“Racers and Pacers” mark month of May in Indy

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While the New York Knicks managed to stave off elimination last night against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the latter team is still one win away from setting up a veritable “Racers and Pacers” party for the city of Indianapolis as we head for next weekend’s Indy 500.

Notice that it’s Racers and Pacers, not Racers vs. Pacers. It’s true that a tough economy has created more spirited competition for the fans’ hard-earned money, but both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Pacers are wishing each other well and insist that it’s all good for their home city.

“As people promote the Pacers and the NBA, often times they are saying, hey it’s big time in May because it’s Indianapolis and the ‘500’ is there. I think it’s great for both of us that there’s plenty of room to share it,” said IMS spokesman Doug Boles to Indy television station WRTV earlier this week. “This is one of the best sports communities in the country and we love the idea that you’ve got basketball going while we’ve got racing going.”

Pacers spokesman Eddie White also told WRTV that many “500” figures have made their way out to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to attend the games. On that note, “500” legend Mario Andretti received a standing ovation from the crowd in Indianapolis when he was spotted at Game 4 of the Pacers-Knicks series on Tuesday.

“I was very proud to carry the Pacer banner because they were kicking butt and there’s nothing better than to go out there and the team you’re rooting for is winning,” the 1969 Indy winner told The Indianapolis Star yesterday.

The Pacers, now up 3-2 against the Knicks, will get another crack at advancing to the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow night in Indy. Be sure to keep up with that series by reading ProBasketballTalk here on NBCSports.com.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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