Meet Business Athlete Sam Schmidt (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)

Sam Schmidt

Back in the Driver’s Seat at Long Beach

If you’ve never seen Sam Schmidt before, it’s probably because he was moving too fast.

Sam is a business athlete in the most literal sense: After purchasing his father’s auto parts business at the ripe old age of 25, Sam began pursuing his dream of becoming a professional race car driver and quickly proved his mettle as the 1995 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, his promising racing career was cut short when he crashed during a test drive in 2000 and was rendered quadriplegic. But that was only a temporary roadblock.

Sam turned his attention to running Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and founded the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, which in May 2015 celebrates its 15th year of funding and research toward curing paralysis. In April, Sam undertook a new challenge: speeding around the twists and turns of the Long Island Grand Prix course, using only his head movements to navigate a customized Corvette.

At Launch, we seek out people and companies with that kind of perseverance and technical innovation. We partner with people who dream big and follow through. We partner with people who overcome obstacles and help others do the same. We partner with winners.

Sam Schmidt fits all the criteria: Successful business owner; 1995 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year; philanthropic foundation founder; co-owner of the most successful Indy Lights racing team of all time. Sam knows what it means to be a business athlete, and we sat down with him to find out more.

Launch: Why is Launch the right partner for you?

Sam Schmidt: Life is short. We like to partner with people of integrity and similar priorities to our company. Launch fits that description, and it also fits perfectly with our technology-based business model. We know that we can refer Launch to our other partners and they will be treated fairly.

Launch: What does being a Business Athlete mean to you?

SS: To me, being a business athlete means applying all of the traits that were needed to be a successful professional athlete to the business world, and adding trust, honesty, and “got your back” to the mix that is not always a part of athletics.

Launch: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?

SS: Not everyone operates under the same code of ethics or does what they say they’re going to do.

Launch: What would you drop everything to do at this moment, if you had the chance?

SS: Hug my kids…and be able to drive anything over 300mph.

Launch: What do you wish more people knew about? Why do you care about this issue?

SS: The number of permanently disabled young men and women from the last 15 years, and the suicide rate amongst all disabled vets. They sacrificed for our freedom, many times paying the ultimate price, and don’t have enough support when they return. Many of them just want a job to support their family and regain their identity.

Launch: What do you wish I had asked you?

SS: My favorite brand of tequila!  🙂

Fueled by passion, petroleum, and possibly Patrón, Sam Schmidt and his teams are making strides both in paralysis research and in IndyCar racing. With an emphasis on creating and refining technology, both in business and in sports, Sam truly knows what it takes to take people further, faster.