INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski

Mario Andretti spins out during IndyCar two-seater ride at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Racing legend Mario Andretti takes pride in giving race fans and VIP’s a high-speed thrill ride in an IndyCar as driver of the Indy Racing Experience two-seater.

It’s a specially-prepared IndyCar that has a seat behind the driver and is able to replicate the thrill and sensation of the machines that compete in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“I like to make sure the rider feels like I’ve left nothing on the table,” Andretti told NBCSports.com.

But on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, the 79-year-old Andretti was giving a business associate a ride around the high-banked oval when the car broke loose coming out of Turn 2 and spun out.

Andretti, the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), the Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula One World Championship (1978), was able to maintain control of the car and keep it from hitting the outside wall. The car drifted across the track and made light contact with the infield retaining wall.

Neither Andretti nor his passenger were injured.

“I wanted to make a change on the car, and I should have taken the time and I didn’t,” Andretti said later. “I thought I would ride it out and it caught me out coming out of Turn 2.

“The passenger loved the ride. He hopes we have a video of it. It’s actually the son of my business partner, M.J. Castello. I know the kid well.”

The “Two-Seater” has a longer center of gravity and thousands have paid for the experience of racing around various road courses, street courses and speedways on the NTT IndyCar Series.

“It’s serious business,” Andretti said. “That’s why you sign a release of liability. Look at the millions of miles we have run and have never hurt anybody. The protection in the car is amazing and everybody is fine.

“I thought I had the car saved, but I didn’t. It hit the inside wall a little bit, but no big deal. I’m safe, I don’t want to hurt myself or anybody … That’s just the way it is.”

According to one of the co-owners of the Indy Racing Experience, over 120,000 rides have been given to guests with no injuries — a rather impressive statistic. The rides are only available to guests and VIPs 18 and over.

 

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).