CXC Simulations, world leader in professional race simulation for the home, has collaborated with global tech-solutions provider Arrow Electronics, in providing a new system that will allow former IndyCar driver and quadriplegic Sam Schmidt to race against professional drivers for the first time in 15 years.
With the work of both CXC Simulations and Arrow Electronics, Schmidt was able to compete against the best in the country, but more so was able to be in a race environment that could only be achieved through the human spirit of innovation, ingenuity and determination. The event took place on Dec. 16 of this year, when iRacing hosted the fifth annual iRacing Pro Race of Champions. CXC Simulations had five pro-racers, including Schmidt, racing in its Motion Pro II simulators at their Los Angeles headquarters. The event was broadcasted live as professional drivers across different divisions competed at a virtual replication of Watkins Glen NASCAR Cup Course simultaneously.
In January of 2000, Schmidt suffered a near fatal accident while preparing for the then-upcoming IndyCar series, which left him without the ability to use his arms or legs. In 2001, despite being a quadriplegic, Schmidt became an Indy Lights car owner, then an IndyCar owner. His Indy Lights team holds the record for the most wins and championships in history and his Indy cars have won five victories against the powerful Penske, Ganassi and Andretti teams.
In 2013, the SAM (Semi-Autonomous Motorcar) Project was initiated by Arrow Electronics, headquartered in Centennial, Colorado. Arrow purchased a 2014 Corvette to Schmidt’s specifications and set about modifying it with new advanced control systems, which would allow Schmidt to proficiently drive a race car. In 2015, the SAM 2.0 system improved on the previous model by incorporating more sophisticated technology that also would allow for out-of-the-car training, not just for Schmidt, but eventually others.
CXC was able to integrate the highly-developed SAM 2.0 control systems’ infrared motion-sensing cameras that read movement of the driver’s “hat” to steer, the breath-sensing “mouthpiece” to accelerate and brake, and the computers and sophisticated software that convert their output to car control actions with CXC’s custom engineered hardware and software for the Motion Pro II simulator.
“It was a natural for us,” said Chris Considine, CEO and founder of CXC. “The challenge of interesting new technologies, the chance to work with very high-tech partners and the fact that it concerned a kind of driver training — what we’re known for — was perfectly in line with the core interests and principles of our company.”
CXC Simulations, with the help of Arrow Electronics and online racing platform iRacing, agreed to have Schmidt compete in the fifth annual iRacing Pro Race of Champions.
“It’s an honor for not only me, but also my entire team,” said Considine. “I am humbled that I have been able to contribute to Sam being able to essentially complete the impossible by racing again. This is a huge step forward in technology, but even more so for how innovation will make huge strides in changing the lives of those affected by paralysis.”
Professional drivers that will taking part in the competition include: Timmy Hill, Trevor Hopwood, Alex Gurney, Chris Dymond, Spencer Pumpelly, Tommy Kendall, Nick Tandy, Dominic Cicero, Ron Capps, Michael Self Benny Simonsen, Michael Lewis, Joe Osborne, Barry Waddell, Igor Sushko, Stefan Wilson, Scott McGlaughlin, Bradley Philpot, Kyle Kaiser, Justin Bell and Ryan Eversley. Drivers will be in the BMW Z4 GT3 car.