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Despite Blindness, Kauffman Goes at Life Full Throttle

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Greg Kauffman has not let lack of sight ruin his life.

Kauffman, 41, of Ventura, who was blinded at age 17 after falling from a 150-foot cliff while hiking, can drive and repair automobiles, among other things.

He is the owner and chief mechanic of the car that has won four consecutive track championships at Ventura Raceway in the Street Stock division.

And before his ill-fated fall, Kauffman owned four cars, having learned to drive at age 14. His involvement in racing began in 1984, 13 years after the accident.

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Before the stocks came drag racing, and the only reason Kauffman never drove the dragster on a racetrack, he says, was because his 6-foot-2, 270-pound frame precluded his fitting into the car.

These days, Kauffman goes to El Mirage dry lake with Jim Jewett, his friend of 15 years, and drives a dune buggy around for kicks.

According to Jewett, the pair have gone bowling together and have played softball--with Kauffman pitching.

“Once you get him dialed in to a position, he usually gets really consistent,” Jewett said.

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When the pair play horseshoes, Jewett taps the stake and Kauffman throws in the direction of the noise.

Jewett said the first time Kauffman tore apart an automatic transmission, it was the one from Jewett’s work truck.

“He started feeling the parts and told us what was needed,” Jewett said.

“We got the parts, he put it together, and it worked.”

Pony Stock driver Mira Cook of Camarillo said competing blindfolded against Kauffman has given her a new perspective on the man who started her racing career by bankrolling her first car.

“It has really made me appreciate Greg and what he does.”


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