INDIANAPOLIS GRAND PRIX - Mario Andretti and Sam Schmidt "Race" at IMS.

Sam Schmidt leads Mario Andretti into turn seven on the IMS road course. ©RIS/Larry Clarino

INDIANAPOLIS - RIS - May13, 2017 - Sam Schmidt and some guy named Mario Andretti had a four lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Why is this surprising? It wasn’t the fact that an Andretti actually won a race at IMS, something that has only happened once in history. It was the amazing technology that allowed the race to happen at all.

IndyCar owner Sam Schmidt, who was badly injured in a 2000 Indy car testing accident at the Walt Disney World Speedway, that left the driver a quadriplegic, with technology developed by team sponsor Arrow, now has the ability to drive a car again. Using a sensor system headset, on-board cameras, that control steering, and another system that uses a tube that is blown into for throttle control, that all mate with the cars onboard dynamic controls, gives Sam not only a way to drive but a way to drive...FAST!  

Sam challenged Mario Andretti to a four lap race in identical Chevy Corvette cars, yes Mario was required to learn how to drive using head position, and breath to control the gas. After a little practice speeds upwards of 140 MPH were attained by both drivers.

Before the race, Andretti said, “This was the hardest car I have ever driven. The concentration needed was like nothing I have done. I keep looking at my rear view mirror and then I was headed toward the wall.”  

Sam, with a lot of experience in the car just smiled. “I can’t tell you how great it was to drive this thing the first time. It proves we can do anything we set our minds to.” Last June Sam drove the same car up the Pike’s Peak road to the top of the 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado.

While it really didn’t matter who won, the crowd cheered the two friends on the Speedway road course. Really an inspiring moment at the World’s Greatest Raceway.

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Volume 2017, Issue 5, Posted 2:17 PM, 05.13.2017