INDIANAPOLIS (April 12, 2012) – Any Indianapolis 500 car owner will tell you that he or she couldn’t make it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway without the help of key partners.
For Sam Schmidt, that statement couldn’t be more true than in 2012.
Indiana-based Braun Corporation, through its BraunAbility brand, announced today it is sponsoring a Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in this year’s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The No. 99 BraunAbility/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car will be a team car to the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car to be driven by Frenchman Simon Pagenaud in this year’s edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
The driver of the No. 99 BraunAbility/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will be named soon.
Based in Winamac, Ind., BraunAbility is an industry leader in personal mobility, including the manufacturing of wheelchair vans, wheelchair lifts and other mobility accessories. The company, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was founded by Ralph Braun in 1972.
Braun was diagnosed at a young age with spinal muscular atrophy. By age 15, he was unable to walk. Frustrated and constantly exhausted from using his bulky and heavy wheelchair, Braun created the world’s first electric scooter in his cousin’s Indiana farm shop. He went on to outfit an old postal Jeep with hand controls and a hydraulic lift so he could have safe transportation to and from work. He has been designing accessible vehicles ever since.
“This relationship with the Braun Corporation is more than just a sponsorship to me, ” said SSM owner Sam Schmidt. “Ralph Braun has been an inspiration to me since my accident, showing constant drive and determination to build a company of over 800 employees that delivers life-changing equipment to people with disabilities, including myself. We have become quite close, and I have never once heard him complain about his situation. He’s a firm believer that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Schmidt was injured in a testing crash at Walt Disney World Speedway in January 2000, just a few months after earning his first IndyCar victory. The accident left Schmidt a quadriplegic, but it hardly slowed him. He will enter six cars in races in May at the Speedway. In addition to the two cars entered in the Indianapolis 500, SSM will have four Firestone Indy Lights cars racing in the Firestone Freedom 100.
“Racing has always been one of the great loves in my life,” said Ralph Braun. “Another is giving people with mobility challenges a way to get on the road to fully experience their lives. Bringing those two loves together at the Indy 500 fulfills a lifelong dream for me.”
Braun recently wrote a book on his life called Rise Above, an inspirational autobiography based on the age-old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Rise Above can be purchased at major bookstores and Amazon.com and is available for Kindle, Nook and iBook.
“I can’t begin to express what it means to me personally to have Ralph sponsor one of our race cars in the Indianapolis 500 in May,” Schmidt said. “The fact May also happens to be National Mobility Awareness Month makes this extra special to me.”
Supported by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), the goal of National Mobility Awareness Month is to educate the public that people with disabilities can live an active, mobile lifestyle. Individuals with mobility issues, more than 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada, comprise the second-largest minority in the U.S. More than 6 million are veterans.
With five championships, SSM is the most successful team in the history of INDYCAR’s Firestone Indy Lights series. SSM won the 2004 championship with Thiago Medeiros, the 2006 title with Jay Howard, the 2007 title with Alex Lloyd, the 2010 title with J.K. Vernay and the 2011 title with Josef Newgarden.
In 2011, SSM also returned to the IZOD IndyCar Series full time. The team saw immediate success by winning the pole position for the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins Saturday, May 12. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” takes the green flag at Noon ET on Sunday, May 27.
About The Braun Corporation
The Braun Corporation is the largest manufacturer of wheelchair-accessible vans, ramps, and wheelchair lifts worldwide, enabling people with physical disabilities to regain mobility and lead active and independent lives. The company was founded in 1972 by Ralph Braun, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age and was unable to walk by the age of 15. The company offers the most diverse line of vehicle platforms in the industry. The corporation is based in Indiana, U.S.A. For more information, please visit www.braunability.com.
About Sam Schmidt Motorsports:
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) was established in 2001 and is owned by former driver Sam Schmidt, who was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after an accident during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. As a car owner, Schmidt fields cars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, and the Firestone Indy Lights championship. SSM is the most successful team in Firestone Indy Lights history with 47 race wins and five championships. In addition, SSM has qualified 12 cars in the Indianapolis 500 since 2001 and won the coveted Indy 500 pole in 2011. For more information, please visit www.samschmidtmotorsorts.com.
About National Mobility Awareness Month
National Mobility Awareness Month is the inaugural May celebration that encourages people with disabilities to enjoy active, mobile lifestyles. Founded in 1989 as a non-profit trade association, The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association sponsors the awareness month with the assistance of more than 600 mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers and driver rehabilitation specialists dedicated to expanding opportunities for people with disabilities. For updates on the awareness month and Local Heroes overcoming mobility issues, please visit NMEDA’s Facebook, Twitter or website.