Indiana-based Braun Corporation, through its BraunAbility brand, will be the primary sponsor of a Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in the Indianapolis 500.
The Honda-powered No. 99 BraunAbility/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car will be a team car to the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car to be driven by Simon Pagenaud on May 27. The driver of the No. 99 car will be announced 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.
“This relationship with the Braun Corporation is more than just a sponsorship to me, ” Schmidt said. “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," Braun said. "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."
May is National Mobility Awareness Month. Supported by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, 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.