Andretti Lures Petty To The 500
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
John Andretti is about as diverse as race-car drivers get. He’s driven everything from dragsters to Sprint Cup cars and all manner of vehicle betwixt. It turns out that he is also pretty good at being devious.
So good at being devious that he got the King of stock-car racing to pop for a ride for Andretti in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Richard Petty has announced that this coming May, his team will put a car on the track at Indy. It will be Petty-blue and day-glo red and Andretti will drive it.
After taking care of business at Indy on Memorial Day weekend, Andretti will hustle out to Charlotte, N.C. to compete in the Coca Cola 600. Yep, the double. It’s back.
And The King will be along for the ride.
So, like, why?
It seems Petty has grown fond of the Indy 500 over the last year. Make that fonder.
“Used to listen to the race on radio when I was a kid,” Petty said. “Anyhow, we always was able to watch the race because we was at Charlotte. Up in the condo, we was able to watch the race, then wait for our race.”
But last year, he paid his first visit to the event in person and he liked what he saw.
“You see all the hullabaloo that goes on to begin with, all the people wandering up and down pit road, singing, ‘Back Home in Indiana,’ all that,” Petty said. “It was really everything I expected it to be. So I was impressed with that. A lot of times you build things up, and once you go to them you’re kind of disappointed because maybe you set your standard too high for that event. But this one covered everything that I ever thought about.”
Andretti knew that the King would get hooked – 300,000 fans do every year.
Which was why Petty attended the 2008 race to begin with. He was set up by long-time extended-family member Andretti.
“That was one of John’s initial deals,” Petty said. “He figured if he could get me here, get me all excited in what I seen, then maybe he could talk me into being involved. Basically that’s what happened.”
Andretti said, yes, that’s all about right. But he also named the name of a fellow conspirator.
“I was actually talking to Robbie Loomis (vice president of race operations for Richard Petty Racing),” Andretti said. “I said, ‘It would be good if I get Richard up here to experience what I experience up here.’ The Indianapolis 500 is so different than most other races I’ve ever been a part of, especially for me because of my family history.
“They took me up on it. With a lot of people’s help, we got Richard here. Actually, Richard came up on his own plane, brought Dale Inman with him, Robbie Loomis, Brian Moffitt. It was Race Day. Wherever Richard went, you knew where he was at. There was a glob of people.
“It was a pretty unique day. I think that was one of those things where Richard said earlier, you can talk about it, you can show him pictures, but to see it firsthand is what probably tripped the whole trigger, to kind of get me to be able to say, ‘Why don’t we do this together?’ “
And there, sitting near Gasoline Alley on the wheel of a car without fenders this week, feet planted on the yard of bricks, was The King. And a grinning Andretti.2 Comments