Mario Andretti joins Indianapolis 500 Centennial Tour Racing legend Mario Andretti will join the group of past, present and future Indianapolis 500 drivers who will visit Europe and the Middle East in January as part of the Indianapolis 500 Centennial Tour.
Andretti, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, will join fellow Indianapolis 500 winners Johnny Rutherford and Al Unser Jr., Indy 500 veterans Graham Rahal and Davey Hamilton, and Firestone Indy Lights veteran Martin Plowman on the trip.
Longtime IndyCar television announcer Jack Arute and IndyCar President, Commercial Division Terry Angstadt also are making the trip, with Arute serving as the moderator and leading panel discussions at all stops on the trip. The group will meet with between 10,000 and 15,000 troops during the 10-day trip.
“This is such an incredible opportunity, we feel, not only to celebrate and kick off the centennial year of the Indianapolis 500, but anyone who has been even close to the Indy 500 recognizes how we really embrace the military, Memorial Day, every aspect of what our troops do for us since the beginning of time,” Angstadt said. “So we could not feel better about being just a small part of bringing this unique program to a number of bases in the Middle East.”
The group will leave Indianapolis Jan. 12 and return to the U.S. on Jan. 22. It is expected that the group will visit U.S. installations in Germany, Turkey, Spain, Qatar, Iraq, North Africa and the United Arab Emirates, and likely will visit a deployed U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf or North Arabian Sea.
Morale Entertainment Foundation is the primary coordinator of the trip.
“The age side of it puts us in the same area (as the troops), so we can relate,” Rahal said. “When they called to ask me if I’d do this, I said I’d be more than happy. It will be a lot of fun to take a day and spend it with them.”