IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt, who was rendered a quadriplegic in an accident at Walt Disney World Speedway in 2001, raced motorsports legend Mario Andretti at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday – and it was all made possible by a specially prepared autonomous Corvette Z06.
Schmidt first drove the semi-autonomous Corvette z06 at Indianapolis last May. The car, which was developed by Arrow Electronics, is steered by Schmidt using his head, while he controls acceleration and braking by blowing and sucking through a tube. He tackled the Pikes Peak hillclimb in the car last year, but his race with Andretti was the first time he had directly raced with someone else.
For the race, Andretti and Schmidt were given identical Corvettes Z06s to pit against eachother on the famed oval track. Schmidt finished second to Andretti in a tight race – but you can be sure that winning wasn’t necessary for Schmidt to be happy. He completed a smoky post-race burnout anyways, later saying his battle with Andretti was “the most normal I’ve felt in 17 years.”
Schmidt isn’t done with the SAM Corvette, either. He wants a rematch with Andretti one day and has already begun thinking about other drivers he’d like to race. According to IndyStar, he even went over things he could have done differently and things he could have improved on after climbing out of the car – just as one of his IndyCar drivers might. The race wasn’t just important for Schmidt. Andretti also cherished the moment, saying it was about giving Sam a “new life.”