Once in a while we come across one of those stories that not only brings tears to our eyes, but it also provides motivation and inspiration to achieve great things.
Many of you may recall the ’90s Formula 1 pilot Alex Zanardi. Born in Italy, Zanardi won two CART championship titles in North America during the late 1990s, but prior to that he ran as an F1 driver for teams like Jordan, Minardi and Lotus. After the success in CART, Sir Frank Williams signed Zanardi for a three-year contract in July 1998 and he began testing alongside test-driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
In 2000, Zanardi made a comeback to CART and signed for Mo Nunn. Fast forward to 2001 when a tragic accident changed his life. Zanardi suffered a violent crash at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on September 15 when Canadian driver Alex Tagliani, racing at close to 200 mph, ran into Zanardi’s car who was cleared to get back on track after the car spun out of control.
The reinforced carbon fiber cone of Tagliani’s car sliced through the area beside Zanardi’s left front wheel and cockpit, and severed Zanardi’s right and left leg.
Zanardi was fitted with two prosthetic limbs and began an ambitious rehabilitation program, and this week, the 45-year old Italian won the Paralympic gold medal Wednesday in paracycling, a hand cycle powered by the arms.
“This is a great accomplishment, one of the greatest of my life,” Zanardi said of his victory.
From 2005 through 2009, the Italian driver ran in the WTCC series with a BMW 320si before shifting his focus to handcycling.
Here is to great men!