The legendary Alex Zanardi drove a specially prepared M3 DTM at the Nurburgring on November 8. The drive was a tribute to Zanardi from BMW Motorsport to acknowledge his winning two gold medals and one silver medal on his handbike in the Paralympic games in London. For the occasion, the M3 DTM was painted gold, with Zanardi’s image on the hood, and images of the three medals on the roof.
The car was specially prepared for Zanardi, who lost his legs in an Indy Car accident in 2001, and who has since competed in a BMW with hand controls in the World Touring Car Championship.
To accommodate Zanardi, accelerator and clutch pedals were removed and the brake pedal was shifted to the right to enable him to operate it with his prosthetic leg. Zanardi operated the accelerator with his left hand, and changed gears via a shift paddle. BMW noted that while the modifications enabled Zanardi to do the demonstration drive they would not be suitable under race conditions.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said “I am delighted we have taken on this adventure successfully with Alessandro Zanardi. For years he has been a valued member of the BMW Motorsport family and is a great role model for us all. Despite his handicap, he approaches every challenge with great optimism and passes every test with flying colors. His medals at the Paralympic Games in London are fine examples of this, as are the four race victories he achieved in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for BMW Motorsport. As we have seen today, the challenge of driving the technically complex BMW M3 DTM also proved to be no obstacle for him.”
Zanardi said, “I am overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to drive the BMW M3 DTM today. This is a very special day for me, and one I will always remember fondly. I would like to thank everyone at BMW who has helped make this special moment possible for me. It was a challenge to modify the car to meet my requirements and I am surprised just how quickly the BMW Motorsport engineers managed to complete the necessary modifications. However, the guys have done a great job. I had great fun out on the track. When I first saw the golden car I was overwhelmed. I still have a passion for racing. However, I’m not sure whether our demonstration drive will be anything more than just that, as the level in the DTM may possibly prove to be too high for someone of my age (Zanardi is 46. ed). As such, my main focus is on something completely different after today’s drive: I felt that the BMW family is still behind me and loves me. They showed that once again today.”
The drive was part of a three-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of the BMW M.—Brian S. MorganBack to News