Alex Zanardi won two CART championship titles in North America (kind of equivalent to Formula 1 in Europe) in 1997 and 1998. Before that he was a Formula 1 driver between 1991 and 1994. In 1999 Zanardi returned to Formula 1 without great success and 2 years after he started racing again in the US CART championship. This was a decision that changed is life dramatically since in September 15th of 2001 he suffered a violent accident at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz when he was leading the race. As a consequence of that accident he lost both legs (one at and one above the knee) in the impact and nearly three-quarters of his blood volume, though rapid medical intervention saved his life. This was the end of his open-wheel racing career.
Despite this huge adversity, his moral and competition spirit stood high and between 2005 and 2009 he joined the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) driving for BMW managing to win 4 races and 3 other podium standings.
After leaving motorsports, Alex Zanardi ‘kept on wheels’ but this time switching sports by competing in handbiking , a form of paralympic cycling, with the stated goal of representing Italy at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. In September 2012 he won gold medals at the London Paralympics in the Individual H4 time trial and the Individual H4 road race followed by a silver medal in the Mixed H1-4 Team Relay.
But don’t think he has had enough. Alex stated recently that he would be interested in returning in 2013 to auto racing for the famous Indianapolis 500!