Zanardi released from hospital

Alex Zanardi was released from the hospital Tuesday six weeks after his legs were amputated and spoke of possibly racing again.

"I feel I brought home the best and the most of myself," the two-time CART champion said. "I didn't lose much.

"I got to know the importance of the love of family and friends. Sometimes in life, we forget what we have."

Zanardi, one of CART's most popular drivers, said his first priority is to walk using artificial legs.

But he hopes that someday he may be able to get behind the wheel of a race car again.

"Motor racing has been a great passion of my life, not only my job, and maybe one day if I am able I will (race again)," he said. "But the reality is, I don't know what I will be able to do right now."

Zanardi was injured while leading the American Memorial 500, the first CART race held in Europe, with 12 laps left.

As he pulled out of the pits, his Honda Reynard got away from him and he spun backward into the path of Alex Tagliani, who hit his car at 200 m.p.h. and sheared it in half.

Zanardi was airlifted to a hospital in Berlin that specializes in treating accident victims.

Zanardi lost 70 per cent of his blood and both legs were amputated halfway up his thighs.

"He was lucky to even reach the hospital," said Dr. Walter Schaffartzik, one of the physicians who worked on Zanardi as soon as he arrived at the Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin.

"It was a very critical situation."

Schaffartzik said it most likely would be a year or two before Zanardi can walk again.

But if therapy goes well, he added, Zanardi will be able to move about without crutches and will at least be able to drive a regular car.

Zanardi, who turned 35 in the hospital, said he has spoken with Tagliani and told him emphatically the accident was "absolutely not his fault."

He now returns to his home in Monaco.

He plans to move back to his native Bologna, Italy, with his wife, Daniela, and three-year-old son Niccolo.

Zanardi's right leg is completely healed, but he will have to wait until the left leg is ready before beginning to learn how to use prosthetic limbs.

"I hope I can start before Christmas," Zanardi said, then pausing and smiling. "It would be nice, as we say in Italian, to celebrate Christmas with my legs under the table."

By David Rising