IPL 500 Festival Parade names Sam Schmidt this year’s grand marshal


Sam Schmidt/CBS4 file image

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Sam Schmidt will headline this year’s IPL 500 Festival Parade.

Organizers said Schmidt will serve as the grand marshal of this year’s event. Schmidt made the announcement in St. Petersburg, Florida, Friday in conjunction with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Conquer Paralysis Now and the NTT IndyCar Series.

Schmidt was driving an IndyCar when he was injured during a crash in the 2000 season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway. He sustained a C-3/4/5 spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. He created the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation—now known as Conquer Paralysis Now—to raise money for research.

Despite the accident, Schmidt never lost his passion for racing and remained active in IndyCar as a team owner. He partnered with engineers from Arrow Electronics who helped develop a car that Schmidt could drive by using his head movements. In May 2014, Schmidt drove the Semi-Autonomous Motor Car (SAM Car) at IMS, eventually reaching a top speed of 107 mph.

He is the first quadriplegic in Nevada to have an active driver’s license, and hopes to continue developing the SAM Car with Arrow.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the last time Schmidt was driven in the parade as a driver; he’ll drive himself along the parade route this year using the SAM Car.

The 2019 IPL 500 Festival Parade is scheduled for Saturday, May 25, in downtown Indianapolis. You can learn more about the event here.

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