1998: Alex Zanardi
CART PPG Cup winner, Racing driver
In our words: “When Zanardi wins a race, he doesn’t coast in. No, he finds an empty piece of tarmac and lays waste to the remains of his Firestones in an exuberant donut-making display. He’s an old-fashioned racing driver who obviously enjoys his work. He’s doing the job all we armchair critics want…Deep down that’s probably because, just like us, Zanardi is a fan. Except that he had the talent and the motivation to make it as a professional driver, rather than sitting around and dreaming about it.”
In his own words: “[I enjoy racing] every time I get in the car…that’s obviously the best part of my job.”
What happened next: Zanardi was in the midst of a seriously competitive race in September 2001 at EuroSpeedway Lausitz when he suffered a serious crash that eventually claimed both of his legs. He returned to racing (with the help of hand controls) by joining FIA European Touring Car (and then World Touring Car) championships in 2004, going on to win a handful of races until he retired from WTCC in 2009.