Indy 500 Centennial Tour begins to take shape
An overseas tour of auto racing personalities representing the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is beginning to take shape as more participants and details of the trip are confirmed.
1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti and Cameron Haven, the IZOD Trophy Girl, have confirmed their participation on the Indy 500 Centennial Tour will take participants to visit American military personnel stationed in Europe and Southwest Asia in January.
The tour is the brainchild of the Morale Entertainment Foundation, which is closely coordinating with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IZOD IndyCar Series to have the group visit U.S. troops. Among the tour participants are: Al Unser, Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Graham Rahal, Davey Hamilton, Larry Foyt and Martin Plowman, along with racing announcer Jack Arute and IZOD IndyCar Series Executive Terry Angstadt.
The tour is expected to begin in Germany with a visit to wounded warriors and continues with appearances at U.S. bases in Southwest Asia and on an active duty US carrier at sea. Thirty-minute panel discussions will be conducted in auditoriums with Jack Arute serving as the moderator. Panel discussions will be followed by questions as well as a meet and greet and photo opportunities.
"The troops serving downrange are always happy to get a taste of home," said Lt Col USAF Kathleen Weatherspoon, Chief, Armed Forces Entertainment. "And nothing says 'America' more than bringing these amazing drivers to share their stories and to thank our men and women in uniform." Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency providing entertainment for American troops stationed around the world.
The Morale Entertainment Foundation has been taking inspirational celebrities to visit US troops since 2008. They have taken three groups of NCAA football coaches and more recently five Legends of Aerospace - Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, plus famed test pilot Bob Gilliland and Vietnam War USAF ace Steve Ritchie.
"We enjoy the opportunity to provide a boost to our brave men and women abroad," said Morale Entertainment Foundation tour director, Thomas M. Lee.