All Interested people – especially if you are blind or Partially Sighted :
Bonita Blankenberg started off blind navigating when she was 19 – and just for fun. Today at 30, she is the reigning Regularity Rallying Blind Navigator Champion. As a youngster, she did not have a particular interest in motorsport, and being blind, did not think she would ever get involved in it. But since the bug bit in her final year as a teenager, she’s become a motorsport and rallying enthusiast and now also South Africa’s top blind navigator.
When her previous driver decided to emigrate in 2010, she hooked up with Jerry Paice, an experienced driver who was looking for a blind navigator.
He’d been involved in blind navigator rallies since 1985. “I still have to remind myself that we won the 2011 championship,” says Bonita, “it was a great feeling, especially since I had to work very hard to win it.” “For me, rallying was always just for fun, so I t took quite a mind-shift to look at it from a competitive angle.”
A resident of Vorna valley, Midrand, she has taken part in the Total Economy Run and really enjoyed this experience. Apart from rallying, she enjoys singing and has even written a few short stories.
Bonita has a journalism degree and her “day job” is at Nestle. According to Jerry, she is an excellent pillion passenger on a motor cycle (she was pillion with Jerry on the annual m/cycle Econorun), a great karaoke singer (who can do Celine Dion better than anyone) and is bound to get one of her stories published someday.
To calm her pre-race jitters, Bonita has lots of coffee and a laugh with the other navigators.
While she says blind navigators do get “a bit highly strung at times”, they tend to be too busy rallying “to allow tempers to flare.”
Asked if she is bugged by the fact that this type of rallying is not as glamorous as special stage rallying, Bonita has this to say: “Well, I think glamour isn’t really what we’re looking for. Those of us who are doing the sport are enjoying it because it is competitive on an equal level. We have the opportunity to be participants.”
Asked about her advice to blind children/teenagers/adults who enjoy motorsport and want to get involved, she says: “I would say get involved with the blind navigators’ club and start rallying. The more you do it, the better you’ll become. Besides, you’ll also get to know other people
and experience new things.”
(Bonita also won the championship in 2012 and 2013)
NB1 : Partially Sighted individuals can also take part in these rallies – the route schedule is in large print (Verdana 24).
NB2 : Drivers for the Blind Navigators in rallies are also needed – these rallies are only on tar roads, at normal driving speeds. Accurate driving is the key.