Readers who clicked through yesterday to the ESPN-W story on Alex Zanardi's Paralympic Gold Medal, will remember this:
"He's a lion," said his former teammate, Jimmy Vasser. "He just never gave up."
...But by Wednesday, all that was forgotten. He said Vasser had called
him Tuesday night and promised him a car for the Indianapolis 500 -- if
he won the gold.
"I'll have to call him back tonight and say 'Jimmy. I got the gold medal!' ... How about the car?"
Well tonight I was looking at SpeedTV's website to find out what time P1 from Monza would be streaming LIVE, and I found this headline story on Zanardi and Vasser:
IndyCar: Ganassi, Vasser Discuss Joint Zanardi Indy 500 Effort
Wow, how cool would it be to see Pineapple Head run at the Brickyard in May? Zanardi never ran the 500 because of the Split. The Indy500 was co-opted by Tony George's upstart Indy Racing League (IRL) while Zanardi raced for Ganassi Racing in CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams)
I have no doubts that Alex could have won The 500 in a Ganassi car. I have no doubts that Alex could win The 500 in a Ganassi-Vasser car next year. Sure, winning The 500 isn't easy, but Alex just might pull it off...think Dan Wheldon in 2011, when the rookie leading the race, J.R. Hildebrand Jr. hit the wall in the final turn, of the final lap, and Wheldon, in a second tier car cruised to his second Indy 500 victory (2005 was Dan's first 500 victory)
Let's face it race fans, The Indy 500 needs a "shot in the arm". It's never fully recovered from the damage inflicted on it by Tony George and his IRL scheme. Zanardi has a Worldwide Fan Base, many of whom may be unaware of the diminished stature of The 500.
The Indianapolis 500 was once the Largest Single Day Sporting Event on the planet, and the Most Famous Motor Race in the World. I miss those days when every day in May, Indy lead the sportscast on every 6 O'Clock News from coast to coast, except when an Andretti, Unser or Foyt set a new Indy Lap Record and the story lead the 6 O'Clock News, period.
Zanardi and his Cinderella-Story Quest to drink the quart of milk in Victory Lane would go a long way to mitigate the loss of IndyCar's Danica Patrick to NASCAR, and to hoist Indy back to the top of racing's Parthenon where it belongs. Redemption plays well...even on television.
This is such great, happy news that I won't dilute it with the good news from the Reno Air Races. I'll talk about that Saturday.