(NN&V Staff) – The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday was won by a car honoring the 100th birthday of America’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan.
“Congratulations to driver Dan Wheldon on winning the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 at Motor Speedway,” said Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration Stewart McLaurin. “What a historic and poetic moment — that on the 100th anniversary of America’s most famous race, this car and team observed the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth by affixing the seal of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Centennial Celebration on its nose — and won!”
As a presidential candidate, Reagan drove the pace car in the 1976 Indianapolis 500. Ronald Reagan was a fan of auto racing, and established strong relationships with several major racing series.
In 1984, he became the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race. From aboard Air Force One, Reagan gave the “Gentlemen, start your engines” command for the Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla. After landing at Daytona International Airport, Reagan joined the television broadcasters calling the race, harkening back to his days as a sports radio announcer.
A replica of the winning Indy car is now on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif, through Oct. 23, 2011, as part of the exhibit “Start Your Engines: American Race Cars at the Ronald Reagan Library.” The exhibit and sponsorships have been made possible by the generous support of driver Lyn St. James, Hendrick Motorsports, Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) and Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records – and former Lt. Governor of California.
Lt. Governor Curb owned the car Richard Petty drove to his 200th victory in the 1984 Firecracker 400, which Reagan attended.
“Congratulations to Dan and the entire team,” Former CA Lt. Governor Mike Curb said. “I’m proud to have been a part of Ronald Reagan’s racing legacy ever since he was involved in the Firecracker 400.”