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After his gold medal triumph in the Paralympics yesterday moves are afoot for Alex Zanardi to make a return to top-flight single-seater racing by competing in the Indianapolis 500 next year.
Zanardi had raised the possibility of such a move in the build-up to yesterday’s race.
Both Jimmy Vasser and Chip Ganassi are looking into running a car for him according to this report on Speed:
Zanardi has already raced with hand controls in the World Touring Car Championship, scoring four wins, the first of which came at Oschersleben in 2005:
I wonder how the hand controls are made. Obviously it would be easy if you only wanted 0 or 100% throttle, you could just have a button, but that’s not how it works. Any ideas?
Hand throttle would work the same way as a hand clutch and would allow sensitivity and gradual operation between 0 and 100%. Indycars now have hand clutch and paddleshifts as well, so it would be a matter of another paddle on the steering wheel. As for the brake, Alex can operate the brake pedal using his prosthetic legs with enough force for a racing brake pedal (I heard 80 kgf, the rumoured figure for full application on F1 brakes is around 90).
Must be quite difficult to adapt to that.
IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield reckons Zanardi could race in the Indianapolis 500:
He would have to pass the same sort of physical and test that any other driver would, and based on what I’ve seen his physical ability is, it certainly doesn’t look like there would be any problems or stumbling blocks. I could confidently say he would likely get his physical passed and get a license.
I remember hearing a story that Douglas Bader who was an amputee RAF pilot in WW2 could pull tighter turns than his colleagues due to the fact that the blood didn’t (couldn’t!) rush to his legs, causing him to lose consciousness. While G-forces in F1/Indycars aren’t as severe, but could this be in Zanardi’s favour?
Chip Ganassi is keen on having his former driver back:
We are talking to him but we’ll have to see; talk is cheap. But it would be a dream come true to bring him back; it would be as big as it gets. I’d sure like to do it and I wouldn’t want him returning with anybody else.
I so hope this happens, it will be one of the highlights of the 2013 racing year. With Ganassi set to have one of the few unchanging line ups for next season, adding an extra car for Zanardi at Indianapolis should be relatively easy.
Now if only Montoya would give up the ghost in Nascar and return back to Indy.
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