No. 77 BraunAbility Sponsored Car Driven by Simon Pagenaud
Sam Schmidt is a former Indy Racing League driver and now owner of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Sam is also a quadriplegic, injured during a practice session in 2000. He is also part owner of BraunAbility, one of MobilityWorks’ primary providers of wheelchair minivans and wheelchair lifts. So when the Mid-Ohio Honda Indy 200 races came to Lexington Ohio this weekend, several representatives of the MobilityWorks headquarters in Akron Ohio, and our Detroit Michigan store, were able to enjoy a day with the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car team. Sam and his entire crew were very gracious and took a lot of time to answer all of our questions and provide us a with a personal tour. Saturday was qualifying day for driver’s Simon Pagenaud (# 77 car) and Tristan Vautier (#55 car). Pagenaud was 8th and Vautier 11th on the starting grid going into the race on Sunday.
About Sam Schmidt
On January 6, 2000, Sam was in Orlando, FL practicing at the Walt Disney World Speedway. As his car exited turn two, it hit the wall. Sam was airlifted to a nearby hospital in extremely critical condition. He was diagnosed as a quadriplegic, the result of a severe injury to his spinal cord at the C-3/C-4 levels. In 2001, just 14 months after his accident and at the urging of his wife and parents, Sam announced the formation of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Undeterred by his injury, Sam travels over 120 days a year on behalf of the team and The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) is leading the charge for a cure for paralysis by funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances.
In June of 2012, The Braun Corporation announced that Mike Bruno, of Bruno Independent Living Aids, and Sam Schmidt, of Sam Schmidt Motorsports, joined the senior management group as strategic investors.
Open Wheel Racing with Hand Controls
Also on the track at Mid-Ohio (not associated with the Schmidt Peterson team) was Michael Johnson who competed in Saturday’s Mazda USF2000 Series race. Johnson drives his specially modified race car with hand controls. In May, 2011 at Watkins Glen International Raceway, he became the first paralyzed racer to win in an open-wheel formula car. His goal is be an IndyCar driver. Mazda recently named Johnson as one of the “Game Changers” the company is featuring in a new national advertising campaign. Johnson is appearing in print ads being shown in Popular Mechanics, Esquire, Car & Driver and Road & Track. Johnson races with JDC MotorSports. Another USF2000 Series race is on the schedule for Sunday.