Uncensored CΛRT Commentary|
by Ed Donath
ATHENS, NY—Heartspeak, for once, took precedence over polyglot nationalist European tongues when
Allessandro Zanardi triumphantly returned to the most American locale on the entire continent—the
superspeedway at Lausitz, Germany.
“This was something that was very symbolic, if you like, very emotional for the people that saw me
taken away in a helicopter, leaving a big trace of blood,” Zanardi harkened back to the tragic September
2001 afternoon when, with 13 race laps remaining, both of his legs were destroyed in a horrific wreck,
impacting his life far more than an overdue comeback victory ever could have on that fateful day.
“And then when I come back here and I drive [a symbolic 13-lap “closure” exhibition in a hand
control-equipped Champ Car] at the same speed I was driving last time I was here…so certainly this
is surprising. It looks like a miracle, but for me, what I’ve lived through day to day, it’s not a miracle.”
Ever the self-deprecating humorist, perhaps the single human quality that endears the Bolognese
supershoe-turned-superglove to us New Worlders—aside from his driving prowess—is Zanardi’s refusal
to mince words or be untrue in speech to his heartfelt sentiments. How refreshing it would be if
everyone involved with our beloved speed sport would follow his example.
The two-time CΛRT champion respectfully Americanized his name to Alex before coming to race in
the U.S. Then, with the help of a supportive Californian as his guide and sidekick, self-proclaimed
best friend “Jeemy” Vasser, let middle-American fans and reporters know just how much his Italian pal
cared for us and how he desired that we be properly entertained in our racing experiences. Zanardi
methodically proceeded to win yanks over one race weekend at a time.
Impossible come-from-behind victories, incredible passes, and those trademark centrifugal post-race
smoky burnouts—American as, well, doughnuts—helped solidify the strong bond between Alex Zanardi and
Champ Car fans the world over.
Here was a guy who modestly talked the talk—in quaint broken English with a cute speech impediment,
no less—and also boldly walked the walk. That Alex Zanardi is still able to do both of those things,
despite the agonies that he has chosen to endure, sets the greatest and most passionate example of
strong faith, admirable work ethic, and indomitable spirit.
Being a one-in-a-million in the ranks of professional racing is a huge and special enough combination
of God-given talent and accomplishment. But being a one-in-a-billion member of the human race makes
Alex Zanardi that much more special to all who come in contact with him.
We’re luckier than ever to have Alex Zanardi behind the wheel of a Champ Car!
Copyright © 2003 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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