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DATE News (chronologically)
05/24/09
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Sunday Notebook from Indy - 5
Air Force Gen. Thomas Stafford, commander of the Apollo 10 mission that in May 1969 included a test of the lunar module in lunar orbit, says that Luczo Dragon Racing driver Raphael Matos would "make a good astronaut candidate." Stafford is attending the race as a guest of the team.

Stafford was cited in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for highest speed ever attained by man - on the Apollo 10 re-entry (24,791 statute mph, which would be the equivalent of a lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in about three-tenths of a second).

Stafford logged his fourth space flight as commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in July 1975, culminating in the first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. He was the one who shook hands with the Russian cosmonaut.

GEN. THOMAS STAFFORD: "I was here in 1964 and have watched it every year since on TV, but it's great to be back at this great race and historic track. It's great to see a lot of the space technology from our programs developed into these race cars. I'm very proud that the Luczo Dragon race team would recognize the Air Force and the men and women who serve and have served."

***

Actor and entertainer Jim Nabors will sing "Back Home Again in Indiana" for the 31st time today in the pre-Indianapolis 500 festivities.

JIM NABORS: "It's the biggest day of the year. I always look forward to it more than anything. It's sort of a tradition for me. I never expected to be part of the tradition, but I'm just thrilled to be part of it." (On how he feels each year when is at the track): "I get pretty nervous. You look out at that crowd, you kidding? It's pretty wild. There's nothing like it." (On how his day progresses here at the Speedway): "I'm just kind of standing up there with Mari (Hulman George), and we kind of do our thing, our duet. I sing, and she says, 'Start your engines.' It's a really indescribable feeling." (On singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" for the first time at the Speedway, in 1972): "The first time I ever sang it I knew the song. I'd heard it all my life, but I wanted to be sure. I didn't know I was going to sing it, first of all. I wrote the lyrics on my hand. I didn't even know what the intro was going to be or if it was in my key or whatever, you know? You never know. They can really get you there. It was pretty exciting, and I really enjoyed it." (On being part of the festivities for so many years): "I feel very blessed and very rewarded that the people of Indiana kind of accepted me as one of theirs. I really do, and I'm very grateful."

***

Indianapolis 500 veteran and ABC IndyCar Series analyst Scott Goodyear recently became the national spokesperson for the Tire Rack Street Survival driver education program, designed to help young drivers learn the skills and gain the experience needed to stay alive behind the wheel.

In the Tire Rack Street Survival program, teens learn from experienced, knowledgeable driving coaches how to control a vehicle, rather than just operate one. They are taught how their actions govern a car's responses, what the vehicles limitations are and how to avoid accidents. Students use their personal car or family's car so new skills can be translated to their daily driving experiences.

One-day Tire Track Street Survival classes typically take place on weekends and are open to permitted and licensed drivers ages 16-21. The cost is $60 per student, and some insurance companies offer premium discounts to graduates. To find a program, visit www.streetsurvival.org or call (864) 329-1919.

Goodyear's son participated in a Tire Rack Street Survival program near their hometown of Carmel, Ind., which inspired him to become a national spokesperson.

SCOTT GOODYEAR: "I firmly believe Tire Rack Street Survival is the best in giving young drivers valuable experience behind the wheel."

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