One of the highlights of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend came not during any of the on-track scheduled sessions themselves, but in a single-lap run by Sam Schmidt in a modified 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray.
As he did in Indianapolis last year on pole day Sunday, Schmidt got behind the wheel of the SAM Car he controls only with his head – operating the car with his head and mouth only. It’s a design feat pulled off by Arrow Electronics, which initially came to Schmidt with the idea.
Sunday in Long Beach marked the first time that this vehicle designed for quadriplegic drivers navigated the twists, turns and concrete barriers of a streets course. But Schmidt pulled it off with aplomb.
“It’s basically a miracle to even be involved in the project,” Schmidt said, via IndyCar.com. “It was sort of the honeymoon effect going to Indy and getting to 107 (mph); basically checking everything off the list. But that was a seven-month process to get there. Then it was a step back and say, ‘Hey, we want to keep going and take it to the next level,’ and clearly that was make the acceleration and deceleration more in control, more intuitive.
“Then how are we going to challenge ourselves, and the challenge is to go left and right in an instantaneous fashion.”
Schmidt’s preparation for Long Beach was chronicled in an NBC Nightly News segment last night, where Harry Smith spoke to Schmidt during a test session at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
The video clip is above; photos from testing and then Sunday at Long Beach are linked below.