Following in his father’s footsteps, Sam developed an unmeasured interest in motorsports. Sam had a goal to race in the Indianapolis 500. In 1997, he made his first IndyCar start which was followed by three consecutive Indianapolis 500 races where he netted his first victory from the pole at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1999, finishing the year fifth in series points.
In January of 2000, during testing in preparation for the season, Sam suffered a horrendous crash at Walt Disney World Speedway which rendered him a quadriplegic. Though no longer able to drive a racecar, Sam was still passionate about the sport. He founded Sam Schmidt Motorsports and in 2011 he established a full-time IndyCar team, where he kept his dream alive to one day win the race … not as a driver but as a team owner. His team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, has collected six wins, two Indianapolis 500 pole positions as well as three top-five finishes in the championship points standings.
Sam is also the founder of Conquer Paralysis Now, a foundation that funds global research and provides grants to organizations benefiting people with disabilities.
In 2014, he drove a Corvette Stingray re-engineered by Arrow Electronics over 100 mph around the iconic Indianapolis 500 Oval using a head array to steer and a bite plate to brake. Over the next 3 years, working with Arrow to advance the technology, he was able to reach 152 mph, participate in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and received the first ever semi-autonomous driver’s license.
In 2017, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by racing Mario Andretti in identical Corvettes and pushed the envelope even further when he topped out at 192 mph at Nellis Air Force Base. Sam’s since taken his kids around the streets of DC and his wife on a drive through the hills of San Francisco. Currently, he lives in Nevada with his wife Sheila and their two children, Savannah and Spencer.