Football great Hershel Walker climbs into the 2-seater with Mario Andretti
"Next time, I'll drive," Herschel Walker says following his ride in an Indy Racing Experience two-seater on the undulating 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway road course.
Of course, it was in jest. The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL player exited the stretched Indy car with a smile that busted out of the helmet, bumped fists as a thank you to driver Mario Andretti and wiped the sweat from his brow.
"That was awesome, and to have a legend like Mario Andretti -- a guy who has driven everything -- take me around the track was special," adds Walker, who is a guest of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Andretti Autosport for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
"When you feel the power of the car I was thinking, 'Boy, I hope he's got this.' It's amazing all that torque, and then when he hit the brakes it was 'Whoa. That's quick.' "
Walker and Mario Andretti
Walker, at 6 foot 1 and looking in playing form at 225 pounds, said he respects all athletes for their dedication and preparation. He competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics for the United States in the two-man bobsled.
"To come out here and drive an IndyCar is just amazing. I can see why they are exhausted after an 85-lap race, and I was out there without any other cars, which adds to the stress and abilities needed," Walker says. "My hat is off to these drivers after I've learned a bit more about the sport.
"Being a car guy, I really like these cars, too. Anything with an engine, I love it."
Walker, who's involved in numerous businesses, has more than 80 cars in his collection, including a '58 Cadillac and three Mini Coopers that have been modified to accept 350-horsepower engines.
"I still have my black 'Smoky and the Bandit' Trans-Am that I got when I was in college," he says. "I don't have an Indy car yet so maybe I'll have to get one for my collection, and maybe I'll want to get involved. That's one of the reasons I'm here."
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