Las Vegas, NV – September 28, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) team co-owner Sam Schmidt makes history today as the first American recipient of an autonomous vehicle drivers’ license in his home state of Nevada.
Schmidt was paralyzed (quad) in 2000 after an accident during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. In 2001, Schmidt established the SPM race team, which competes in both the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.
In 2014, Schmidt collaborated with Arrow Electronics for the first time on the “SAM Project,” a campaign to put the Henderson, Nev. native in the driver’s seat of a modified Corvette C7 Stingray. Since then, Arrow has become the primary sponsor of SPM’s No. 5 Indy car, piloted by James Hinchcliffe.
In addition, Schmidt drove an updated version of the SAM car (2016 Corvette Z06) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past May, topping out at an awe-inspiring 152 mph. He followed that up by participating in the treacherous Pikes Peak Hill Climb in June.
The license presentation at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is part of a full morning lineup of events, titled “Driving Into History,” presented by Arrow Electronics. Arrow President and CEO Mike Long will be joined by special guests, including Lt. Governor Mark Hutchinson, Steve Hill, Director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Zachery Miles, UNLV Assoc. Vice President for Economic Development.
As reported by NBC Sports Network, officials from the Nevada DMV stated, “Nevada is leading the nation in promoting autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technologies that can bring mobility and independence to people with physical disabilities, including our wounded warriors.”
Schmidt will be presented with the license at approximately 10:40 a.m. PT before doing exhibition laps in the SAM car on the Exotics Racing track and onto the public roadway.
“This has been an incredible journey,” said Schmidt. “What started as a hope and a dream to go one hundred miles per hour has taken on a life of its own. Quickly changing technology no different than advances in cell phones have allowed us to compete on road courses, go 152 miles per hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year and complete the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. These were all ridiculous thoughts three years ago.
“Getting a drivers license is not the end of the road, but it is the ultimate example to tell the world you can absolutely accomplish anything, if you combine resources with the right group committed to a common cause. It has truly been a life changing experience for me and my family.”