Once a member of the INDYCAR world, always a member of the INDYCAR world.
INDYCAR owners, athletes and legends have joined fans from around the world in supporting Alex Zanardi as the two-time CART champion fights to recover from serious injuries sustained in a collision with a heavy vehicle while competing in a paralympic hand-cycling event Friday in his native Italy.
Zanardi, 53, became a popular figure among racing fans for his aggressive driving style and celebratory donuts after his CART victories. He won the second and third of Chip Ganassi Racing’s four consecutive CART titles in 1997 and 1998 and returned to CART in 2001 following a stint in Formula One.
But it was after he lost both of his legs to a crash during the 2001 CART race at the Lausitzring in Germany and his recovery from those injuries and his re-introduction to sporting world in the Paralympics where he continued to show his indominiable fighting spirit. The Italian won hand-cycling gold medals in both 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games and has competed in both the Ironman World Championships and New York City Marathon.
He also returned to auto racing in Europe’s DTM in 2018 and IMSA’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2019, competing in race cars specially modified with hand controls.
Among those sending messages of support for Zanardi were racing legend Mario Andretti, Zanardi’s former INDYCAR boss Chip Ganassi, his CGR teammate Jimmy Vasser, CART racing rivals Dario Franchiitti, Bryan Herta and Max Papis (who considers Zanardi as his best friend) and current NTT INDYCAR SERIES competitors Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Sage Karam and Zach Veach.
Some of their messages are below:
I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I'm holding my breath. I am his fan. I am his friend. Please do what I'm doing and pray pray for for this wonderful man. https://t.co/P8XPVymmKg
My thoughts are with Alex Zanardi tonight. He has defied the odds his whole life, always done the seemingly impossible. When we raced against each other I realised there was never a point in any race that in his mind he was beaten.
I’m praying for another Zanardi miracle 💪🏼💔
Praying for Alex Zanardi! Be strong as you always are!