I first heard about this on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain last week, who had Zorro on the telephone as his “Last Call.” As the diminutive Italian ceases to amaze me!
Almost everybody knows about the horrific accident Alex Zanardi was involved in at the Lausitzring on Sept. 15, 2001, when he lost both of his legs in a devastating crash. Yet Zanardi has refused to give up, rehabilitating himself to walk once again with the use of prosthetic legs.
Not only is Zanardi walking again, but he’s since returned to racing full time in the FIA World Touring Car Championship as well as winning races aboard his BMW 320i.
Last November, Zanardi became the first double amputee to ever test drive a Formula One car, running a modified BMW-Sauber C24-B at the Cheste racetrack near Valencia, Spain. Upon being congratulated of his historic accomplishment by BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal Dr. Mario Theisan, Zanardi replied: “Congratulations, you’re the first crazy person to let somebody with NO legs drive a Formula 1 car!”
Zanardi was calling Despain from New York where he’d just accomplished another amazing feat! What had originally started as a joke with his long time sponsor Barilla, saw the 40 year old once again amaze. As Zanardi had just finished 4th in the New York Marathon’s Hand Bike division…
Even more impressive was the fact that this had all began as a lark, as the Pasta Company had been keen to get Zanardi involved with their sponsoring of the Marathon. Zanardi said; “Sure, as long as I don’t have to pick up the check for 16,000 dinners…”
While Zanardi hadn’t even planned on competing, nor had he did any training prior to receiving his bike one month before the event. When he’d been told it would be impossible, the Italian was determined to give it a try!
For David Phillips story of Zanardi’s amazing exploit; See: Zanardi Amazes... Again