Sam returns to racing

Twenty years after a crash left him paralyzed, technology is helping former IndyCar driver Sam Schmidt return to racing.

Sam Returns to Racing

Despite his immobilizing injuries, former IndyCar driver Sam Schmidt returned to competitive racing in the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge, driving Arrow’s newest Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM). The SAM Car is a smart, connected racer that Sam operates using head controls and voice commands.

Sam bested more than a dozen able-bodied drivers in the two-day event, a national racing series for amateur drivers who modify street cars for competition. He finished 34th overall out of 42 entries and 12th overall in the Start/Stop event, which measures straight-line acceleration and braking.

The latest, upgraded SAM Car is a 2020 Corvette C8 Stingray with even more steering cameras to track Sam’s head movements more accurately, new safety features for higher performance and a right-sear driver’s position, making it easier for Sam to enter the vehicle via a lift.

Expanding Access

Since debuting the SAM Car in demonstration laps at the 2014 Indy 500, Sam has driven versions of the SAM Car on several road course tracks and the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. With a unique quadriplegic driver’s license, he has navigated public streets in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

Arrow’s SAM Car Project enables drivers with physical disabilities to experience mobility and independence again by driving with the power of technology. The solution that Arrow developed for the car is open to the developer and engineering communities, and it offers broader applications for independent living.

If you are able-bodied, technology makes life easier. But for people with disabilities it can be life-changing, giving them a level of independence they haven’t seen before.

– Sam Schmidt