Former CART champ Alex Zanardi involved in serious crash with 'heavy vehicle' while racing handbike

Alex Zanardi returned to major auto racing in 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Alex Zanardi returned to major auto racing in 2019. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Former CART and Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi was involved in a serious crash while racing his handbike on Friday per multiple reports.

Zanardi, 53, was participating in a handbike race in Italy when he was reportedly hit by a large vehicle and had to be airlifted to a hospital. From the AP:

A Carabinieri police official in Montepulciano said the accident involved a “heavy vehicle” and he believed Zanardi was still alive. The official did not give his name as per local custom.

Zanardi reportedly suffered a significant head injury and is in the intensive care unit of the hospital he was transported to.

Zanardi turned to racing handbikes in a second career of sorts after he lost portions of both his legs in a horrific crash in a 2001 CART race. Zanardi’s car had spun out after he pitted and it was hit from the side at the front by Alex Tagliani’s car. The impact ripped the front part of Zanardi’s car away from the rest of the chassis.

Zanardi won back-to-back CART titles in 1997 and 1998 before he went back to Formula 1 for the 1999 season. Zanardi recorded 15 victories in 66 CART starts. He had a crazy 15 podium finishes in 19 races in 1998.

He returned to major auto racing in 2019, when he drove for BMW Team Rahal Lanigan Letterman in the 24 Hours of Daytona. The team finished ninth in the GTD class in a car that was equipped with hand controls for Zanardi. 

Zanardi became a world-class handbike racer in the years after his CART crash. He won two gold medals and a silver medal in each of the 2012 and 2016 summer Paralympic Games and has won 10 World Championship gold medals. 

This post will be updated with more information.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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