Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi on how he’s able to race at Daytona

Enlarge / Zanardi in the paddock. He is almost as fast in this chair as he is in the race car—I’m surprised he hasn’t been given a penalty for speeding in the pit lane! (credit: Elle Cayabyab Gitlin) Although we usually cover our own travel arrangements, in this case Rolex flew me to Orlando and provided two nights in a hotel in Daytona Beach.

One of the biggest buzzes at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona was the presence of one Alex Zanardi, racing in one of the two BMW M8 GTEs. Racing fans will remember Zanardi from his time in single seaters. There was a spell in F1 with the Williams team, but he’s primarily known by the racing crowd as a double champion in the open-wheel CART series (in 1997 and 1998). In 2001, after returning to CART, he lost both his legs in a horrific crash at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001. Other sports fans may well know him for his post-crash success in handcycling; he’s won multiple marathons (Venice, 2009, Rome, 2010, New York, 2011) as well as gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics.
Oh, and he’s kept driving, too. First in the World Touring Car Championship from 2004-2009, with wins in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009, then more recently in the Blancpain Sprint Series in 2014, all with BMW. But this year’s Rolex 24 saw him added to BMW’s roster for the #24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE, where he was just one of the car’s four drivers (the other three of whom were all able-bodied).
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Source: Car news one

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