CHAMPCAR/CART: Zanardi awake and lucid

Updated: 2001-09-20 22:00 EDT Motorsport.com - The condition of Alessandro Zanardi continues to improve, and his medication has now been reduced to the point where he is awake and talking. He came out of the medically induced coma yesterday,...

Updated:
2001-09-20 22:00 EDT

Motorsport.com - The condition of Alessandro Zanardi continues to improve, and his medication has now been reduced to the point where he is awake and talking. He came out of the medically induced coma yesterday, and today reached the next stage in his recovery.

"[Zanardi's wife Daniella] had just told Alex about his legs and he said that was OK, he didn't care because he still had her and Niccolo," related Tony Kanaan, Zanardi's teammate at Mo Nunn Racing. "That's the kind of spirit I expected from him."

Zanardi, a two-time CART champion with Team Ganassi, had both of his legs amputated above the knee on Sunday following a severe accident at the Lausitzring circuit's debut CART race on Saturday.

In the race, as he exited the pits near the end of the race, he lost control of his car, and the side of his car was hit at high speed by Alexandre Tagliani of Team Player's. The accident broke the car's chassis just behind the front suspension, and severed Zanardi's legs, one above and the other below the knee.

When the CART safety team, led by Dr. Terry Trammell, reached the accident scene, rapid action was critical to save Zanardi's life.

"It was the equivalent to a military evacuation. It was just like he had stepped on a land mine," Trammell recalls. "Both femoral arteries were ruptured and Alex was bleeding profusely. He was in big trouble."

Zanardi was quickly airlifted to the Berlin-Marzahn clinic, and arrived there with only minutes to spare, according to Steve Olvey, CART's director of medical affairs.

"The ICU doctors at Berlin said that in another 10-15 minutes they wouldn't have had a chance to save him," Olvey explained. "[Trammell] had the bleeding stopped, but Alex had lost 70 percent of the blood in his body and was still bleeding internally.

Zanardi underwent first the amputation operation on Sunday, and then a follow-up procedures on Monday and Wednesday to clean the wounds.

Dr. Walter Schaffartzik, the lead physician for the team treating Zanardi, is upbeat about the 34-year-old CART and Formula One veteran's condition.

"Everything is going the way we want," said Schaffartzik. "He's stable. We found nothing bad at all. It doesn't look as if we should expect something serious."

Zanardi is expected to undergo a further, fourth, surgery on Friday to again inspect and clean the wounds. He also remains under significant pain medication.

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Zanardi's family has asked that donations be made in his name to:

World Association to Aid Children
Association Mondial pur l'Aid des Enfant
20 Avenue de Fontvieille
MC 98000
Monaco

Cards and letters can be sent to:

Mo Nunn Racing
2920 Fortune Circle West, Suite E
Indianapolis, IN 46241
USA

Motorsport.com will update this story as more details become available.

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mo Nunn