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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Alex Zanardi
May 28, 2002


MERRILL CAIN: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today on this week's CART Media Teleconference. Before we get to today's guest, Alex Zanardi, we'd like to congratulate all of the drivers that competed in the Indy 500 this past weekend. The CART contingent had another good showing highlighted by Paul Tracy's second place finish and we'd like to congratulate all of them on a very good, well done, this weekend. Now we get onto today's call, everyone is here, I am Merrill Cain with CART Public Relations. It is truly a privilege to welcome in our guest on this week's call. He is a man who has touched so many of us in motor racing not on by his performances on the track, but for his engaging personality and spirit off the track as well. He joins us today from his home in Monte Carlo where it's getting into the evening. We're happy to be joined today by Alex Zanardi. Thank you for joining us today.

ALEX ZANARDI: It's a pleasure. Good after to everyone.

MERRILL CAIN: I am sure all of you are well aware of Alex's background, but let's quickly run through a couple of highlights and then we'll get right to some questions. Alex came to the CART Series like a breath of fresh air in 1996 after competing on the Formula I circuit. He earned the Jim Truman Rookie of the Year Award in CART, driving for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing that same year. And the following season he posted five race victories en route to the CART FedEx Championship Series title. Alex made it back-to-back Championships in 1998 after recording seven race wins and he broke a lot of hearts when he decided to return to Formula One in 1999. CART was happy to welcome him back to the series last season and he made his Champ Car return competing for Mo Nunn Racing. Alex recorded three top 10 finishes through 15 events in 2001, and he was having his best performance of the season at the American Memorial in Lausitz, Germany on September 15 when he tragically lost both legs in a terrible crash as he was exiting pit lane. Since the accident Alex has shown his fierce competitive drive undergoing rehabilitation after being fitted with prosthetic legs and his story has served as an inspiration for many as he continues on the road to recovery. Alex, we'll open it up for questions in just a second. First off, I'd like to just throw one out to you. Give us an update how you are doing and what you have been up to in the past few months.

ALEX ZANARDI: Things are going pretty well. Obviously it's a big change, therefore, you know, you need more time for me to get probably to bring out the best of the equipment of the prosthetic legs, but I thought -- I had a lot of dreams when I was sitting in my hospital bed in Berlin. I was very anxious to really step on these prothetical legs and then when I did it for the first time it was a big disappointment because it was very, very painful. It was really hard just to hold on; to stay up. I had no balance at all. So I got a little, you know, depressed. But then I said by -- only by exercising and only trying harder I will get something out of it, and that's what I did. So I did and right now I am actually surprised to see where I am after such a poor start because that's what I thought it was, you know, very poor start. Instead, this is probably a route which every man that had misfortunes to lose both his legs has to go through. But obviously maybe being a race driver, you know, I am never content with the result. I always want something more and therefore, it was a little bit hard at the beginning, but right now, things are going much, much better.

MERRILL CAIN: Glad to hear it. We're all sure that you are going to make the most of it, what you have to work with, that's for sure.

Q. Are you driving a street car these days with some kind of hand control? If so, how does that work?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, yes, the answer is yes, it is a very, very simple system. I got a lever that comes out under the steering wheel and has something that's linked directly to the brake pedal. At the edge of this lever there is another little knob that I can pull which is the throttle control. It is electronically controlled so it is very soft around it can be operated with only a finger. Therefore, -- that's the most simple system which is, you know, what I thought was indicated for me. But there's many, many different kinds.

Q. You can pretty much drive a street car like normal before?

ALEX ZANARDI: Oh, yes. I mean, actually the very next day I came home from Berlin, I was driving my car around, so you know, I didn't need legs to do it but obviously it is much easier now that I have legs to get in and out. I can go straight to the door; whereas, before I had to go from the back, you know, I had to basically push myself up on the back of the car, pull the wheelchair in, close the door, and slide myself forward to the driving seat, which was, you know, not inconvenient, but obviously a little long.

Q. Is there a scenario where you can see yourself getting back in a race car of some kind in the future?

ALEX ZANARDI: No, not in some kind because quite frankly, I mean, with all the respect for the people competing in different form of racing, so it is not a question of disrespect, but I've been basically driving all my life and especially in the last few years, the best cars in the world, in terms of a feeling that you can get out of driving a beautiful machine like the one I was driving. So for me to go back and race in some sort of car, right now that's the way I feel right now. It is not really what I want to do. I'd rather stay with my family. I rather enjoy my boat, you know, do things that obviously if I was busy racing, you know, I could not do. But this does not mean that maybe at the end of the year I will not do something like that if the occasion comes along. If you ask me: Alex, would you compete again at the top of motor racing like you were before, Champ Cars, for instance? Well, there's two aspects. One is purely technical, could I do that. And maybe if they would change the rule a little bit because power brakes, for instance, is not allowed in single seated cars, but if they would change the rule for me, then, you know, then I could see myself driving with only my hands, and therefore, I could probably do that and probably very well because you have much more sensitivity, I find out, in your hands than you do have in your feet. Can I do it myself? Well, the desire is still there, but quite frankly, this accident that I had a change in all my relatives, all my family around me a lot. It didn't change me at all - not one bit. I have the same attitude towards motor racing which is a dangerous activity, but my result was just a result of -- my accident was just a result of fate. So I wouldn't be scared to drive again. I would only be excited to do it again. But I have great resolve behind me, a lot of trophies, is it really worth to jeopardize the quiet of my family, you know, I don't know. It is something that I will find out along the way.

Q. Zanardi!

ALEX ZANARDI: My friend, how are you doing?

Q. Good, Alex. Hey, the last time we talked you were thinking we were just talking about some of the things you were looking at to take the place of running everyday and we were talking about rowing and different things. Have you come up with some different ways to keep active and that you enjoy?

ALEX ZANARDI: Swimming. Now that the good season is coming, I do swim, and I do different activities, you know, besides the sea is big enough for nobody to notice a strange human being without legs going up and down the water. (Laughs). I have to say that it's, you know, whatever you put it, it's pretty embarrassing to go into a swimming pool and take your legs off and jump into the water and especially the kids, they tend to watch you like you were a strange kind of sort of animal. So it's easy for other people to say: What do you care, come on, but it's not that easy for me. So the sea, it's actually much better because I can go down and hunt some fish and, you know, I do walk a lot with my prosthetic legs, and I try to do as much exercise as I can. This is actually really very, very important for me because the more I walk, the more I keep my muscle up to good size and the more consistent it is my, you know, my feel on the prosthetical legs because if you let your muscle go and lose size, then everyday you are to change the molds that you wear, the stump, how you call it, and so, you know, I try to do my part. That's why I say things are going pretty well. Actually today I was working on my boat and then I came out and I found out that I was coming home for this call, and I realized I had a flat tire. So I tried this new exercise, change my own tire. Which I didn't know I could do it before but now I do.

Q. Morris will be proud of you knowing that you are a mechanic.

ALEX ZANARDI: Only took me 15 minutes to get the tire out of the back of the car, and do everything.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk -- there was really a good article in Sports Illustrated about you. Have you had a chance to talk directly with Steve or Terry?

ALEX ZANARDI: Yeah, I do talk to them every once in a while, and obviously the conversation normally is obviously related to how things are with me, with what I am doing. They want to know my progress. I guess they feel like my parents, my second parents because they must know that they saved my life, you know, and really great to them, but to all the safety group that CART has at their service which is great, for the drivers, I think, they did a superb job. Certainly I did my part reaching the hospital with only one liter of blood left, but man, I mean, they did a miracle. They did everything right, and that's why I am here talking to you guys.

Q. I just have one question, sounds like you have kind of ruled out coming back as a driver, but have you given any thought to possibly pursuing an ownership, maybe owning a team in some series?

ALEX ZANARDI: No. I don't think so. Owning a team is certainly not my business. (Laughs) I do not have the determination and the self-discipline it takes to do that. I am only good for big effort that doesn't last very long. If I have to get up every morning at the same time, and ask myself what do I have to do and be very consistent in something, I mean, that's not what I am good for. Therefore, you know, as a driver, I think I was sometime good enough to put some good results, and I was very passionate for what I was doing, developing the car, and everything. Owning a team, I wouldn't be successful. If I would, it would only be luck. So (laughs) I don't count on luck to try to succeed.

Q. Great to hear your voice, Alex.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you, Steve.

Q. Just wondered are we going to see you any time soon? Do you have any plans to try to get to a race any time in the near future?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, you know, you pose the question in the sense that I always change my plan. First I was talking to a friend and I said to him that I was trying to go to Long Beach and for some reason that appeared on the CART web site, and so it created a lot of expectations from people that love me and they still have good feelings for me and they want to see me. I want to come to a race. I want to come to America. I don't want to wait for the series to come over to Europe because I would miss a lot of the people that are my friends that they would not go there, so the answer is yes. I haven't yet planned. The other problem is that during my accident my son was here at home for more than one month and he was partly questioning in his mind what happened, and why dad and mommy weren't coming home. Now every time we go away he's very, very scared, we're going to go away for long, although he's obviously growing and he's understanding things, but he's -- it's kind of inevitable that when you have something like what I had, it put everything upside-down, you know, and so I am trying to reorganize my life and I will certainly cut a space to come to America, even if it's not easy for me but I want to come and my wife wants to come too because she's also really grateful to all the people that have been so helpful right after the accident. And there were many, basically everybody in the CART community, so we want to make this trip. I still don't know when, but we want to make one.

Q. I hesitate to bring this up, I am wondering, No. 1 of what things you remember from that day, if anything and No. 2 if you have ever seen a replay of the accident itself?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, I don't remember much. The only thing I remember was -- of that day actually drivers (sic) were in production, I was kidding with Tommy just before the race. I don't remember a single lap of the race itself, so....I don't know. And then it goes back to when I opened my eyes, and my wife was there next to me to tell me what had happened. I did watch many times the replay of the accident. I actually got a copy from the close circuit video, you know, the one that the circuit has which stays on me even after the accident. It's pretty straight forward actually, and you know, at the beginning I mean, I can see that I was opening my shield, my helmet and then trying to undo my belt, and then, you know, so there was a time in which I must have been awake and I must have realized you know, what had happened. I must have said, man, it's going to be tough to fix this one (laughs), but I don't remember anything of that. I don't know if it was because of all the blood I lost, or if it is just human nature that when it is too bad it tells you, you know, we're going to erase that information. I don't know.

Q. Again it's great to hear from you. Look forward to seeing you at the racetrack.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you, Steve. Look forward to seeing you too.

Q. Thanks for taking the time today?

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you, thank you.

Q. I guest first question I have is what kind of car are you driving?

ALEX ZANARDI: It's a BMW, can I say it? Free advertising.

Q. Maybe you will get another free one out of it.

ALEX ZANARDI: I actually had to pay for it but anyway -- I got a good discount. No, it's a BMW, it's a Touring 5 Series, Touring. I thought it was very practical car for my needs and in fact it is -- but I am actually changing it because the seat is too low, you know, like from the floor of the car, and so when I set my -- the prosthetic legs has a little edge which tends to hurt a little bit of a -- I have been in the car more than two hours, or so. So I am actually switching to a four-wheel drive big car on which the seat is much higher from the floor of the car and so it will be for me like sitting almost on a chair, much more, and that's why I am doing that change because it's much, much more comfortable for me. It's still a BMW. I am buying an X5.

Q. One of the things I guess I am interested in is what, through this whole experience, you said you haven't changed much, but what have you learned about yourself, if anything?

ALEX ZANARDI: That I am a troublemaker. (Laughs). I don't know. Maybe I just don't ask that question to myself. Man, I mean, there's days where I am very miserable, you know, and I keep thinking, you know, if I had my legs, and doing this and that. But even when I had these days, I still do things, so -- today -- there's always a good side and a bad said in everything. Like I was talking to Robin Miller earlier on and telling him that I had a flat tire when I came out of my boat today. At the beginning I was kind of sweating. I said, man, I didn't need this one. But then I changed that pattern so I was very proud of myself, I was all alone and I changed the tire on my own, and I didn't know whether I could do it before, so was very, very proud. Whereas if I would have had my legs, feelings would only be, you know, bad luck that I have a flat tire. Everybody can change a tire, right, but not everybody that has be amputated on both legs could say he has done that. So once I had done that I was satisfied. That's the same thing that I feel when I go out and I walk for three kilometers, or this is the same thing that I feel when I can walk without the cane and I can do everything, and I have a house in Italy to where we went the other week, and I said -- I was there with my friends and I said I am going to try to walk in the garden without the cane. We have a big garden. They said, yeah, yeah, they thought I was kidding because there's actually a step to go down from the house. I just went and that was it. I took the step and then I walk on the grass and I came back and they were all amazed because I was walking on the grass without the cane. Now, for everybody that has a little bit of experience with amputees, it's really tough because you have no joints basically. The only things are your hip, the knees are not there, the heels are not there, so it's really difficult. But I did it. So it was a big, big satisfaction. For me this is sort of a new life, right, and every day that I do something new it's a little win. I am the only crowd. There's no crowd like when I won Long Beach, you know, passing with two laps to go and taking the lead with two laps to go at Cleveland, but still it's an achievement for me. It's a progress. I am moving forward. It doesn't matter, you know, my base, my start went down much, much -- to a much lower point compared to where it was before. But I am still climbing up. I am fighting and every time achieve a result I realize that I am fighting; that I am improving, and so it's a reason for me to smile.

Q. Another thing is, has there been anyone who has been especially important to you during this whole recovery period, any of the drivers, or anything like that that you have drawn strength from that have been especially encouraging?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, everyone had a smile for me was in Portland. Obviously it was great for me to feel so many people so close to me. I know, for instance, Jimmy Vasser was there really long and I could read his eyes, I could read in his eyes terrible pain in terms of, he was hurt. He didn't want, you know, his good friend Alex to be in that situation. And Tony as well and many other drivers who were there, I mean, I told to P. T., Paul Tracy on the phone, and his voice was like, you know, he was going to try to cry and many other drivers, Alex Tagliani himself was actually very hard for me to try to pick him up because, you know, I wanted him to feel totally free from any responsibility. I mean, he doesn't have any responsibility in the accident, but I mean, I just came to realize that I had a lot of friends; I have a lot of people that love me. Obviously my wife is very important, very important because in all this time she never watch me with that look that means "I am sorry" or that means "Poor you." She always looked me in the eyes straight and said: "I know you are going to do it" and as a proof of that, while everybody was doubting that I would survive and even if I would have survived I would have been just, you know, probably hurt in my brain, or not able to move my limbs at all, or that maybe my kidneys wouldn't have worked, all the sort of troubles that 99 times out of 100 somebody that has gone through what I have, has, well, while everybody was telling her that she had to pray, she called BMW and ordered me the car with manual controls because she knew I was going to want to drive the car the very next day I would get out of the hospital. And so when I got out of the hospital my car was there sitting for me. And that tells you which kind of reaction my wife had, what was going through her brain while she had her husband lying in a hospital bed in a coma. That's her, and I am very, very great to have such a woman on my side.

Q. The Sports Illustrated article made quite -- reference to Ashley Judd being there with your wife at the time, and I am wondering you said that everybody around you -- the attitude of everybody else around you changed. Who was important to your wife during this entire period?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, actually my wife and I am not going to make her very popular because she always said that the Americans, they smile a lot but they don't really mean it, and she actually came to understand that the Americans they smile a lot and they really mean it. And the heart that everybody showed you in the circumstances which is just unbelievable. Ashley, you are right, she was very, very close to Daniella and she was basically next to her every minute, and every minute that Daniella wanted her to be there and so she was very, very helpful. But many other people, you know, many other people, and that's why I want to come to the states and see all these friends that I have.

Q. The one thing I want to ask you you said your relatives have changed more than you. In what way do you notice that?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, you know, they probably whenever I mention, you know, could I go back to race with any sort of car, they turn white and they don't move a single muscle in their body anymore. I just guess it's sort of a very, very natural reaction out of somebody that has lived everything bad of the accident I had and that's very, very scared that something like this could happen again. So I would just assume that if I would ever go back and race on an oval again, they would be terrified for me to do that.

Q. There were times when you said you get depressed. Obviously that's definitely understandable. During those times do you ever think back, God, I am just lucky to be in the situation that I am right now, could be a helluva lot worse?

ALEX ZANARDI: Yeah, obviously you can't -- that helps, but on the other end you cannot just simply say, you know, I am lucky, I am lucky to be here. I mean, that's -- this is what everybody keeps telling you, but you know -- it could always be worse, yes. I guess when I go there in the center, when I do my rehabilitation I look at the people with only one leg and I actually envy them because I'd love to have one leg. I guess the ones that only have one leg, they envy the ones that they are only missing one leg below the knee, and on and on. (Noise in the background) That's my son that's joining the press conference. (Laughs) And so I guess you have to look at your own problems. You have to try to improve your own situation and sometime along the way there's times where you cannot do what you would want and so you get a little disappointed. Not really depressed, kind of disappointed. And I guess it's normal. At the beginning you can help that by saying I could have lost my life, I could have -- I could have lost more than two legs; I could have had some sort of consequence, but after sometime you start to say, man, I wish I had my legs back, it would be much easier. But most of the time I say that smiling. I am not -- I know that I am a lucky guy. I know that that after an accident like the one I had, you know, only one guy out of a thousand can really go back home and still live. And I am that one. So I am totally aware of that. But on the other end, sometimes I tend to sweat. Having said that, for instance, I haven't had drop one single tear of cry after my accident. Maybe if I could cry sometime it would help. But I am not -- I don't think I am a tough guy, I just -- I just have a very good relationship with life in general, and therefore, I can still see a lot of positives in my life. I often get asked the question, oh, your son must have been very, very important for your motivation to keep going or your wife or the people that love you. Yeah, they are very, very important, but they are not important for my motivation. My motivation for the man I am, my motivation it's to be alive. That's more than sufficient for to fight and try to get better again than the fact that I have a son and a great family is a huge plus, but it's not that if I wouldn't have what a great son or that great family, I would now kill myself because I wouldn't see any reason to live, you know, it's truly the opposite.

Q. Has your relationship with your son changed at all because I notice that you said kids sometimes have a hard time reacting to certain things like This, have you noticed has he changed at all?

ALEX ZANARDI: No.

Q. Alex?

ALEX ZANARDI: You finally got a hold of me.

Q. Yeah, you are a tough guy to get a hold of.

ALEX ZANARDI: (Laughs).

Q. Tell Daniella I had to have Tony make me a cappucino. Question for you. Have you had time to watch what is going on in open-wheel racing in the states and I wanted to know what your take on the future of open-wheel racing is in U.S. form of open-wheel racing?

ALEX ZANARDI: Yeah, I mean, obviously I am obviously always tuned to any form of race, and especially with what happens in America, either Champ Cars or IRL or NASCAR, you know, I have the possibility to watch that through the satellite and I actually watched the Indy 500 the other day and it's good. It looks like IRL is certainly gaining power, but unfortunately Champ Cars is actually losing a little bit. And I really hope that Mr. Pook can turn it around and I wish him the best because CART, it's a great series, and this war, it's just sad. I mean, I am not the first one to say what I am saying, but the cars that I drove in all my years in America is by far the best car I have ever driven. I am not saying the one I drove for Chip or the one I drove for Mo, that kind of car, that kind of chassis with that kind of turbocharged engine, with that kind of chemistry between power and drift, that kind was just fantastic. And you know, if you would have to have Olympic games for motor racing, that's the kind of car that would have to be picked because that's the kind of car that would allow everybody to be, more or less, in the same situation and so that's what out of motor racing you could really call the closest thing to sport, pure sport. Formula 1 is not sport. Formula 1 is only intense competition between teams where the competition is really the reserve, the technology. Because nobody could win if they wouldn't have a Ferrari or a McLaren or a Williams, you know, and with having Champ Cars, everybody could win a race and still at an amazingly high level with cars that are competing and making -- producing a super exciting show. Unfortunately this is not sufficient because this message has to be sent out to the fans in a way that the fans can really understand that and I think in the past few years message was sent out in the wrong way. The series was not advertised in the best possible way, and so that's why you know, the interest has gone down because quite frankly, I think CART could have survived the loss of the Indy 500. When I came in 1996, the interest, especially over here in Europe, was incredibly high and again, you know, technically speaking there's nothing wrong and there's no reasons why this series could be well known around the world; not only in the United States. So, to answer your question, I watch everything, and I hope there's a lot of fans will watch and still watch IRL, CART, NASCAR, everything, because it only takes a remote control and you can watch everything. Not only one series.

Q. Thanks, Alex. I will keep trying you next week.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you.

Q. You talked about the inspiration and the friendship that you had. We had Jimmy Vasser on Race Line radio not long ago and he talked about what a tremendous inspiration you had been to him and to all of your friends. And the fans as well. Just talk a little bit about some of the support that you have had from the fans because I know the mail you have been getting and the emails have probably just been overwhelming; talk about some of the support you have had and the good wishes from the fans you have had from up there?

ALEX ZANARDI: Actually there's a story in the CART web site that David Phillips wrote when he came here last week just before the Monaco Grand Prix, there at the morning in which I turned the first check that with the first amount of money that the Alex Zanardi Foundation has been able to raise, thanks to the support of the fans, mainly, and thanks to the support of a lot of people, especially in the CART community. While I was able to raise quite a lot of money for the first six months of existence of this foundation, $85,000 which I donate to another foundation because obviously my foundation was at the beginning. This is only the very beginning. I still have not precise objective, whether instead the foundation, called the EMAD (phonetic), which is the foundation that Prince Albert is running, and which was found, which was made by his mother, Princess Grace, and they have precise objectives. One of their objectives was to complete a school and the first assistive pediatric center that they are building for kids in Madagascar and with the money that I donate them they are going to be able to finish all that. So this is a very exciting thing I have been involved with and this was only thanks to the support of all the people that were in touch with what happened to me and they love me. So now that I can see -- now that I see I can do something like this, I am actually going to get even more involved. I have been on television in the recent months, more than the prime minister really in Italy. So what I have started to do because I was feeling so busy that at one point I said, that's it, I can't carry on like this. And so I said I am going to try to sell myself, at least if it's got to be a job at least I want to be paid. And all the money that I made I just turned it into the foundation. And I have been able to raise some good money myself. So this is actually an exciting thing which is not really costing me much, and I have been able to help somebody. People, I guess, the fact that I was a little popular before my accident, you know, and draw a lot of attention from the media, the fact that I kept smiling had increased this attention because people couldn't believe that a guy that lost both his legs had some reasons to smile. And so that interest continued. That's why I have been on television and in the papers very, very often. That gives me also the chance to relate with people in a better way because now when I see somebody, you know, they know which kind of reaction I had already even if they hadn't seen me after the accident because they have read the magazines so they have seen me on television. And when I bump into them, they always pat my back and they you know, they kind of cheer me and they say, man, you know, you are really something else, you are doing really well, and whatever -- in any case, they welcome me with a smile, if you understand what I am saying, which helps me much, much more than, you know, than somebody that comes there and says, ooh, I am sorry, Alex, sorry what happened to you, whatever. And then it's me I have to cheer this guy up because I say, no, it's not that bad, come on, look, I can also dance, I do this and I do that. Because I don't want to waste any time, you know, with the sad face or whatever. I like to smile and I like people to smile back to me. So this whole deal of this popularity at least it helped me a lot in that respect.

Q. A lot of people sure do miss your smile, Alex. Any way that you can get up to Canada you have scores and scores of fans in your country. If you are ever in Vancouver or the new race in Montreal you better stop and talk to us because you have a lot of people who love you on this side of the boarder.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you.

MERRILL CAIN: We did have a couple of e-mail questions of people who couldn't join us on the teleconference today. Do you have a web site that deals with the charitable effort, a way for people to donate money.

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, actually I am going to -- well this is a good opportunity. I was going to call CART and try to get all the information sort of connection, a link with the EMAD web site, and counting on the fact that my friends of CART are going to be probably excited with that idea, I can just welcome everybody to stay tuned and wait for that link which will take you into the EMAD web site and probably tell you the full story. Because I actually want to have, you know, pictures on the web site with what has been done with -- where the money has gone and I want all the people that have been able to help me a little bit, to know exactly where the money went.

MERRILL CAIN: We'll look forward to seeing if we can get a link hooked up with CART.COM. We'll go from there.

Q. Great to be with you today. Best of luck to you.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you, Bill.

Q. Good to hear your voice.

ALEX ZANARDI: Thank you.

Q. When you pulled that drive that made you a Champion in racing, is it that same inner drive and competitive nature that you had that's allowed you to overcome what has happened to you?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, I don't think so. I actually think it's true the other way around. I guess -- I don't think -- I think being a man of sport for a very long time certainly tuned my temper, it tuned my character a little bit, has trained me to hold my emotions and act in a very rational way, and take decision very, very rapidly as you would have to do when you would drive a race car at a really high speed. But I guess if you get good, good results, it's because somehow you have the ability to do a better job than other people sometimes, you know, people that have -- they have themself a particular ability to compete in that event. So I think that you are correct that it's strong enough to succeed in doing a better job than a very selected opposition. And so that, I think with the same -- in the same respect, you know, that's -- you know, it's not that I am reacting this way that I am trying to overcome my misfortune, and what I have done in sports helps me. I think that's my character, and if it's somehow quality what you are trying to describe, it's the same quality that's helping me today that has helped me in the past win some races. But I can assure you that I have a lot of weak points and a lot of bad habits too. (Laughs) I am not a perfect man. I only try to do my best.

Q. There are things within myself that limit my ability to do things and sometimes I get discouraged and I look to other people or to other things in my life to maybe say okay that I am better here. Do you feel that sometimes do you go through that?

ALEX ZANARDI: Absolutely. Yeah, many, many times I look at other people and I say, you know, not necessarily to -- in the sense that if he's done it I can do it too, but even in the sense that you know, if somebody, if he acts in a certain way when everybody seems to go wrong, then you can take that as an example, it gives me strength, it gives me, you know, inspiration, and yeah, I do look at other people a lot, and I get a lot of help.

Q. Finally some believe that the good Lord put certain people in certain positions because he wants that person to be an example or that person to have a special place in life. Do you believe that?

ALEX ZANARDI: I don't know. Not really. I think the good Lord is really busy doing other things, and in this life, in this world, on this little planet we have to find our own way sometimes, just bad luck, so some obstacles along the way, and it's not necessarily -- it's not always by ability that we surpass these obstacles. Sometimes we surpass these obstacles just because we're lucky enough to turn the wheel before the obstacle comes on our way, and sometimes we actually are steering onto it, you know, you can't predict life. And yes, I do believe in God. I do believe there has got to be something that ultimately will be there to judge what we have done in this life. But I don't think, you know, I don't think that's what happened to me was so to make people think about it. It was just bad luck, and you know, that's my conclusion.

Q. Thank you, Alex.

ALEX ZANARDI: My pleasure.

MERRILL CAIN: That will just about wrap it up for our teleconference today. A CART transcript will be coming out shortly. We can't thank you enough for joining us on today's call.

ALEX ZANARDI: Can I say a final thing?

MERRILL CAIN: You sure can.

ALEX ZANARDI: I just want to congratulate Paul Tracy in winning the Indy 500 because in my heart he's the one that won the race, and this is another example to testify how, you know, you got to be lucky sometimes to win. But he did not have the best car, but he was just carrying his car around at every corner and driving the hell out of it, and you know, as much as I like Helio, I wanted Paul -- I wanted to see Paul win the race and unfortunately it didn't happen, but it was not certainly not his fault and in my heart, I think he's the winner.

MERRILL CAIN: I am sure a lot of people share your opinions on that, Alex. Appreciate you sharing them with us. We all are looking forward to seeing you at a CART event this season. We hope we do get the chance to see you out there. We wish you the best of luck. Really enjoyed spending time with you this afternoon.

ALEX ZANARDI: It was my pleasure.

MERRILL CAIN: CART gets back into action with the Miller Lite 250 at the Milwaukee Mile this weekend. Also marks CART's season debut on CBS broadcast schedule to get underway Sunday at 12:30 P.M. eastern time. Thanks to all who participated in today's call. Have a very good afternoon.

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