Following the deluge at NOLA Motorsports Park, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion and two-time defending Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner Ryan Hunter-Reay headed from outside New Orleans to Alabama, to promote this year’s race at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham.
Hunter-Reay wasn’t headed for the track though.
It was a trip to Tuscaloosa – Crimson Tide country – where “RHR,” Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and WBC world heavyweight boxing title holder Deontay Wilder (this year’s race grand marshal) all met up to exchange gear and learn more about their various sports.
Via AL.com, the trio exchanged helmets, with an IndyCar helmet going to Saban, and Alabama replica helmets issued for Hunter-Reay and Wilder.
“I’m a Dolphins fan and we liked him when he was there,” Hunter-Reay said of Saban, noting his tenure with the Miami Dolphins. “We hated for him to leave.”
Saban and Wilder both spoke to USA Today’s Jeff Olson. The former noted his desire to one day attend the Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby and said he has “tremendous respect” for the drivers; Hunter-Reay extended an invitation to the first event. Meanwhile Wilder took pics in the IndyCar two-seater as he prepares for the day, and praised driver fitness.
Here’s a selection of pictures from the day (all photos: Nigel Kinrade/LAT for Honda):