Auberlen, Zanardi inducted into Walk of Fame – Press Telegram

We started the festivities this Sunday Long Beach Grand Prix Acuraas usual, it was Thursday the induction ceremony of the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on the west side of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center near Pine Ave.

Two riders – Redondo Beach native Bill Auberlen and great Italian Alex Zanardi – joined 33 others whose medallions adorn the sidewalk there.

Auberlen, 53, is an IMSA driver who has won more races (63) in that series than anyone else. He has twice won the class at Long Beach in 2013 (GT) and 2015 (GTLM) and takes nine places in the top 5 in 14 outings since 1990. He has also twice won the class at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

He’s still active and will be running the streets of Long Beach this weekend.

Jim MichaelianCEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association, sang his praises.

“As of today, Bill Auberlen holds the record for most wins in the history of IMSA at 63,” Michaelian said, as spectators faced temperatures in the mid-90s, late in the morning. “That’s a phenomenal achievement, especially when you think about how many great pilots have passed through the ranks of IMSA over the years.”

Auberlen was not shy about what induction meant to him.

“First of all, what a total honor to be included on the Long Beach Walk of Fame,” he said. “There are no words to express my gratitude for this honor. I am utterly humbled; it is madness. Who would have thought?”

Auberlen recalled his first Grand Prix test.

“It was 1975 and I was right there,” he said, pointing to Pine Avenue. “I was 7 years old, I was on this track and I had a tape recorder in my little hand and I recorded the sounds of all the race cars.

“And then I would take him home and listen to these sounds. And if we played ‘Name That Car’, in two notes it could be like that. “

Auberlen spoke as he could hardly believe how things were.

“At the age of 7, I couldn’t even have a dream big enough that I would somehow get into a race car on this beautiful, symbolic track,” he said. “This shows that even the biggest dreams come true.”

Zanardi, 55, won in Long Beach in 1997 and 1998 during the CART race days. He also won the series championship those two years.

After a brief return to Formula One, where he ran between 1991 and 1994, in 1999, he returned to CART in 2001. In race number 15 of the season, he suffered an accident at the American Memorial in Germany, which resulted in amputation. of his legs.

Undaunted, Zanardi returned to racing less than two years later, driving a car with controls, and won four World Touring Car Championships between 2005 and 2009. It wasn’t done. Zanardi finally won the gold medal in manual cycling at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.

Zanardi is recovering from a manual cycling accident in 2020 in Italy and was not present on Thursday. Former teammate Jimmy Vasser, also a member of the Walk of Fame, accepted for him.

IndyCar owner Chip Ganassi was Zanardi’s boss during his first three seasons in CART.

“Alex is the kind of person who has put together a life that 10 men could call lives; united him in one life, ”said Ganassi, who praised Zanardi’s ability to move forward after losing his legs.

“The point I want to convey to everyone this morning is that I think I talked about Zanardi and his accident, his legs, I think I talked to him once about it and then his life went from there,” Ganassi said. “We never mention his legs or the lack of legs again.”

The medallions embedded in the concrete have been delayed, so the “pseudo-medallions” – so called by Michaelian – were unveiled after each driver was consecrated.

Auberlen, Zanardi inducted into Walk of Fame – Press Telegram Source link Auberlen, Zanardi inducted into Walk of Fame – Press Telegram

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