He launched between 1991 and 1999 in 41 Grand Prix to the Formula 1 World Championship. 1997 and 1998, Zanardi won each of the Champ Car championship. In 2001 he had an accident with one of these series race hard on the Euro Speedway Lausitz and amputee ever since. Between 2005 and 2009, Zanardi drove back car race and took part in the BMW World Touring Car Championship ( WTCC). In 2012, he was two-time Paralympic champion in the discipline handcycle.
Zanardi scored in the Champ Car series two titles and 15 race wins; in Formula 1, however, he reached a point total of the race in Brazil in 1993.
His debut in Formula 1 was Alessandro Zanardi for Jordan end of 1991. Was followed by further inserts for Minardi, before he received a contract for the full season with Lotus in 1993. A serious accident at Spa- Francorchamps stopped his career for the time being. In 1994 he was allowed to move back to the racing- Lotus after the injury woes of Pedro Lamy, but did so quite unsuccessful.
After several years he moved quite hapless in 1996 in the American Champ Car series. Here he went to the side of Jimmy Vasser, who for Chip Ganassi Racing won the championship in 1996. Zanardi was Rookie of the Year and won three races. Special recognition achieved his success at Laguna Seca when he was in the last round Bryan Herta in the so-called " Corkscrew ", a secluded, steep S- curve, obsolete - a maneuver that is also known as " The Pass " ever since. In 1997 and 1998 he won the championship in each case before the end of the season.
Due to its success in the U.S. and because he had to " settle accounts " with the formula one another, he in 1999 moved back into Formula 1, and was with the team Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher. However, he achieved this year no countable result (zero points) and withdrew temporarily from motorsport.
In 2001, he joined the team of Mo Nunn again in the Champ Car series. After many hapless race he led this season on September 15 at the Lausitzring for the first time in a long time at a race. After the last pit stop, there was a momentous collision with the car of Alex Tagliani: In the pit exit Zanardi came to the green strip that separates the track from the pit lane exit, and hurled uncontrollably on the track where he of Tagliani with 320 km / h was made. His car was it torn in two. Zanardi had to be revived seven times and lost both legs above the knee. However, this did not prevent him from, after two years to get back into a race car. In 2003, he went before re- appearance of the series to him missing his "victory" after the accident 13 laps at Lausitzring as a show to end and did so "his" race. The lap times achieved here would have been enough for 5th place in qualifying.
Between 2005 and 2009 drove Alessandro Zanardi in the World Touring Car Championship for BMW. He drove a specially modified car in which he throttle by hand and could operate the brake with the prosthesis of the right leg. On August 29, 2005, Zanardi won in a race of the World Touring Car Championship in Oschersleben his first race since his serious accident. After the race he said - not entirely accordance with the regulations - in the opposite direction through the pit lane, where he was celebrated by all the riders and mechanics. Two more race wins he scored in Istanbul in 2006 and 2008 in Brno. The end of 2009 he resigned.
On November 25, 2006 Zanardi rose after seven year break in a Formula 1 car. During the Formula BMW World Final F1 specially for his needs retrofitted F1.06 (Formula 1 car for the 2006 season ) to him by BMW Sauber was provided. Zanardi is the first amputee racers, who completed a test drive in a Formula 1 car. He drove 30 timed laps on the course in Valencia (Spain). According to the BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said to have been a one-time affair. Further experiments are planned.
2012 Zanardi went at the Paralympics in London at the hand bikes at the start. With this sport, he has already begun during his time with the World Touring Car Championship and applies it as a professional. In 2007, he reached the fourth place in his first appearance at the New York City Marathon, in 2011 he won the competition in this sector. He gave 5 July 2012 his comeback on the track at Brands Hatch in a hand bike and was able to get at the Summer Paralympics 2012 in London gold in the time trial and road race and silver in the mixed team driving.
On January 21, 2014 BMW announced that Alex Zanardi, is at the age of 47 years to enter into this season in the Blancpain Series GT his comeback as a racing driver.
In 1999, Honda's luxury brand Acura a limited edition of 50 copies signed and Zanardi special edition of the sports car NSX at the North American market; as a reminder of the successes achieved by Zanardi with Honda engines. The car with the number 1 received its name.
Nicknamed "Alex" Zanardi got in his time in the U.S., as the local television commentators, the Italian name was too long and too complicated.