The courage of Italy’s Alessandro Zanardi in returning to motor racing after losing both legs in a horrific crash has won him nomination for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award for two years running.
Zanardi, who had driven in Formula One with the Williams team, had switched to CART racing and his accident in the European Memorial CART race in Lausitz in Germany was one of the worst ever seen. His car spun coming out of the pits and it was hit by another coming down the straight at 200mph.
Zanardi, 38, returned to motor racing in October 2003, finishing seventh in the European Touring Car Championship race at Monza. In 2004 he completed a full season in the championship, racing at speeds of up to 240kmh and has already signed to race again in 2005. He drives a specially adapted BMW in which the throttle is mounted on the upper part of the steering wheel, the brake pedal has been shaped to prevent the drivers’ artificial limb from losing the grip and the clutch is actuated through a button on the gear lever.
Dr. Claudio Costa, who has overseen his rehabilitation since the accident, says: “Alessandro Zanardi is letting all the people in his condition know what they can do. His example sends a message to humanity."