The Incredible Story of Alex Zanardi Gets Better With Paralympic Gold
Fitting for the ex-CART champion and F1 driver, the handcycling competition was held at the Brands Hatch race track. Also fitting for a race, Zanardi dominated the event, winning by 27 seconds.
11 years ago at Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany, Zanardi pitted from the lead, but lost control on his way out. The car of Alex Tagliani had no where to go and slammed into Zanardi at 200 mph. You can find the accident on YouTube if you're not squeamish. Zanardi was in a coma for three days, the remnants of his legs disintegrated on the track. He lost 70 percent of his blood. The fact that he survived the accident at all, even with the loss of his legs, is a miracle in and of itself.
However, the story didn't end there. Two years later, Zanardi returned to Lausitz to complete the 13 laps he didn't finish that fateful day. Driving a car specialized with hand controls, Zanardi was so fast he would've started 5th that day. From there, his racing career continued a year later in touring cars, where he won 4 races in 5 seasons. In recent years though, Zanardi concentrated on handcycling. He finished 4th in his first New York City Marathon in 2007. That's despite only training for a few weeks. This past year, he won the NYC Marathon for the first time. His original goal was just to make the Italian Paralympic team. Now he's got a gold medal, and he could win two more in the road race and relay later this week.
The only question now is where will this incredible journey go next, and the answer could very well be back to IndyCar racing. Zanardi has recently expressed interest in competing in the Indianapolis 500, something he never got to do because of the Open Wheel Split. Today it came out that Zanardi's former car owner, Chip Ganassi, and former teammate, Jimmy Vasser, are discussing fielding a car for Zanardi for next year's Indy 500.
it's not a guarantee that the Zanardi journey will continue at the Indy 500, but what is a guarantee is that he will continue to prove that what happened 11 years ago doesn't define him, and that Alex Zanardi will continue to be an inspiration and admired figure in the motor racing world, and if there's any justice, the entire world of sports.