Verizon IndyCar Series drivers are often asked to sign items for fans’ memorabilia collections. But what kind of memorabilia do the drivers themselves cherish?
A sampling of drivers from the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May provided a wide array of answers when they were asked their most prized piece of memorabilia.
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport: “One of the coolest things I have is something my grandfather, Mario, gave me for my helmet collection: his retirement Speedway helmet, his ‘Arrivederci Speedway’ helmet from the last year he was in competition. I have a Michael Schumacher podium helmet, but Grandpa is definitely first. I’d be in trouble otherwise.” (Marco is shown above with the retro-looking helmet he wore in this year's Indy 500, an homage to the helmet grandfather Mario wore when he won the race in 1969.)
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing: “I have a Bobby Unser painting that’s signed by Bobby and Roger Penske. That’s kind of cool. Something else I have from a U.S. serviceman, he sent me an American flag that flew over the air fields in Afghanistan.”
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing: “A signed Bruce McLaren picture. That’s probably the coolest one. I don’t know what year it’s from. It’s probably from the ’60s.”
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: “I have a windscreen off the first Russian Formula 3000 driver, Viktor Maslov. When I was at one of his races at Donington (England) like 15 years ago, when I was a kid, we both had the same sponsor. He was the first Russian who drove at this level.”
Alex Tagliani, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: “A signed Scott Dixon helmet.”
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “I’ve got Tiger Woods’ first caddie jersey, I knew his caddie ‘Fluff’ (Mike Cowan), and I have the caddie jersey bib that ‘Fluff’ gave to me, signed by Tiger to me, which is pretty unique.”
Matt Brabham, PIRTEK Team Murray: “One of my grandfather Jack’s old trophies. I’ve got a lot of old, cool things. I’ve got an old helmet. All of that stuff is pretty special to me.”
Gabby Chaves, Dale Coyne Racing: “I have a Dan Wheldon (red Puma) boot that he signed for me after his Homestead win in 2006. It’s on one of my trophy shelves.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport: “I have a Michael Schumacher Nomex shirt that I like. I have a cool helmet collection with Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Rubens Barrichello. They all have value to me.”
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing: “It’s partly mine, but to me the coolest piece of racing history that I have is the Rolex Daytona box from when we won the 24 Hours of Daytona that’s signed on the top by all four of us – Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett, Juan Pablo Montoya and myself. The first time I’d run the race and win it and I’m teammates with these guys, and they’d won it before, all of them. So they pull Sharpies out and start signing the boxes.”
Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport: “I had a picture from when I went to my first Indy car race at Fontana (California, Auto Club Speedway) in 2000. I went to that race and printed a picture with Michael Andretti and with Juan Pablo Montoya. I was a little kid. I look at that and it’s good memories.”
Townsend Bell, Andretti Autosport: “I lost it, no, I think it’s in my garage, a Marlboro Team Penske hat that Emerson Fittipaldi and Rick Mears signed for me at Laguna Seca (California) in 1990. I was so nervous to ask for the autograph. I was just a punk fan and snuck my way into pit lane.”
Jack Hawksworth, A.J. Foyt Enterprises: “There was a friend of mine who met Michael Schumacher once and got me a signed picture. I liked it because he was my favorite driver, but I don’t know where it is.”
Stefan Wilson, KV Racing Technology: “I have a panoramic view, it’s like four canvases, of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1911, the first '500' race. It’s black and white. It’s so detailed, you can see the guys walking around and climbing out of their race cars. It’s a photograph that’s in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. I went to the photo department and said, 'Hey, can I get this from on file?' So I printed it off and had it made into four canvas prints. It’s pretty cool.”