This is the moment paralyzed IndyCar driver Sam Schmidt was able to race again despite not being to use his arms or legs.
“The fact that I'm steering it, I'm using the brake and the gas and going as fast as I want is, you know, exhilarating.”
Schmidt's ambition to be an IndyCar champion started at the age of 5.
And he achieved that, winning the Indy 500 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1999.
But months later a tragic crash left him paralyzed from the neck down.
"It was my passion my entire life and then this happens and it kind of turns things upside down. But about a year after the accident, we decided to start the team. And then about seven years ago, Arrow came along with this idea of building a car for somebody that can't use their arms and legs. And it was an amazing experience. Took about eight months to drive the first car at Indianapolis at 107 miles an hour. So we checked that box, and they want to keep going."
Schmidt worked with tech company Arrow Electronics to build this – the 'SAM Car' – SAM standing for 'semi-autonomous mobility.'
To accelerate and brake Schmidt uses his breath.
Infrared cameras detect his head motions to steer via a racing hat and sunglasses.
They integrate into a system that can motion-track the driver's subtle head movements in real time to move the wheels.
"What I didn't anticipate was this overwhelming feeling of normalcy because I was in control. And literally to that point in my life, there was really not a lot that I controlled. I needed help for everything."
The tech that he and Arrow are pioneering could have a wider impact on helping people with disabilities.
"Well, you know, it's that's just it: Arrow says the sky's the limit. So, frankly, booster rockets flying around here. They've already custom developed an exoskeleton in the last few months that I wore to my daughter's wedding. So, by far the best day in 21 years. And they just keep creating moments that are spectacular. And it's motivating me, it's motivating a lot of other people, excites the company as a whole, 18,000 employees globally, and it's great for the engineering staff to participate. So it just shows what they're capable of doing. And again... I hear they're selling tickets to the space station, maybe that's it!"