Two racing legends will finally have the chance to square off against one another, thanks to exciting new technology.
Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed from the neck down while testing an Indy car 17 years ago, will meet Mario Andretti at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 13.
They’ll both be driving semi-autonomous vehicles for the race around the 2.439-mile road course.
“It’s always exciting when I can get in this awesome car and go fast,” Schmidt said. “However, this time will have extra meaning as I never had a chance to race against Mario during my driving career. He is a true legend that is world renowned and I appreciate his willingness to participate and showcase the next evolution of this technology.”
Schmidt has been able to get back on the track thanks to the Z06 SAM Car, a Corvette modified by global technology company Arrow Electronics.
Schmidt steers the car with a headset connected to infrared cameras that detect his head-tilt motions. He accelerates and brakes with a sip-and-puff device, and he uses voice commands to switch gears and turn the car on and off.
The 77-year-old Andretti will be using the same technology to drive another Arrow-modified Stingray SAM Car.
“It’s a great opportunity to see what (the project) is all about,” Andretti said. “I feel like I’m really, really going to be struggling. I just asked for 70 more horsepower and they haven’t said anything. It’s going to be interesting on the road course. There will be a lot more work to do and a lot more braking. Hopefully, that will work in my favor. We’re going to have it out, big time. I’m sure he’ll be buying (dinner) that night.”
Proceeds from the event will go to Conquer Paralysis Now, a nonprofit organization for spinal cord injury research and treatment founded by Schmidt.
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