The inspirational story of Sam Schmidt keeps getting better and better.
Schmidt has been inspiring us all as he continues to battle back from a testing accident at Walt Disney World Speedway that left him a quadriplegic in 2000.
Schmidt hasn’t let his disability slow him down, literally, as he used a specially modified semi-autonomous 2016 Z06 to reach 152mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May and has also driven the street circuit at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb.
On Wednesday Schmidt will make headlines again as he becomes the first person to receive an autonomous vehicle restricted driver’s license to drive a semi-autonomous vehicle at a Las Vegas event, according to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.
Schmidt and the Arrow Electronics team have been making continual improvements to a series of Corvettes, including a recent IoT (Internet of Things) platform that allows real-time adjustments to the car while on the track.
“Arrow’s engineers incorporated insights learned from the previous model to build an advanced car design that incorporates cutting-edge Internet of Things technologies and live data-streaming, among other exciting improvements,” Joe Verrengia, Arrow’s global director of corporate social responsibility, who oversees the company’s SAM project, said in May. “We hope the SAM car continues to inspire and drive technology innovation forward.”
No doubt about that.
Schmidt himself is thrilled with his Arrow ride.
“It is full steam ahead and it is all good with Arrow,” he said. “They’re getting a substantial return on their investment. Everybody at the company’s happy. A lot of things we are doing outside as well as inside provide value; it’s the race team, a comprehensive promotions deal that includes the SAM Corvette, and a lot of off-track activation and events. It’s more than just the on-track part.” Nevertheless, Schmidt calls it “also the toughest thing” he’s ever done. “Going back 20 years to try and find my own budget to drive. And then subsequently put teams together in IndyCar and then Indy Lights, it’s not easy, but we have good partners making our team stronger,” he said.
“Honestly, if I wouldn’t have started driving the [Arrow-outfitted SAM] Corvette and building upon that, and getting some commercial traction in the technology industry, I don’t know where we would be right now.”
Sam Schmidt to Race Semi-Autonomous Corvette Z06 at Pikes Peak
Quadriplegic Racer Sam Schmidt Hits 152 MPH in a Semi-Autonomous Corvette Z06
Quadriplegic Racer to Drive Semi-Autonomous Corvette on Long Beach Grand Prix Course