Alex Zanardi: Inspiration for everyone
My Sweetest Victory by Alex Zanardi
Unless you are a motorsport fan like me, then you might not know who Alex is. But even if you're not even remotely interested in the sport, please don't stop reading now. This is a story of fortitude, hope and victory.
A book which gives inspiration to all
This incredible book was written in 2004 and if you know about this remarkable man then you'll understand why I say that we can all find inspiration from this book, no matter who we are.
What you need to know about Alex Zanardi and his story
Why is this man an inspiration? He was a very successful racing driver, having raced in Formula One in Europe and the CART series in the USA. Three years before he wrote this book he was involved in what was one of the most horrific racing accidents. He was leading the race with only thirteen laps to go. I'm not going into detail about the crash - suffice it to say that he lost his legs.
He embarked upon a vigorous rehabilitation program - he was determined to drive again. He designed and build his own prosthetic legs so that they would be suitable for driving. Three months - just three months - after his accident he stood for the first time on live TV.
Completing the laps
By 2003 he was racing again. The most poignant moment was when he did thirteen laps at Lausitz; symbolically 'finishing' the race in which he had the accident. Yes, he raced cars again. But he took up another racing sport too - hand cycling. And at the 2012 Paralympics he won a gold.
See the videos
One or two reviewers have said that the narrative of the book is disjointed. That's not how it is for me. Reading it, I really feel that Alex and I are chatting over a bottle of wine in an Italian bar. I like the conversational tone. My grandfather was an amputee - he lost a leg in an accident when he was a young man. I was brought up knowing his spirit and determination. But Zanardi isn't just an inspiration for amputees. See him speak in the videos below.
Alex Zanardi - moving and inspirational
This book ably demonstrates the power of the human mind. It shows us what we can achieve given the right attitude and determination.
Today, when our forces are fighting overseas, many are returning with horrific injuries that are similar to the ones the author suffered. In this book, Alex Zanardi shows us that a damaged body does not diminish the person.
This is a powerful and highly recommended book.
Interview with Alex Zanardi
Friend and fellow-competitor, Mark Blundell, interviews Zanardi in 2002. Note that Mark gave up his own racing career because of what happened to Alex,
Alex explains in this video that when you have come close to losing your life, your attitude changes so dramatically. You'll also see footage of him standing, live on TV, just three months after the accident.
To show you how much passion racing drivers have for their sport, Alex says that yes, he'd trade every penny he has in the world to have his legs back but he would NOT trade his racing years.
This video was made seven months after the accident.
The thirteen laps - just eighteen months after the accident Zanardi returned to the track to 'complete' the race. It was hugely emotional.
In the video below he tells that everyone was crying, they were so moved. That is, he says with a chuckle, except his wife.
There was another poignant event in 2012. Alex had raced cars at Brands Hatch but he'd never won there. Twenty one years after racing cars there, he won on hand cycle during the 2012 Olympics.
Note that this was at the age of forty-five, thirty two years after he started racing in karts.
This book is written by one of the people who saved Zanardi's life. In fact, the book starts with his accident. It's a fascinating look into motorsport safety and its history.
It's not just for fans and although there are stories of tragedy, there is also humor and insight in this book that makes it interesting for all.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson