Book Review: "My Sweetest Victory" by Alex Zanardi
Alessandro Zanardi claims he's never cried over the fate of losing both of his legs at EuroSpeedway Lausitz on September 15th, 2001, but readers of his still unfolding life story Alex Zanardi - My Sweetest Victory might wipe a tear or two.
Zanardi, whose racing career appeared to be cut short—actually, his life appeared to be cut short—following that devastating accident is back in the drivers seat again and his road to recovery after that horrendous crash is only a small part of his tale.
In a 420-page tome (including indices) translated from Italian and presented in the United States by Bentley Publishers, Zanardi talks of his childhood, introduction to racing a small kart and the technical expertise he gained in that arena, together with the procedures that took him from a humble start in Castel Maggiore to his current home in Monaco.
"Alex Zanardi: My Sweetest Victory" is subtitled A Memoir of Racing Success, Adversity and Courage and his life has been just that. Available October 25 the soft cover 5-5/8"x8-3/16" tome contains 64 high resolution images, many from the Zanardi family archives that photographically delineate Zanardi's stunning rise to fame, particularly his two championship seasons of 1997-98 in the CART Champ Car World Series.
A compelling foreword by Mario Andretti, recognized as Driver of the Century begins the journey and Zanardi's own words complete it, even if Zanardi's career and life are still on the fast track to success as he competes in a specially set-up European Touring Car Championship BMW for Team Italy/Spain. In his first full campaign back in harness, Alex earned a front-row start and sixth place finish in the ETCC season finale.
The man CART team owner renamed Alex has a delightful way of speaking and, even though this book is a translation of his native tongue, Zanardi's expressions come through so naturally as to make the reader think he originally intended to produce his life story in this adopted language.
Readers have the opportunity to learn where Zanardi's vast reserves of competitiveness come from, how his driving talents progressed, how and why he made the choices that led him to the United States and the immense success he enjoyed during his three-year tenure with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in CART.
Nothing is glossed over, of course. One wouldn't expect that from Alessandro Zanardi whose straightforward nature has always been his calling card inside and out of a racing car. He has views on all the characters in his life and Zanardi calls it as he sees it. Nothing much has changed since that fateful day near Dresden.
If readers are expecting Zanardi to dwell on the accident that changed his life, they are in for a rude awakening, as the Italian allocated only a small amount of space - by comparison to the balance of the book - to dealing with the recent changes in his life.
Sandro does emphasize his own technical contributions to the production of [his many] prostheses and an ongoing willingness to assist in his own rehabilitation, as anyone who knows the man would expect.
Zanardi's ride to the top of the racing ladder takes up the bulk of the book and his tales are as absorbing as the man himself. His story ought to be required reading for young drivers coming up through the ranks, no matter who and where they are.
Zanardi dwells on his devotion to family and long-time friendships from childhood and with his racing contemporaries; he knows who he likes and who he does not, and has no difficulties singling out one or another for praise or damning. He is as honest and to the point as he's always been.
I picked up this book on an airplane and couldn't put it down during a race weekend. Having the privilege of working around Alex Zanardi, his lovely, rock steady wife Daniela and being able to meet his beautiful son Niccolo, I have a great appreciation for where he's come from and where the Zanardi story is going.
This book released in 2003 throughout Italy is a bargain for US purchasers at the absolute bargain price of $17.95, way less than a tank of fuel these days. Contact www.BentleyPublishers.com for more information on the October 25 release and Zanardi's personal appearance schedule in November. Here's the perfect anytime gift for racing fans. Inspiration doesn't come any better than Alex Zanardi - My Sweetest Victory.