Zanardi Goes Home

Alex Zanardi went home from rehab yesterday, 18 months after suffering traumatic brain injuries in a cycling accident. He was training for a race in July, 2020, when his hand cycle hit a truck.

Zanardi will continue therapy and at home. He will still need top go to rehabilitation clinics at times.

Zanardi, 55, won the 1997 and 1998 CART championships, lost both of his legs in an accident at the CART race at Lausitzring in Germany in 2001. He then become a gold medalist in cycling at the paralympic games. He has returned to a race car. Zanardi drove in the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Zanardi’s wife, Daniela, issued a public statement.

“An important step was that Alex was able to leave hospital a few weeks ago and is back at home with us now,” she said. “We had to wait very long for this and are very happy that it was possible now, even if there are still temporary stays in special clinics planned for the future to carry out special rehabilitation measures on site.”

“The recovery continues to be a long process,” said his wife. “The rehabilitation programme led by doctors, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and speech therapists has enabled steady progress. Of course, setbacks are there and can still occur. Sometimes you also have to make two steps back in order to make one step forward. But Alex proves again and again that he is a real fighter.”

“It is a big help for him and us that we receive so much support on this way, not only from the doctors and therapists that intensively work with him,” she said.

“We are very grateful to everyone for that and for so much more because these strong ties give us additional energy. This also goes for the continued sympathy we receive from racing drivers, fans and acquaintances from all over the world. We would like to express a big ‘grazie’ to all who send their good thoughts and power to Alex.”

Zanardi Update- Responding to Commands

Alex Zanardi is making significant recovery after five brain operations. The piece below, written by Michael Taylor and published in Forbes today, also gives a hint of the extent of Zanardi’s injuries. He has to be one of the most resilient people ever. The Forbes article:

Former Formula One and Indy racing star Alex Zanardi has taken significant steps in his recovery from a devastating handbike crash in June this year, Italian newspapers have reported.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera today wrote that Zanardi, 54, had recovered his hearing and sight, and was able to respond with hand movements to questions from doctors and his wife, Daniela.

Doctors have confirmed Zanardi was able to shake hands on demand and raise his thumb to signal “Ok”, and also turn his head towards Daniela.

Italian newspaper Corriere today wrote that the dual Indy champion cannot yet speak as the hole in his trachea is being kept open as a precaution.

A multiple Paralympic handbike gold medalist after losing his legs in an Indycar crash in 2001, Zanardi was placed in an induced coma after suffering serious brain and facial injuries in a collision with a truck during a charity handbike race near Siena, Italy.

Zanardi Well Enough to Transfer; Kirkwood Gets a 2020 Do Over

Some bits of positive news:

Alex Zanardi, two time Indycar champion and paralympic gold medalist, continues to recover from his hand cycling accident last June. Zanardi suffered neurological and facial damage when his cycle hit a truck during a race in Tuscany. He had been in a facility in San Rafaella, but is moving to a rehabilitation center in Padua, which is closer to his home.

“The patient has reached a generally stable physical and neurological condition that permitted his transfer to another hospital equipped with all the necessary clinical specialties and closer to the family home,” said a spokesman for the San Rafaella hospital.

Kirkwood Returns to Andretti for Indy Lights

For 2021 Kyle Kirkwood will be where he was supposed to be in 2020. The 2018 USF200 champion and 2019 Indy Pro 200 champion will finally get to drive in Indy Lights for Andretti Autosport, where his 2020 season was going to take place.

Kirkwood spent the past season in IMSA, which is not a bad alternative. For one thing, he received some experience doing pit stops, which drivers don’t get in Indy Lights. I look for Kirkwood, who will be in car 28 for Andretti, to be a strong contender for the title.

IMS 500 Plans, Double Header Rumors Top Busy Week for Indycar

Cars haven’t been on track since last Saturday, but Indycar continues to make news- some facts, some rumors, and also bit of sadness. The pandemic has made uncertainty the only certain thing. Other sports are taking the first steps toward resuming while Indycar is at the halfway point of its season which is still scheduled to run into October.

The 88 page plan revealed by IMS on Wednesday for the 500 is very thorough and precise. If you are one of the 87,00 or so still planning to attend the race, it would worth your while to read through it. It is what you would expect from Penske- every situation is covered, every entrance and exit planned down to the tiniest detail in both text and diagram.

More Double Headers?

I’m hearing that Mid Ohio, Gateway, and the Harvest Classic at IMS will become double header weekends to compensate for the apparent losses of Portland and Laguna Seca. Neither track has officially cancelled yet, but Portland is under a crowd limit of 250 or fewer people order, and Laguna Seca does not have the volunteer staff to run the event. The Coronavirus in California also presents an obstacle.

Assuming St. Pete still goes forward, which I am skeptical about, the series would run 14 races with the new double headers. Two races at gateway the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 sounds like a lot for the crews, but it’s really no different than running Detroit the weekend after the traditional 500 date. In addition, the entire month of September would be open. I don’t like the idea of no races for an entire month and then having the series return for its final two or three events. It would be difficult to add a new track in September.

Ralph Liguori


On Wednesday, Ralph Liguori, itinerant racer, died at age 93. Liguori started more than 130 races between NASCAR and Indycar. His best finish was  second in the 1970 Hoosier Hundred. he passed A. J. Foyt for the spot. Liguori tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 six times between 1959 and 1968. He was bumped with 20 minutes left on Bump Day in 1963. Liguori raced into his 70s and won a race in 1973.

Setback for Zanardi

After some good news earlier in the week, Alex Zanardi’s condition has worsened. On Monday the former CART champion was moved to a rehabilitation facility. This morning he returned to ICU as his condition became unstable.

Zanardi suffered facial and neurological injuries in a hand bike accident on June 19.

Trouble for COTA

The FIA announced this morning that Formula will not have any races in the Americas. The cancellations include Canada,Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. this is particularly bad news for the Circuit of the Americas, which had already lost this year’s Indycar race among other events. It is sad to see such a great track in jeopardy.

Whether Indycar or F1 returns there next year remains to be seen. Roger Penske has talked about possibly having F1 return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the road course has improved since the last time the U. S. Grand Prix was here, I still don’t think it’s a great F1 track.  The course needs some significant elevation changes to be a good track for F1.

Iowa for Sale?

This is strictly a rumor, but it seems Iowa Speedway may be for sale and Roger Penske may consider buying it to keep it on the Indycar schedule. This could be one of the first side benefits of Penske buying the series.

Iowa is a great track for Indycar. I love going there. I have always thought that Indycar should own some tracks, especially ovals, to keep a solid schedule. I think it would make economic sense in the long run.




Zanardi Update: More Surgery, Condition Unchanged

Alex Zanardi underwent five hours of surgery yesterday for facial reconstruction and to stabilize other injuries. The surgeries also were to prepare for future therapies.

The former CART champion’s condition remains the same.  He is still in an induced coma. His cardio-respiratory condition is stable. Zanardi’s neurological condition remains “severe.”

Zanardi was injured in a handbike racing accident on June 20. He swerved into the opposite lane and collided with an oncoming truck.


Zanardi Update: More Surgery; Top Gun Waits for 2021

Photo: Alex Zanardi at Belle Isle

Former Indycar champion Alex Zanardi underwent a 2 1/2 hour brain surgery yesterday. The operation  was anticipated by his medical team. Zanardi suffered facial and neurological trauma in a hand bike crash during a race in Italy June 20. He remains in a medically induced coma.

The doctors say he  is stable metabolically and from a cardio-respiratory standpoint, but his neurological condition is described as “grave.”

Zanardi was expected to awake from the coma this week. I believe another update will come today.

Top Gun, Enerson Will Wait Until Next Year

Top Gun Racing has tabled their debut in the NTT Indycar Series until 2021. The team owned by Gary trout and Bill Throckmorton, planned to field a car for R C Enerson in the 2020 Indianapolis 500.  Top Gun participated in the Indycar  irace at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway early this spring.

The team will use the postponed entry to acquire assets to start next year. The announcement removes one possible entry from the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 August 23.

Zanardi Update: Injuries Less Severe than Schumacher’s

A glimmer of good news tonight during what is already a tumultuous week in motorsports. In an article published today in Autoweek, the doctor who performed the surgery on two time CART champion Alex Zanardi, Giuseppe Oliveri, said that Zanardi’s injuries are less than the injuries suffered by Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher’s family and representatives have given no information on his condition since his skiing accident in 2013.  I was shocked that Schumacher’s injury was that long ago.

This does not mean Zanardi will fully recover. His prognosis won’t be known until he wakes up from his medically induced coma. Zanardi will remain in the coma until at least next week. The doctor believes his excellent physical shape is in his favor as far as recovery.

I find it ironic that Schumacher and Zanardi drove race cars for as long as they did and then suffer injuries in non auto racing activities. Of course Zanardi did survive losing both legs in a racing incident.