His willpower and spirit of self-improvement allows him to stay active as a high-level sportsman, giving us a gratifying lesson in perseverance. He was trained as an elite sportsman who, at age 17, still is the youngest athlete to have participated in the Winter Olympics, exactly in the XVI Winter Olympics celebrated in Sarajevo. A year later, in 1985, while participating at Europe’s Ski Cup, he suffered a serious accident in one of the slopes that left him prostrated unto a wheelchair, suffering from paraplegia localized at the dorsal level.
His life suffered a traumatic breakage, presenting him with an uncertain future. The wheelchair became a must to help him move. But far from giving up and after a hard adaption period, his sportive spirit helped him to regain new light after the accident that seemed to have blackened his life.
Car racing, his other great passion, made Albert to break the limits imposed to every human being in his condition. With unusual courage he started a new sports life in car racing that would also take him to the highest levels in the difficult and complex world of rallies, gaining the respect from both other rival pilots and the public. Today, he is the only disabled pilot who participated in the World Rally Championship competing against rivals with no disability.
The 23-year-old American driver joins his teammate, 31-year-old South African Stephen Simpson, in the Street Tuner (ST) Class, which in addition to Johnson and Simpson’s BMW, will see cars from Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan and Porsche.
Team owner, John Church, is just as confident in his driver.
“Johnson has the fire in his belly that you look for in a driver,” said Church. “He has relentless motivation and a ‘no-quit’ attitude that makes him not only an intimidating competitor, but also an asset to the sport. He raises the bar for paralyzed and able-bodied athletes, alike and I think the BMW 228 M is the perfect car to get him to the finish line.”
Johnson’s racecar will be specialty-equipped with hand controls provided by GuidoSimplex. Due to Johnson being paralyzed from the waist down, his car has a complicated brake, gearshift, and throttle system—he presses a ring on the steering wheel forward to accelerate, then pulls another ring toward him to brake.
Takuma Aoki (born February 24, 1974 in Tokyo) is a former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from Japan. He began his Grand Prix career in 1993. From 1994 to 1996, Aoki competed in the World Superbike Championship, winning one race in that series.
He returned to Grand Prix racing with Honda in 1997, enjoying his best season when he finished fifth in the 500cc world championship. A spinal injury in a 1998 motorcycle crash left him paralyzed below the waist. Aoki has continued to work with Honda, helping them develop cars for disabled people. He is the brother of Grand Prix racers, Nobuatsu and Haruchika Aoki.
Aoki has recently been involved in motorsports again. Using specially-modified 4-wheel drive vehicles, he has been involved in many cross country rallies, notably the Dakar Rally and the Asia Cross Country Rally.
ALFREDO DI COSMO
Alfredo Di Cosmo was born in Milan on December 3, 1971. During the month of July 1995 he was involved in a road accident and as a result he lost the usage of his lower limbs.
After one year in Hospital he had happened to meet with Clay Regazzoni at the Bologna Motor Show, this meeting together with his deep passion for racing ensured that the seed of desire to become a professional pilot had been planted firmly within his heart. He decided to attend a FISAPS Racing Pilot course in 2001 and the following year in 2002 he won the Italian Fiat Autonomy Championship .
In 2004 he raced at Monza and achieved an incredible third place, his year was crowned when he received the Michele Alboreto “Golden Helmet” award and was officially awarded “Driver of the Year 2004”.
Shortly afterwards he became a testimonial of the Fiat Autonomy Programme a roll that he still covers today.
Throughout his distinguished career Alfredo has achieved numerous victories and even more placings in various Italian and European championships , he is currently racing with a Fiat 500 Abarth in Italian European Fiat Abarth Trophy.