Alex Zanardi has been transferred to a specialized neuro-rehabilitation center after undergoing brain surgery early Sunday to fix a metal rod inserted when he broke his spine in a 1997 freak racing accident.
“He is in good spirits,” Zanardi’s wife wrote in a message posted to Facebook late Wednesday. “He is acting and talking normally and he responded to everything.”
Medical personnel at Marina del Rey Community Hospital were planning to move Zanardi to UCLA Medical Center.
Logan Freed, the quadriplegic driver from Nadeau-Willy, Mo., who was in Zanardi’s car during the crash at Nurburgring, was left with a broken neck. He is in a clinical depression that lasted nearly two weeks, but Zanardi remained upbeat.
“My wife asked me last night what condition of life I was in,” Zanardi said in a video he posted to Facebook. “I told her that if you asked me the same question today, I would have the same answer.”
Zanardi, who turns 40 on Sept. 26, crashed Aug. 25 on the main straight of the 11-turn track in front of the grandstands at the German Grand Prix.
He said that the crash with Freed occurred after he turned right from Turn 1.
“We turned and the front was completely gone,” Zanardi said on his blog. “The car came up and hit the fence. It was too fast and too violent and I was going too fast.”
Zanardi, a former Italian international road race champion, crashed into the 13-foot-high JORA Logic pillar. He suffered a broken back and spinal cord injuries that left him in a coma. He underwent spinal cord surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after his accident.
“I am almost sure that I am lucky because my doctors found a metal pin from my crashed car stuck under my skin and my left side,” Zanardi said on his blog. “They would have taken my leg off to remove the bone if they knew I had it under there.”
Zanardi was able to move his legs. He said he is eating and drinking with assistance.
“However, I have no use of my legs and I need electric stimulation 24 hours a day to make them function better,” Zanardi said. “I am in good spirits, enjoying my life and remaining thankful.”
Zanardi, who was a commercial driver before turning to racing, said that he wants to return to driving again.
“It could be either in cars or maybe motorcycles,” Zanardi said. “Motorcycling would be much harder because the impact of a car would be much larger.”