Las Vegas race car driver returns to track 21 years after near-death crash

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 20, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The OPTIMA Search for The Ultimate Street Car is currently happening at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

80 cars are competing in 7 classes, but for one local family, this is not only a once-in-a-lifetime experience but also proof that dreams do come true.

Sam Schmidt, a former IndyCar driver, won the 1999 500 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

A few months after that victory, his life changed completely. He became a quadriplegic after crashing during practice laps.

His love for racing remained this entire time and today, he returned to the track to race in a very different way.

At the speedway, drivers had begun driving laps while the Arrow Electronics Team anxiously awaited their turn.

This is a unique team led by Sam Schmidt

Schmidt teamed with Arrow Electronics to modify a Chevrolet Corvette C8 that he drives at racetrack speeds with semi-autonomous (SAM) head controls.

Once he’s inside his car and driving at the track, no one would guess all the hardships that Schmidt and his team have gone through just to be there.

He’s competing in the GTS class with at least a dozen able-bodied racers driving conventional cars and today, one of his laps was under 60 seconds, a great achievement.

The OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Series is a two-day event that will continue tomorrow.