Sam Schmidt Awarded 2011 International Motorsports Industry Achievement Award

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Sam Schmidt, an IndyCar racer who sustained a spinal cord injury during a test ride prior to the 2000 racing season, received the second annual International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) Achievement Award in Indianapolis in December. Chip Ganassi, winner of the first IMIS Achievement Award last year, presented Schmidt with the honor, along with Randy Bernard, president of IndyCar, and Chris Paulsen, president of C&R Racing and a founder of IMIS.

"The International Motorsports Industry Show is for hardcore racers," Paulsen said, according to a news release. "Sam is the definition of a hardcore racer. After his driving career ended unexpectedly, he became one of the most successful and respected team owners in IndyCar. He's given a lot of young drivers their first break into IndyCar racing, and his record in Firestone Indy Lights competition is unmatched. It's an honor to present him with the second International Motorsports Industry Show Achievement Award."

Schmidt, of Henderson, Nev., won the 1999 IndyCar race in Las Vegas. Prior to the 2000 racing season, he sustained a spinal cord injury at the C-3/4/5 vertebrae.

In 2001, Schmidt formed Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM), which has won 46 races and five Indy Lights championships. For the last nine years, Schmidt has also fielded cars in the Indianapolis 500.

Following his accident, Schmidt focused on creating a broader awareness of spinal cord injuries and research. He formed the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) to raise money to increase awareness of spinal cord injury/paralysis, for medical research to develop cures and effective therapeutic treatments, and to provide newly injured patients and their families with support and information.

"This is a tremendous honor for me to win the International Motorsports Industry Show Achievement Award," Schmidt said. "It's very humbling and is really an award for all of our employees who work so hard to build championship-winning racecars."