Looking Out for No. 1

Posted by Iannucci | 4/07/2006 | 0 comments »
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Throught the brief history of auto racing there have been distinct rewards for being the best. For a championship driver, the treasure chest of victory included a shiny trophy, a substantial check, the adoration of the fans and possibly a product endorsement or two. There was also something else in the chest, something that would serve as a constant reminder to all competitors who was the reigning kind of racing. That something was the right to bear the “1” on the racecar.

These days NASCAR has shown the power of other numbers, making “3” and “24” more meaningful than whoever drives the “1”. And so, in other racing series the same thing is being applied, and the IRL is no exception. While this season’s champion Dan Wheldon switched teams, 2004 series champion Tony Kannan kept driving “11” due to his continued sponsorship with 7-Eleven.

Another evolution in the numbers of racing is granting the number right to the owner. So it is that the 2005 IndyCar Series champion may in fact not be Dan Wheldon, but Andretti Green Racing owner Michael Andretti. Following this logic all the way through you can now see how a driver who hasn’t raced in three years will be driving with the big “1” come Memorial Day weekend.

Also of note, should Michael’s son Marco qualify he will become the fifth Andretti family member to participate in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.