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Alex Zanardi: Indy 500 bid could still happen

"For sure, it changed a lot of things," he continued. "The perception of all the people watching was that, after that day, I was a different guy, I was definitely a guy to keep an eye on. I'm sure I won a lot of fans that day and caused come controversy, as well. But, hey, this is what keeps us alive, and I was definitely alive that day."

And although Zanardi was clearly excited and rather moved by the reception he received in Indianapolis this week, he admitted that the Indy 500 hadn't been a childhood dream for him in the way that it had been for so many other motor sport drivers down the years.

"I cannot say it was a dream of my childhood because my dream was to drive a red car at Imola and pass Jody Scheckter on the last corner on the last lap," he admitted of his ambition to be a Ferrari driver racing in an F1 Grand Prix. It wasn't a Ferrari in the end, but he did get to race for Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams in his time in the world championship.

Yet all these years later, the red car with the really special place in his heart turned out to be the Reynard 96I/Honda on which he and Chip Ganassi sat on Friday morning.

"It didn't look exactly the same as the one I was dreaming of as a little kid but it was as beautiful and as joyful for me to drive it and I had my last lap pass, although it was not Imola it was Laguna Seca," he said. "I had my great relationship not with Enzo Ferrari but with a friend named Chip Ganassi who changed my life," he insisted, adding: "My dream came true.

"It is really difficult to put it into words," said Zanardi. "I'm lucky enough to have had a long career, a career with many highlights, along with the two championships we won with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. which were, for sure, amazing accomplishments."

Chip Ganassi handed over the car on the famous yard of bricks that runs across the start/finish line at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

"Nothing that Alex Zanardi has done has surprised anybody, from Laguna Seca to two Paralympic gold medals. There is no one like Alex," said Ganassi. "The mold was broken when Alex Zanardi was born.

"In Alex you see a guy who transcends all the issues of the day when we were racing in the mid-'90s," Ganassi continued. "It was a breath of fresh air to see somebody who transcends all that and is all about racing.

"He's had some real accomplishments since he has not been in racing," he added. "Don't forget, you're talking about an Olympian here, and that's pretty heavy stuff. To be at the top of one sport and to go and be at the top of another - enough said. Only someone with his fortitude could accomplish that."




Related Pictures

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In a special presentation on the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 25 2013, team owner Chip Ganassi presents Alex Zanardi with the Reynard 96I/Honda car in which he won at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca in September 1996. (Photo Credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
In a special presentation on the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 25 2013, team owner Chip Ganassi presents Alex Zanardi with the Reynard 96I/Honda car in which he won at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca in September 1996. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
In a special presentation on the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 25 2013, team owner Chip Ganassi presents Alex Zanardi with the Reynard 96I/Honda car in which he won at Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca in September 1996. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V-6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon lead the field into Turn 1 during the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon enters Turn 3 during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon navigates the fountain turn complex during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The confetti flies in Victory Lane for Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates in Victory Lane following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon drinks the champagne following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon drinks the champagne following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden in his pit stand. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden apexes the hairpin turn during qualifications for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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