Toronto, June 14, 2002 - The Molson IndyFest is thrilled to announce that Alex Zanardi will be in attendance to receive the Greg Moore Achievement Award at this year's Black & White Gala Dinner July 4 in Toronto.
The Molson Indy Achievement Award, introduced in 1987 and renamed the Greg Moore Achievement Award in 2000, recognizes an individual, group, or organization that has made a major contribution to auto racing, particularly in regard to the CART/FedEx Championship Series.
"Alex has been a huge supporter of Molson IndyFest events in Toronto over the years", says Charlie Johnstone, Executive Director, Molson Indy Festival Foundation. "He has contributed so much to the CART Series and is a fan favourite in Toronto, exhibiting a terrific spirit both on and off the track".
Zanardi was born in Bologna, Italy, and currently resides in Monaco with his wife Daniela and son Niccolo. Like most Champ Car drivers, Zanardi got his start racing in go-karts. From 1983-1987 he raced karts all over the world, winning races and titles in his native Italy, other European venues, and in Australia. After succeeding in karts, Zanardi made the jump to the Italian Formula 3 spending 1988 -1990 toiling on the Italian tracks. His best season was 1990 in which he scored two wins and four other podium finishes, ending the season as series runner-up. He also took the F3 European Cup at Le Mans.
In 1991, Zanardi moved on to the Formula 3000 series finishing as runner-up in that series as well. In addition to a successful run in F3000, Zanardi also jumped up the ladder to the big time, starting the final three races of the year for the injured Michael Schumacher in Eddie Jordan's Formula One car, finishing ninth in his debut at Spain despite never having tested the car.
From 1992-1994 Zanardi rode the Formula One roller coaster. In 1992 he was the test driver for the Benneton car, as well as starting three races for the injured Christian Fittipaldi in the Menardi ride. In 1993 he seemed to have arrived, landing a full-time position with the Lotus team, but he saw his season ended by an accident in Belgium. In 1994 he returned to the Lotus team as the test driver, replacing the injured Pedro Lamy four races into the season.
In 1995 Zanardi left the Formula One ranks and ran the British Racing Production Championship finishing fourth overall. He also tested for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, setting the stage for his next career move.
1996 was a sea of change for Zanardi's racing fortunes. In his rookie season in CART with Target/Chip Ganassi, he took six poles, won three races, and took the Rookie of the Year honours by finishing third overall in the series. In 1997 he continued his improvement, garnering four poles, seven podium finishes, and five wins, and taking the series championship. 1998 saw Zanardi move even further up the scale, dominating the circuit with 15 podium finishes and seven victories in 19 starts, including four consecutive wins. He clinched the championship with four races remaining, the earliest such feat in CART history. He became the first back-to-back series winner since Bobby Rahal in 1986-87.
In 1999 Zanardi left CART to return to Formula One as a driver for the Williams team and a team-mate of Ralf Schumacher. In 2000, he took a year's sabbatical from racing, spending time with his wife Daniela and son Niccolo.
After a two-year hiatus, former champion Zanardi returned to the CART circuit in 2000 reuniting with Mo Nunn, the man who as technical director at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing engineer his Rookie of the Year season of 1996 and his back-to-back CART titles in 1997-98. Zanardi raced Honda/Reynards for Mo Nunn Racing in 2001, driving the No. 66 Pioneer/WorldCom car alongside team-mate Tony Kanaan.
While closing in on what many believe might have been his first victory of the season, at the American Memorial 500 in Germany on Sept. 16, Zanardi was involved in a late-race accident that left him with devastating leg injuries. After six weeks in a German hospital and several months of physiotherapy, Zanardi has very much returned to a normal life with the use of prosthetic legs, and has been a true inspiration to everyone during his recovery, much as he always was as a fierce competitor on the racetrack and true gentleman on and off the track.
The Greg Moore Achievement Award
Past recipients of the Greg Moore Achievement Award include: Barry Green, Ric Moore, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti , Wally Dallenbach, Player's Ltd., Al Unser, Rick Mears, Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammell, Roger Penske, Jim Chapman, Mario Andretti, John Frasco and Carl Haas.
FedEx presents the Black & White Gala Dinner which will take place Thursday, July 4 at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Zanardi will be joined at the event by many of his colleagues and drivers who were his competition. The event is the biggest fundraising event - and the social highlight - of a series of Molson IndyFest events that take place June 22 - July 5. Molson IndyFest is the best week of racing action anywhere in the world, delivering an entire week of pre-race festivities geared to getting the community revved up for the big event. All funds raised at Molson IndyFest events will be donated to the Molson Indy Festival Foundation, the charitable component of the Molson Indy, which supports local children's charities. The Foundation will raise over $450,000 this year, making the total contribution to-date in excess of $4 million dollars.