Sam Schmidt, a former driver in the Indy Racing League who was paralyzed in a crash in 2000, is returning to competitive racing at this weekend’s Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge event at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Schmidt will be driving a Chevrolet Corvette modified by Arrow Electronics that Schmidt can operate safely and independently. Known as the Arrow SAM Car – SAM stands for semi-autonomous mobility – Schmidt controls the Corvette using head controls and voice commands. Sensors on an Arrow-designed headset that Schmidt wears connect to infrared cameras mounted on the dashboard and detect his head motions to steer. A sip-and-puff device enables him to accelerate and brake using his breath.
The car was prepared by Speedway Motors, located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In preparation for the upcoming race, Team Speedway took the Arrow SAM Car to the chassis dynamometer for tuning and replaced the plugs and wires to ensure it is race-ready.
“Using a chassis dynamometer we were able to determine why it wasn’t running correctly in a controlled environment where we could see the tune and data under load rather than having to go 160mph to log any data,” said Bill Schneider, Team Speedway manager. “After multiple dyno pulls, changing the tune we were able to reach just over 700HP.”
Team Speedway will also serve as Schmidt’s pit crew on-site at the event which will take place Oct. 9-11 at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.