Klettwitz, Germany Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi lost both legs Saturday when his car was hit by another traveling about 200 mph in a race renamed the "American Memorial 500" following the terrorist attacks.
The 34-year-old Italian was leading with 12 laps left in CART's first race in Europe. As he exited pit lane after a stop, Zanardi seemed to accelerate too early, lost control and swerved sideways across a grassy area and into the path of Alex Tagliani's car.
Zanardi's car was shattered as Tagliani struck it broadside, the chassis cut in two with debris spraying across the track.
Zanardi's condition was "stable but critical" after three hours of surgery at a Berlin hospital to amputate both legs above the knee, CART physician Dr. Steve Olvey said.
The driver also broke his pelvis and had a "moderately severe concussion," Olvey said.
Morris Nunn, Zanardi's car owner, said Zanardi was "breathing on his own and has no other apparent internal injuries."
Tagliani, a 28-year-old Canadian airlifted to the same hospital, was awake and alert with no serious injuries, CART said. He was expected to be hospitalized up to 48 hours.
Patrick Carpentier managed to avoid Zanardi as the Italian's car skidded on the track. The next car to zoom by was Tagliani's, and it plowed straight into Zanardi.
Carpentier finished third, behind Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis as the race ended under a yellow flag before 87,600 fans at the EuroSpeedway.