Mario Andretti saluted for his charity work: ‘I love positives’

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He no longer races at 200 mph, but Mario Andretti finds as much reward and wonder in riding at a more leisurely pace these days.

The four-time IndyCar champion has been accompanying Meals on Wheels deliveries near his home in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

“The guy who drives me around, every day he’s trying to bring a smile, or some comfort to someone,” Andretti told Motorsports Talk. “That’s what they call an everyday hero who focuses on the positive. That’s a beautiful thing, especially today in the world we live. Good does indeed triumph over evil.”

Andretti was welcomed Tuesday into the Superman Hall of Heroes, an online initiative aimed at honoring those who make a positive impact on the lives of others. Last year’s inaugural celebrity class included former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, the late actor Christopher Reeve and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and pioneer Jackie Robinson.

Andretti was inducted with TV personality John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”), Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter and teacher of the year Sean McComb. The program also salutes those from all walks of life.

“These are the people they want to recognize,” Andretti said. “It doesn’t have to be a celebrity. It doesn’t have to be something super someone has done, but some of the small things that make a difference. It certainly makes you feel good when you think about all these things. I love positives, and this is certainly one of them. It makes you reflect on the small things in life

“You feel good if you’re in a position to make a difference with somebody, however small it is. It brightens your day. In many ways, it’s like winning. Once you start experiencing that, you want to do it over and over because it just feels right.”

Andretti scored 111 major victories in his career and is the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Formula One title and Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Since retiring after the 1994 Indy 500, he has focused on playing ambassadorial and philanthropic roles, such as raising awareness of the need for volunteers at Meals on Wheels, which delivers prepared food to homebound seniors and those with disabilities.

“What I get out of it is just hugging and smooching some of the ladies and making them smile,” Andretti said. “I come away feeling much better than they do. Some of these individuals, it’s probably the only person they see all day. So you’d like to think I brought a smile there somewhere. Small things like that can make a difference.”

Andretti, 75, also is active in local children’s charities with his wife, Dee Ann. “You try to channel it in areas where you know it’s going to make a difference,” he said. “You try to do those things as the opportunity comes along. These are all the things that at the end of the day, it makes you feel good that I made a little bit of a difference, and that’s meaningful.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).