Sam Schmidt took to the track today just before Day 2 of qualifying began for the Indianapolis 500. Schmidt drove a Corvette that was specially equipped with multiple cameras, a pair of smart glasses and a breathing tube.
In 1997 Schmidt joined the Indy Racing League and raced in three Indianapolis 500’s. Schmidt won his only race as a driver in 1999, winning from the pole in Las Vegas. On January 6, 2000 Schmidt crashed while testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida. The crashed rendered him a quadriplegic after he suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord at the C-3/C-4 and put him on a ventilator for several months.
Not wanting to leave racing, Schmidt would need to find a new way to follow his passion. After meeting with Sir Frank Williams, a Formula One team owner who is also quadriplegic, he found his new calling. He would go on to form Sam Schmidt Motorsports. In 2013 Oculus Transport CEO Ric Peterson bought into the team and it was renamed Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Arrow Electronics signed on to sponsor driver James Hinchcliffe. It is through that partnership that Schmidt would help to make a car drivable by people who are quadriplegic. While inside the car Schmidt steers the car by looking through smart glasses equipped with 3-D cameras. He accelerates and decelerates by breathing through a tube. During his four lap “qualifying” run Schmidt drove the car to a 4 lap average of 108.642 mph and reached speeds up to 140 mph.