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To say Alex Zanardi is an inspiration might be an understatement.

The former CART and F1 driver who lost both legs in an on-track accident in 2001, will be making his first start in the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 26-27 in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE car in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. This will be his first race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and his first race in North America since losing both legs in a Champ Car crash at EuroSpeedway Lausitz (Germany) in 2001.

Following his accident, Zanardi, a two-time CART champion, went on to become a four-time Paralympian gold medalist in cycling, winning two medals each in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games. This past weekend he was at Daytona practicing for the Rolex. Part of that practice included making a driver swap.

“In life, it’s a question of opportunities, and I had this one, which is certainly one of the opportunities I would choose,” he said. “The Rolex 24 At Daytona has always been the 24-hour race for me in my eyes. Being European, people would probably be used to believe that I would want to go to Le Mans, but in reality, I grew up as a race car driver here in America. I’ve always heard about this race, many stories from many colleagues who were involved at some points with this great event. I always dreamed to be here. I’ve been around a long, long time and it’s almost off time right now, but luckily, before the last curtain came down, here I am involved with BMW with a works machine for RLL, and I’m very, very excited to be here.”

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