Michael Andretti - State of Indiana Award

Indiana State Sen. Tom Wyss recalled attending his first Indianapolis 500 in 1952 with his father.

“He would save all year to take my brothers and me to the ‘500’ and all we got were infield tickets, and when I got my career going I would take my dad. We had better seats, but I’ll never forget that first year,” the representative from Fort Wayne told Michael Andretti during a presentation of Senate resolutions recognizing the IZOD IndyCar Series team for its accomplishments during the 2012 season and its contributions to the state.

Wyss founded the Indiana Motorsports Caucus, whose purpose was to make sure the legislature understood the importance of motorsports to Indiana economically and through international media attention.

Indiana’s motorsports industry of about 1,600 companies contributes more than 23,000 jobs paying an average annual wage of $63,000, according to a recent Purdue University study. The industry also is indirectly responsible for 421,000 Hoosier jobs. Andretti Autosport, which competes in the IZOD IndyCar Series and all three rungs of the Mazda Rod to Indy ladder, employs more than 100 skilled people at its Indianapolis shop.   

“The greatest thing about it is that every part of this state has a racing entity, whether it’s a track, a race shop or manufacturer,” Wyss said. “One of the reasons we wanted to start the motorsports caucus is to remind everyone that this is the motorsports capital of the world, not North Carolina.

“To the average person when they go to a race they see the car on the track but don’t recognize all that goes on behind the scenes, the economic impact teams such as Andretti Autosport have in the state.”

Added Indiana Gov. Mike Pence: “Winning performances on the track are not only a Hoosier tradition, but an industry and culture that help drive the Hoosier economic engine. Racing companies continue to find that Indiana’s pro-growth policies and central location perform for their business, making out state the ideal home to start their engines.”

Andretti Autosport and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay also were recognized for winning the 2012 series championship. James Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay have won races of this season, while Marco Andretti is one of only three drives to record top-10 finishes in each of the three races. The next stop is the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle on May 5.

Free Day at Belle Isle

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix  and Comerica Bank announced that May 31 will be Free Prix Day.

In addition to free admission to watch IZOD IndyCar Series practice and qualifications, fans will be able to visit the paddock and garage areas courtesy of Comerica Bank. In addition, live entertainment will feature contemporary R&B singer/songwriter Dwele, who will perform on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage at 5:45 p.m.

Purchase race weekend tickets at www.DetroitGP.com.

Drive on Mid-Ohio circuit during FanFest

Fans are invited to FanFest, a free, open house-style event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 3.

Gates open at 4 p.m. and the event includes parade laps in their own cars, pace car rides and an autocross show. FanFest coincides with Mid-Ohio’s advance ticket deadline. Get further information and tickets to the Aug. 2-4 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio at  www.midohio.com.

Two-for-one deal to enjoy Milwaukee events

Summerfest and Milwaukee IndyFest are offering fans significant savings to enjoy two of Milwaukee's hottest summer events when they purchase the 2-For-$33 Rev Up the Summer Ticket Package. The package includes one Summerfest General Admission ticket for anytime during Summerfest 2013, and one Milwaukee IndyFest General Admission ticket for the day of the ticket-holder’s choice (June 14 or race day June 15).

Purchase tickets at www.milwaukeeindyfest.com now through June 3.

Of note

Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Zach Veach will introduce recording artists Gavin Degraw and Jon McLaughlin during the 500 Festival “Rev Your Engines” kickoff celebration April 27 on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. … VIZIO and Hulu will be associate sponsors on the No. 8 NTT DATA car driven by Ryan Briscoe for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams in the Indianapolis 500.