Model Year: 2008Make: BMWModel: 335Style Name: Coupe IVehicle Trim: 335IBody Type: CoupeVehicle Type: CoupeExterior Color: Crimson RedInterior Color:
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Auto blogTue, 21 Jan 2014 11:30:00 EST
If there's ever been an inspirational story in the pantheon of motor racing history, surely it's that of Alessandro Zanardi. The Italian driver worked his way up the motor racing ladder, making it into Formula One and winning two CART championships for Chip Ganassi Racing back before the series re-merged into IndyCars. Tragedy struck in 2001 when he lost both his legs in a crash at the Lausitzring in Germany, but rather than accept his fate, Alex pushed on. Fitted with prosthetic limbs, he learned to drive a racing car with hand controls and got back in the driver's seat.
Zanardi drove for BMW in the European Touring Car Championship and then in the World Touring Car Championship that replaced it, landing on the podium several times despite his physical disadvantage. He left racing in 2009 to train for the Paralympics, winning two gold medals in London, but Alex apparently couldn't shake the racing bug. BMW modified one of its M3 DTM racers with hand controls for him to test later that year. And now he's returning to motor racing full time.
BMW has just announced that Zanardi will be driving a Z4 GT3 in the Blancpain Sprint Series, the successor to the FIA GT Series and short-distance counterpart to the Blancpain Endurance Series. The car has been modified with the hand controls the Bavarian automaker's racing department fitted to the aforementioned M3 DTM and will be fielded by the ROAL Motorsport team with which Alex challenged for the European Touring Car Championship last decade.
Is Better Than Ever Still Good Enough?
By now, all but the staunchest of traditionalists have moved past the shock and horror of seeing their favorite automotive brands branching into categories and segments that break with their previously accepted norms. In other words, you and I don't really care all that much if the BMW M3 is powered by an inline six or a V8, or whether it boasts a turbocharger, just so long as the end result is an awesome car. Similarly, we don't get all hot under the collar seeing that same M3 share space on the showroom floor with a brace of SUVs and crossovers... or, as BMW continues to insist, Sports Activity Vehicles.
Time, as they say, heals all wounds, and the BMW X5 has been around long enough, having first seen the light of day in 1999, that anyone offended by its existence has since gotten over it. Plus, the X5 is a legitimately nice vehicle to drive, offering such desirable qualities to family men and women as seating for up to seven, all-wheel drive and a commandingly tall view of the road. For the enthusiast set, the X5 serves up a taut chassis and powerful engine options.
One of the many perks of this job is, not surprisingly, the cars. It's relatively easy to snag the keys to a vehicle for a special occasion, whether that be for a road trip, tailgating or helping a friend move. And while sometimes the tailgating might happen with a Ford F-150 instead of a Range Rover and the road trip might be in a minivan rather than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, occasionally the stars align and a special vehicle arrives for an equally special time.
That's exactly how I found myself dressed to the nines and behind the wheel of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, a $135,375 (as-tested) rocket ship, en route to a rare multi-wedding weekend to celebrate with two pairs of my closest friends on the biggest day of their lives (a very special congratulations to Kara and Zach, and Laura and Andrew). Continuing with our nuptial theme, the M mechanicals and the 6 Series Gran Coupe body are a match made in heaven.