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Fans celebrate 101 days to the 101st Indianapolis 500

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Almost 2,000 fans gathered Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a pizza party celebrating 101 Days until the 101st Indianapolis 500.

The day began with an unveiling of the ticket for 2017 race, featuring defending winner Alexander Rossi. The ticket features a red, white, and blue logo for the 2017 event at the top left while Rossi is featured in the center, adorning the winner’s wreath and receiving a milk bath at the hands of Bryan Herta amidst celebrations with Michael Andretti and other Andretti-Herta Autosport team members.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 29: Alexander Rossi of the United States pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line to win the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

“This year’s ticket features a spectacular design, and it will be a great keepsake for fans for years to come,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles. “We’re grateful to our friends at Cummins, who share our passion for racing and the Indy 500, for hosting us this morning and creating such a special memory for Alexander, as well as the many community partners and Verizon IndyCar Series fans in attendance.”

Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, and Josef Newgarden were among the drivers in attendance, signing autographs and greeting the fans in attendance. Among the activities that highlighted the evening was a simulator that allowed attendees to take virtual laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Last year’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 was a flying success, with the event completely selling out and featuring one of the most exciting 500-mile races ever held. Thirteen drivers swapped the lead 54 times, with Rossi running out of fuel as he approached the start/finish line to claim the victory.

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.