Alex Zanardi: From Passion to Profession

Alex Zanardi on a racetrack performing a handstand on the bars of his wheelchair

At the age of 13, Alex built his first racing kart using the wheels of a dustbin and pipes from his father’s work. Unknown to him, This would serve as a stepping stone to an illustrious and death-defying career.

He made his professional racing debut in the Italian Formula 3 in 1988.

Three years later, he moved to the F3000, winning his debut race and coming 2nd in the championship.

From then on, he recorded many successes which were however punctuated with setbacks.

From Crash to Glory

Alex Zanardi's totaled formula 1 vehicle

During the 2001 American Memorial auto-race, Alex suffered a crash that cost him both his legs. Thankfully, he survived. The trauma from the crash, both psychological and physical would be enough to deter anyone from getting behind the wheels of a car again, let alone race. But not Alex. He took some time off to recover, and incredibly was back to racing in under two years!

To cater to his unique racing needs, he designed and custom-built his prosthetic legs. For accessibility, his car was fitted with hand-operated brake and accelerator controls.

Upon his return, he was unstoppable, winning his first World Series Race in 2005, and further winning in Istanbul 2006, Brn in 2008 and 2009, before finally announcing his retirement from the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).

Deciding to try his hands in handcycling. As is the way of Alex Zanardi, he quickly began to dominate. In 2009, he won the Venice Marathon – in the category for the disabled, he won the Rome City Marathon in 2010, and in 2011, he won the New York City Marathon in his handcycling class.

The Greek God

Alex has had an amazing paralympic career. Before his incapacitating accident in 2020, he won the men’s road time trial H4 gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London on 5 September 2012. He won the individual H4 road race two days later, and then Italy won the mixed team relay H1-4 on  8 September 2012. Alex earned Top Gear’s title of “The Men of the Year 2012”. In addition, Alex was voted the best male athlete of the 2012 Paralympics.

During the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won gold in both the men’s H5 race time trial and in the mixed team relay, and he also won a silver medal in the road race.

In a triathlon competition in Cervia, Italy, Alex completely dominated his category and smashed the Ironman world record with a time of 8:26’6. Additionally, he placed fifth overall with that time.

Alex’s Notable Achievements and Awards

Here are a few of the awards Alex has won and the achievements he has made over his career.

  • He won the Venice marathon in 2009 in the category for the disabled
  • He received the Autosport Gregor Grant Award 1998 & 2003.
  • He earned the Laureus World Sports Award for Comeback of the Year 2005.
  • Alex was named Top Gear man of the year in 2012
  • He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2013.
  • His performances in London won him the Best Male award at the 2013 Paralympic Sport and Media Awards.
  • He won the Gazzetta Legend Award 2015.
  • He completed the Iron man world championship of 2016

Interestingly, a larger part of his achievements was accomplished after the accident that led to the amputation of his lower limbs

How Alex Inspires Equally AI

The life and career of Alex Zanardi have been nothing short of inspiring. From his early start to his determined spirit that enabled him to achieve so much. 

The story of how Alex Zanardi’s automobiles were custom fitted for accessibility constantly inspires us to enable people living with disabilities to achieve their dreams; by our products that are suited for people with vision and other impairments. As long as you’re willing to try, we’ll always be here to help you change the world.

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *