In the last race of the 1996 IndyCar season, Bryan Herta had the lead heading into the final lap, trailed by Alex Zanardi. As the white flag flew, Zanardi realized time was running out to take the lead, so the Italian superstar did the unthinkable: risking a high-speed crash, Zanardi passed Herta through the infield dirt of Laguna Seca’s corkscrew.
The pass, shown in the video below, was particularly bold, given that Zanardi was out of contention for the championship, which was ultimately won by Jimmy Vasser. Zanardi’s pass has become the stuff of motorsport legend, and it’s proof that many professionals still subscribe to the theory that “second place is the first loser.”
In a new video replicating Zanardi’s now-infamous pass, BMW highlights why its 555 horsepower, all-wheel-drive X5M may be a better choice for the real world than its storied M3. While the M3 can likely lap Laguna Seca in less time than the X5M, it’s not designed for off-track excursions, even those that shave a few seconds off a lap time.
We say that you really can’t go wrong with either choice, but if your driving needs involve the occasional dirt road, we’d give the nod to the X5M, too.