INDIANAPOLIS (February 21, 2019) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®, today announced that former IndyCar driver and current NTT IndyCar Series team owner and philanthropist, Sam Schmidt, will be interviewed by Bob Jenkins, the legendary voice of the Indy 500, at the 2019 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc. The event will be held on Saturday, May 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We’re thrilled to have Sam Schmidt join us for this year’s 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc.,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “Sam is a tremendous example of overcoming adversity and using innovative technologies to improve the livelihood of people with disabilities. Breakfast at the Brickyard guests will leave inspired by his story.”
Sam Schmidt was an IndyCar driver when he sustained a C-3/4/5 spinal cord injury while practicing for the 2000 season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway. He created the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) that year to raise funds for medical research, innovative equipment used for rehabilitation, and quality-of-life issues. SSPF, now Conquer Paralysis Now, is a leading authority on spinal cord injury research and treatment. They are backed by an international coalition of medical doctors, research scientists and business leaders who share a singular goal: Finding a cure for paralysis.
While he lost the use of his limbs, Schmidt never lost his will or his passion for racing. In 2013, Schmidt agreed to partner with a team of Arrow engineers who were committed to make his dream to drive again a reality. Together, a team of engineers and medical researches worked to modify a car to be safely driven by Sam’s head movement. On May 18, 2014, Sam took the Semi-Autonomous Motor Car (SAM) to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driving for the first time since his accident in 2000. He was able to reach 97 MPH, and later reached 107 MPH back at the IMS. Schmidt is the current co-owner of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He is also the only quadriplegic to have an active driver’s license, and is motivated to continue working with Arrow to further develop SAM.
“I’m excited to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc.,” said Sam Schmidt. “Racing will forever be a passion of mine, and I’m honored by the hard work and dedication of the SAM project team to allow me to continue to carry out that passion from the driver’s seat. I look forward to sharing my story with you all this May.”
Formerly called the Mayors Breakfast, this 500 Festival event was held in downtown Indianapolis for many years. In 2004 it was moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its name was changed to Breakfast at the Brickyard to reflect the new location. For more than 60 years, the event has continued the tradition of honoring Indiana’s mayors for their tireless work to improve communities around the state. This year, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett will host more than 70 Hoosier mayors from across the state who will gather to celebrate the month of May in Indiana.
The 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by Midwestern Engineers, Inc., attracts race fans, business and civic leaders from all corners of the state. During the event, attendees will enjoy a hearty Hoosier breakfast and hear from Sam Schmidt, as well as IMS and 500 Festival executives, before the announcement of the 500 Festival Queen Scholar. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to drive their car around the famed oval track at IMS (weather permitting) and tour the garages before enjoying the afternoon qualifying session for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
2019 Breakfast at the Brickyard tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, March 6. Individual tickets are $75 and corporate tables are $850. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets, you can fill out this form. For more information, visit 500Festival.com/breakfast or you can search #BrickyardBreakfast on social media.
Corporate partners of the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard are: Midwestern Engineers, Inc., Ice Miller, Business Furniture, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, WIBC, The Indianapolis Business Journal, Eufloric Events, and WISH-TV.
Conquer Paralysis Now funds scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances that lead us toward a cure – whether through positive advances or failures that help guide the next effort. Learn more at www.conquerparalysisnow.org.
About the 500 Festival
Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces more than 50 life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500® and foster positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $400 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit www.500festival.com, follow us on Twitter @500festival, or on Facebook.