Two-time Champ Car titlewinner Alex Zanardi to serve as Grand Marshal of German 500, surprise planned for race attendees. INDIANAPOLIS (April 16, 2003) -- One of the most popular drivers ever to strap into a Champ Car, Alex Zanardi has provided...
Two-time Champ Car titlewinner Alex Zanardi to serve as Grand Marshal of German 500, surprise planned for race attendees.
INDIANAPOLIS (April 16, 2003) -- One of the most popular drivers ever to strap into a Champ Car, Alex Zanardi has provided a number of memorable surprises to fans of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series over his years of competition, and may have another up his sleeve for racing fans that attend the May 11 running of the German 500.
Zanardi will serve as the Grand Marshal for this year's German 500 at Eurospeedway Lausitz, marking the first time that the two-time Champ Car World Series titlewinner has returned to the German superspeedway since his devastating crash at the end of the 2001 event which resulted in the traumatic amputation of the lower part of both of his legs.
From his breathtaking last-lap pass of Bryan Herta in the Corkscrew of Laguna Seca to win in 1996 to his charge from 22nd to win the 1997 Cleveland event, the dashing Italian has left fans shaking their heads in wonderment many times before -- and the May 11 event at Eurospeedway Lausitz could result in even more surprises for his legions of Champ Car fans.
"I am honored to serve as the Grand Marshal for the German 500 and look forward to seeing all of the Champ Car fans again," Zanardi said. "It was always nice to be cheered by the crowd and it will be great to hear those cheers even through a symbolic effort such as this, but I am working on something to make sure that I will do more than just wave a flag as the Grand Marshal."
Undaunted, Zanardi has made remarkable strides since that fateful day in Lausitz, first just to take his first unaided steps, and making the remarkable progression to driving himself around his home in a sedan specially-equipped with hand controls. Alex made a celebrated return to the Champ Car scene last year at the Molson Indy Toronto, seeming many of his old competitors for the first time since the accident and providing one of the most inspirational moments of the 2002 season as he climbed the flag stand to wave the green flag to start the race as well as the checkered flag to end it.
"Like no other racing driver, Alex Zanardi stands for motor sports with all its facets. We have even greater respect for his outstanding personality and the way in which Alex Zanardi mastered his fate," Hans-Joerg Fischer, the managing director of EuroSpeedway Lausitz, said. "It is an extraordinary honor for my team and me, for CART and all Champ Car pilots, as well as for the entire Lausitz region, to be able to welcome him again as a member of this great international family at the German 500."
In his role as Grand Marshal for this year's event, Zanardi, who won back-to-back Champ Car titles in 1997 and '98, will be involved in ceremonies surrounding the race including giving the call to start engines prior to the event. The race will be the fifth round of the 18-race Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season and marks the first superspeedway race of the year for the Champ Cars.