I’m putting a much stronger push toward that goal this year,” he said. “We’re looking for funding, though, to get to that goal.”

To donate to Follow A Dream, Blake’s nonprofit organization, visit its website.

Blake was accompanied by his racing team and his NHRA-approved race car at the Westborough event.

During the career day, residents got resume writing and interview tips while learning more about the Porter and Chester programs.

Porter and Chester Institute Inc. is a postsecondary institution with more than 65 years of providing career training in skilled trades, automotive, computers and health-care professions. Founded in Connecticut in 1946, the institute trains more than 3,000 students annually on nine campuses in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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