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Andretti to lead Indy 500 field UPDATE
Mario Andretti coaches Mark Wahlberg as he prepares to take laps at the Indy 500. Wahlberg will sit passenger to Michael Andretti in the IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation PVH announced today on behalf of its IZOD brand, sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series, that Mark Wahlberg, award winning actor and producer, will join the field at the start of the 2010 Indianapolis 500 – "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing®."  Michael Andretti will drive Wahlberg in the custom-built, two-seat Indy car billed as the "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports," as Mario Andretti, 1969 Indy 500 winner, coaches the two by radio from the IZOD Performance Pit.

Andretti and Wahlberg will follow four parade cars and lead the official pace car and the 33-car field of IZOD IndyCars on three parade laps.  Once the parade cars exit the circuit, the two-seat race car will round the track at nearly 200 mph to catch the field from behind as the field takes the green flag for the most famous race in the world.  This historic moment, which marks the first time in modern history that a driver and passenger will join the field of the Indy 500, will be captured live on ABC at Noon EST on May 30, 2010.

"This sport is incredible.  I was blown away at the Long Beach Grand Prix by the speed and skill of these drivers – I've had the racing bug ever since," said Mark Wahlberg, Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor, producer and AquaHydrate business partner.  "My career has taken me down many amazing roads, but nothing compares to this. This should be the ride of my life."

Michael Andretti
Indeed, at speeds close to 200 mph, Wahlberg will endure G-forces equal to a space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral as he rounds the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, travelling the length of a football field in less than a second. To capture the experience, the "No. 1st IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" Indy race car will be equipped with cameras and microphones to capture every moment of Wahlberg and Andretti's famous laps.  Exclusive footage, unique camera shots, in-car audio and pre- and post-race interviews will be available to fans, courtesy of Indy racing sponsor IZOD, after the race on www.racetotheparty.com

"We've got three heavyweights making history – Mark Wahlberg, a Hollywood leading man who, for this ride, is professionally trained for an upcoming movie and in the best shape of his life, alongside Mario Andretti, one of the best to ever drive a race car and Michael Andretti, former driver and owner of Andretti Autosport," said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, the worldwide owner of the IZOD brand.  "We're really proud to have these guys on our team and on the track for the first "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" event. What a great place to be during an event like this. I would think it's like suiting up with a Super Bowl team and chasing the kicker."

The 2010 Indy 500 marks the on-track premier of the "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" Indy race car, a custom-built, two-seat Indy car, and the "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" experience.  The car will continue its on-track tour at IZOD IndyCar Series events across America and Canada and IZOD will continue to sponsor "Fastest Seat in Sports" events, including promotions that will offer race fans the opportunity to experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment themselves.  AquaHydrate is partnering with IZOD on these promotions.  Special announcements will be made during the Indy 500 broadcast with details.   

Since taking the title sponsor role for the IndyCar Series, IZOD has aggressively promoted the sport in an advertising campaign mixing the sport and its drivers with the classic IZOD brand lifestyle.  The campaign titled "Race to the Party" features a series of 30-second commercials featuring IZOD IndyCar drivers – Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, racing different high-speed vehicles to a party.  A special Indy 500 two-minute commercial continues the campaign and features cameos from Mark Wahlberg and Mario Andretti – who lend their star power to the storyline linking the Indy 500 "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" event to the campaign.

Wahlberg and Andretti will make various promotional appearances in New York, Boston and Indianapolis with the "No. 1st IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports" Honda Indy car leading up to the Indy 500.

Mario Andretti leads 1987 Indy 500
Mario Andretti last led the Indy 500 in 1987, an Indy  race dominated like no other before, only to see his engine break 13 laps from the end handing a lucky Al Unser his 4th 500 win.
Mario Andretti is warming up for a celebrity start to next week's Indianapolis 500.  The 1969 Indy winner has been asked to drive the Indy Racing Experience's two-seat Indy car as part of the pre-race activities for the May 30 race.

Details are still being finalized, according to Mike Kelly, executive vice president of marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen, which owns Izod, the new title sponsor of the IndyCar Series.

The plan, discussed in Indianapolis, would have actor Mark Wahlberg, star of "Boogie Nights" and "The Departed," as Andretti's passenger.

The Izod-sponsored two-seater would be positioned in front of the official pace car until the last lap before the green flag. Then, Andretti, 70, would hurry around Indianapolis Motor Speedway to catch the back of the pack before pitting.

The promotional ride-along is expected to be confirmed Monday during IndyCar's media tour in New York. It is the brainchild of John Lewis, the Indy Racing League's vice president of marketing and league development.

Similar ride-alongs are expected at other IndyCar races this season.

Andretti's last appearance on the oval came in 2003 as he tested the car of Tony Kanaan. Andretti struck debris left from Kenny Brack's car and flipped through the south end of the track, bouncing off the catch fence.

The car landed safely on its wheels and Andretti escaped the aerial ride with only a chin scratch.

An Andretti-Wahlberg pairing is one of the many glitzy activities Izod officials are planning for the 500 this year. They also hope to have legendary actor Jack Nicholson, 73, wave the green flag to start the race. Indy Star

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