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Contact Ken de la Bastide: ken.delabastide@kokomotribune.com

Unfortunately, weather played havoc with the Rolex 24 this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway, but there were still some great storylines from the race.

Undoubtedly the best, in my opinion, was Alex Zanardi returning to competition in North America.

The Italian won the CART championship in 1997 and 1998 and then returned to Europe to compete in Formula One.

As the result of a horrific crash in 2001, Zanardi lost both legs, which put an end to a brilliant racing career.

But instead of lamenting his injuries, Zanardi went on to compete in the Paralympics, winning a gold medal in 2012 as a cyclist.

Thanks to an innovation developed by engineers with BMW, Zanardi was able to compete in the Rolex 24, with all the controls for the race car included as part of the steering wheel.

Although there were problems engaging the steering wheel during his first shift on the track, Zanardi and the engineers resolved the problem and he was able to join the competition.

During the race, Zanardi piloted the BMW three times for more than six hours.

The other interesting storyline was Fernando Alonzo being a part of the driving team that won the Rolex 24.

He joins Phil Hill and Mario Andretti as the only Formula One champions to win the Rolex 24. Hill accomplished the feat in 1964 and Andretti in 1972.

Alonzo will be returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May to compete in his second Indianapolis 500.

He made an impressive first appearance two years ago by contending for a victory until a mechanical failure ended his afternoon.

Alonzo will be going for a victory in the final leg of the motorsports Triple Crown, having already won the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 hours of LeMans.

Hopefully, Alonzo will compete in several more NTT IndyCar Series events during the year, including the Indianapolis Grand Prix and the event at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

His return to the Indianapolis 500 will create a buzz around the event as he looks to complete the Triple Crown.

In other racing news

Youngster Connor Okrzesik bested Kyle Busch on a late restart to win the super late model portion of the Champion Racing Association’s annual Speedfest in Georgia.

Casey Roderick won the pro late model race at Speedfest.

Only two CRA regulars made the trip to Georgia for Speedfest, which was disappointing news. Brian Campbell and CRA Super Series champion Josh Brock made the trip south.

I hope several of the drivers competing at Speedfest in addition to Okrezesik and Roderick — including Bubba Pollard, Harrison Burton, Kyle Plott and Tate Fogelman — will make the trip north to compete in the Redbud 400 and Winchester 400 this year.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

​Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.