Chicken Soup For the Sole: Alex Zanardi

Race-car driving is not a sport for the cautious or faint-hearted. It takes a special kind of courage to strap yourself into a vehicle that travels at 200 MPH, and even more courage to keep wanting to do it after suffering a tragic accident that cost you both your legs! Italian Alex Zanardi is an individual who lived that story and discovered that he had the power to overcome extreme adversity and continue to live his best possible life.

Alex Zanardi: The Driver

Italians have a long history of success in race car driving, and Alex Zanardi spent the first 35 years of his life adding to it. Born and raised in Bologna, Italy, Zanardi showed an interest in racing from a young age, and began racing go-carts at age 13. In 1991, Zanardi raced in Formula One, which is the highest level of competitive single-seater auto racing. He won CART championships in 1997 and 1998 before returning to Formula One for one last season. Zanardi had built a reputation as a reliable and versatile driver, however, soon his life would change completely.

Tragedy and Comeback

In 2001, Zanardi suffered a catastrophic accident while racing in Germany, resulting in multiple injuries including the loss of both his legs. Zanardi very nearly died on the track; he lost 3/4 of his blood and barely survived the crash. As Zanardi began his long recovery process, very few if any thought he’d ever be able to return to the sport. Incredibly, after being fitted with two prosthetic limbs, Zanardi began discussing a return to the sport. It took two years, but in 2003, Alex Zanardi returned to the track. Using a special hand-operated accelerator and brake system, Zanardi was able to return to racing full time, driving for the BMW team in the FIA Championship.

I’m Jessica Cox, and I have a lot of respect for people who can overcome serious obstacles on their way to creating their best possible life. You don’t have to seek fame for it either: being the best possible version of yourself is the greatest reward a person can receive. If you’d like me to share my story at your convention, business convention, or religious gathering, please contact me.