25 May 2013
Alex Zanardi: Indy 500 bid could still happen
He's a two-time CART champion and a Paralympics gold medalist, but Alex Zanardi isn't ruling out making a rookie bid at the Indy 500 in the future.
One of the surprising details about Alex Zanardi's career - in among all the success he had in CART, F1, WTCC and most recently in the London Paralympics 2012 - is that he's never had a chance of racing in the Indianapolis 500.
"We never had him in a race car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," admitted team owner Chip Ganassi when talking about his biggest regrets in the sport. "It was one of those things that the timing or the political climate, it wasn't to be," he added, alluding to the CART/Indy Racing League split of the time. "The only lap I did here was I paid $1 and had the bus ride with all the tourists!"
There had been talk that Zanardi - who lost both of his legs in a horrific Champ Car World Series crash in September 2001 at Lausitz, Germany - might compete in this year's Indy 500 in a specially adapted car utilising hand controls in place of foot pedals, but that didn't come to fruition - this year, at least. Despite now being 46, the Italian hasn't given up hopes of making his Indy bow sometime in the future.
"At my age what you no longer have is the capability, the right focus throughout the season as when you are in your 20s. But if it is for one event then it would be a different deal," he said, speaking at a special event in his honour at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.
"This would not be easy to organize but I am still very passionate about the sport,"" insisted Zanardi. "I still have the capability to steer the wheel and if down the road the right opportunity would arise it would be hard not to be curious about it and look at it."
"As we get older we would all like to make things happen in our lives that may or may not happen but you never know," Ganassi said about the possibility of Zanardi running in the Indy 500 in the future. "But he has a friend with a team that always has a car for him."
"It'd be fantastic," agreed Zanardi. "But it would also be fantastic to kiss Charlize Theron, and this will never happen in my life!" he laughed.
Zanardi was speaking at a special presentation at IMS in which he was presented with the Reynard 96I/Honda car in which he won at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca in September 1996 during his rookie season in the series. IN the course of winning the race he passed Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew in what's still referred to among IndyCar fans as 'The Move.'
"Laguna Seca in 1996, of all the highlights of my racing career, was probably the most emotional one and the one that actually changed my life," said Zanardi on Friday. "I was very lucky that day, don't get me wrong, but had I not tried that move, who knows what my racing career would have been?
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