In 2000, Sam Schmidt faced the unthinkable. During a test lap ahead of the season-opening Indy 200, he lost control of his car and the left rear hit the wall. Following intensive medical treatment, he was rendered a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down, and he has been bound to a wheelchair ever since.
That hasn’t stopped him from making the best of his situation, though. Since the crash, Schmidt has earned a new lease on life when it comes to racing. Thanks to a company by the name of Arrow Technologies, Schmidt is able to fully operate his specially designed Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with sensors, cameras, and a breathing tube.
Schmidt showed off his special C7 Corvette Z06 on a recent episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” and—as we would be—Leno was blown away. To accelerate, Schmidt exhales into the tube; to brake, he inhales. The advanced infrared cameras and sensors work with a special pair of sunglasses Schmidt wears; the sunglasses communicate Schmidt’s intention to turn the car right or left.
Schmidt has also become the first person to receive a restricted, semi-autonomous driver’s license in the country. The state of Nevada issued Schmidt the license last year and he can drive his special Corvette Z06 on all state roads legally. One day, Schmidt could be a catalyst to put other paralyzed individuals behind the wheel once again.