15 Years Ago: Alex Zanardi Makes The Pass

9/15/11 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

As those that know me know well, I am a huge IndyCar fan. Borderline obsessed really. Given IndyCar's position in the sporting universe, this is probably considered an odd choice for a 20 something not from Indiana. I had been watching the sport for almost two years when the now defunct CART series held its final race of the year at Laguna Seca in Monterrey, California September 8, 1996. On the final lap, Bryan Herta was trying to hold off the Italian rookie Alex Zanardi. As they came to Laguna Seca's most famous turn, The Corkscrew, Zanardi made what open wheel fans quickly dubbed The Pass. (If you're impatient, fast forward to the 4 minute mark.)

The move was unlike anything I've ever seen, and at that moment, IndyCar racing became a part of me forever. Zanardi also became my favorite driver ever, especially once this became a springboard for a two year reign of dominance in the CART series, prompting a move to Formula One.

Obviously, my dumbass missed the actual 15 year anniversary of The Pass by a week. However, today is another important anniversary in Zanardi's life. Unfortunately, it's not a happy one. 10 years ago today during a race in Germany, Zanardi, now back in the CART series, was involved in this horrific crash. Somehow, he lived, but both his legs were sheared clean off. This SI story tells the account of Zanardi's amazing recovery. A few years, Zanardi was back racing, this time in the World Touring Car Championship. In five years of WTCC action, Zanardi won four times. He's now attempting to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in hand cycling, as chronicled in this story. I wouldn't bet against him.

Alex Zanardi first dazzled me with his skill, then inspired me, and countless fans around the world, with his tenacity and never give-up attitude after his crash. He's my all-time favorite driver, and with these anniversaries, one triumphant, one that started tragic, but became triumphant, I felt I had to share what he did that day 15 years ago. It remains the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a race car.
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

9/16/11   |   Murphy24   |   278 respect

Really cool story and great video! Somehow I've never seen or heard of this before. I can only imagine the rush that must have been for the young zanardi.