Weather Updates

Alex Zanardi: From pedal to medal



storyidforme: 36482432
tmspicid: 13305554
fileheaderid: 6131006

Updated: October 7, 2012 8:05AM

A lex Zanardi just loves to race. But what he really likes to do is win.

The two-time CART champion and ex-Formula One driver took the Paralympic gold medal Wednesday in paracycling — a hand cycle powered by the arms. The win capped an incredible journey for the 45-year-old who almost died in an accident at a CART race in Germany.On Sept. 15, 2001, Zanardi was leading the American Memorial 500 when he came in for his final pit stop. As he left pit road, Zanardi’s car spun and slid onto the track into the path of driver

Alex Tagliani .

Traveling at close to 200 mph, Tagliani’s car struck the nose cone of Zanardi’s machine. The crash severed Zanardi’s right leg at the knee and his left leg five inches above the knee. He lost 70 percent of his blood, his pelvis was fractured in five places and he had a lacerated liver. Zanardi lapsed into a coma for three days, and his heart stopped at least once.

Within months, Zanardi learned to walk with ­prostheses. Two years later, he began racing ­specially modified touring cars. 

Zanardi took up paracycling to stay in shape. By 2011, he won the New York City Marathon in the paracycling division.

Zanardi said ex-CART teammate Jimmy Vasser promised him a car for the Indianapolis 500 if he won the gold.


© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.