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Sam Schmidt Drives Again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS (May 22, 2014) - Topping out at 97 miles per hour, former IndyCar driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series Team owner Sam Schmidt drove a race car May 18 for the first time since he was paralyzed in a practice accident in 2000. Driving a modified 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray dubbed the SAM Project, meaning "semi-autonomous motorcar," Schmidt became the first person with quadriplegia to drive a race car at speed using integrated advanced electronics.

Schmidt drove four consecutive demonstration laps prior to Old National Armed Forces Pole Day qualifying for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The SAM Project is a collaborative venture between Arrow Electronics, Inc., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Falci Adaptive Motorsports, a nonprofit. Arrow led the development of the SAM car and the systems integration, as well as the engineering of specific systems for the car. Ball led the modification of the human-to-machine interface and driver-guidance system. Colorado neurosurgeon and Falci Adaptive Motorsports founder Dr. Scott Falci advocated for the modification of a Corvette for FAM's adaptive motorsports program for the spinal-cord injured and recruited Schmidt to the SAM Project. The Air Force Research Laboratory monitored Schmidt's biometrics during laps, as well as collecting data in how he interacted with the guidance systems.

"Racing has been a dream of mine since I was five years old," said Schmidt. "I thought I'd never be able to race again after my accident, but this vehicle made it possible. While I was in the SAM vehicle, I was unencumbered by my disability. It was the most normal I have felt in nearly 15 years. It was amazing."

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqjcxJiPX9M