By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun
2:50 PM EDT, August 31, 2013
Sam Schmidt, who is in town for the Grand Prix of Baltimore, didn’t get to celebrate his 49th birthday on the race track. That didn’t stop Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes from wishing the owner of Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports a happy birthday.
Two weeks after his actual birthday, Schmidt was presented Saturday afternoon with a race car cake. Members of Schmidt’s team, including IndyCar drivers Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier, and onlookers sang “Happy Birthday” to Schmidt, a former driver who became a quadriplegic after a car he was driving at the Walt Disney World Speedway crashed into a wall on Jan. 6, 2000.
Schmidt, who was born on Aug. 15, 1964, said he was genuinely surprised by the appearance of the cake.
“It’s been a couple weeks since my birthday,” he said. “Usually, you expect a lot of pranks, a lot of special stuff. But I’ll take it. It’s awesome.”
Geof Manthorne, executive chef at Charm City Cakes, said the 16-year-old daughter of someone who works with Schmidt contacted the bakery a month ago about creating a cake for Schmidt. Manthorne estimated that it took about 50 hours to design, bake, and decorate a cake shaped like Pagenaud’s No. 77 blue and white car.
“It really sounded like he had no idea this was coming,” Manthorne said. “He was totally shocked, like he didn’t know why everyone was standing around him. … It’s for Sam’s birthday, but it’s also for everyone who is passionate about this sport and everyone on this team. The amount of respect that everyone seems to have for him, everyone is joining in this celebration together.”
Both of Schmidt’s drivers will begin Sunday’s race in the top six. Pagenaud qualified for third place with a time of 1 minute, 18.4307 seconds, while Vautier placed sixth in 1:19.0380.
Schmidt said if he had one wish, it would be for a victory on Baltimore’s 2.02-mile course.
“We’d be having a big party tomorrow night, and I would take that over anything else,” he said. “Was kind of disappointed that we didn’t get the pole position. We did get the pole position in Indy Lights, but not IndyCar. So I’ll take a victory for sure.”
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