Oregon museum exhibit honors Mario Andretti

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With the 50th anniversary of Mario Andretti’s lone Indianapolis 500 victory being celebrated this year, an Oregon motorsports museum has recently opened an extensive exhibit honoring the life and career of the racing legend.

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The exhibit, appropriately titled Mario Andretti: Racing Royalty, opened on March 23 and runs through November 2 at the World of Speed Motorsports Museum in the Portland suburb of Wilsonville, OR.

The exhibit features eleven vehicles from Andretti’s racing career, covering a variety of different disciplines, and also includes exclusive video interviews with Mario, brother Aldo, son Michael and grandson Marco Andretti, as well as interviews with a variety of other racing personalities telling stories about Andretti, his legacy, and his contributions to the sport.

Museum Curator Ron Hugeli was one of the key individuals who helped organize the exhibit, and he recently explained to NBC Sports why he felt that it was time for the museum to construct an exhibit honoring Andretti.

“He is a person that has excelled and been a winner in eleven different forms of motorsport,” Hugeli said. “He’s had over five decades of racing competitively. He is the only race car driver, in my knowledge, whose name is part of the American lexicon. How many times have you heard somebody say, ‘Who do you think you are, Mario Andretti?’

“The man was able to get into any kind of car and be successful. Maybe not master it the first time, but boy, I tell you, give him a little bit of time and he’d be at the top of the game.”

The eleven cars from Andretti’s career that are featured in the exhibit are:

• 1949 Hudson Modified (Mario’s first race car)

• 1950 Hillegass TQ Midget

• 1955 Hillegass Sprint Car

• 1964 Kuzma Indy Roadster

• 1967 Ford Fairlane Stock Car (a recreation of Mario’s Daytona 500 Winner)

• 1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV J4 (12 Hours of Sebring Winner)

• 1969 Grant King (Pikes Peak Winning Car)

• 1972 Viceroy Champ Dirt Car

• 1979 IROC Camaro

• 1981 Wildcat Indy Car (from the controversial finish in the 1981 Indianapolis 500)

• 1994 Lola Indy Car (Used in the IMAX film, SuperSpeedway)

Mario Andretti: Racing Royalty is open every Tuesday-Sunday at the World of Speed Museum, and Hugeli said that Mario will make appearances at the exhibit in late August when IndyCar returns to Portland International Raceway.

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Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.