Notes: EDM superstar Zedd to ride with Mario Andretti before Indy 500

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Global EDM superstar Zedd will take the ride of his life in Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports with racing legend Mario Andretti to kick off the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 28.

Immediately following the thrill ride, when Zedd and Andretti will help lead the field of 33 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers to the green flag to start “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” Zedd will be transported to the Indy 500 Snake Pit Presented by Coors Light to perform before a huge crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

When he takes the ride Sunday, Zedd joins a select group of music, sports and film stars who have been passengers in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports. Previous participants include Lady Gaga, who rode with Andretti last year before the start of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, and Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg, who took the ride in 2010 when the program began.

Zedd’s ride and subsequent performance connects the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day sporting event, and its spectacular, sold-out EDM show, which attracts thousands of young fans to the Snake Pit annually on Race Day. The unique event features a festival-like atmosphere with a unique twist: It takes place inside Turn 3 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the headlining acts performing while the Indianapolis 500 is taking place.

The activation also supports an Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Verizon IndyCar Series strategy to market race events to a younger audience, said C.J. O’Donnell, chief marketing officer, Hulman Motorsports.

“The Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been working with our partners like Honda to attract a new generation of fans to our events,” O’Donnell said. “The Snake Pit is a massive success and an absolutely unique experience that can’t be found elsewhere. Like IndyCar and the Indy 500, it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

“By putting Zedd in Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, we connect Snake Pit fans with the fastest and most daring sport in the world.”

Zedd and Andretti will meet immediately before getting into the Fastest Seat in Sports, which occurs at the start of the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 at 12:20 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

Zedd released his debut LP “Clarity” in 2012 to critical acclaim. The album’s lead single, “Spectrum,” earned massive global attention, soaring to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Song chart and ultimately earning Dance Club Song of the Year as well as iTunes Breakthrough Album of the Year (Dance).

In 2015, Zedd released his second studio album, “True Colors,” led by the smash hit “I Want You to Know” featuring Selena Gomez. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs chart and was certified platinum. Zedd has been named both a Rolling Stone and MTV “Artist to Watch” and has performed at top festivals, including Coachella, Lollapalooza and Electric Zoo. He also has collaborated with top artists, including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

Drivers meeting provides final instructions

Drivers participating in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil received final instructions and awards Saturday in the public drivers’ meeting, the final race activity at the track before “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi and Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian co-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta each accepted a “Baby Borg” trophy from Scott Gallett, vice president of marketing for BorgWarner, for being the winning driver and car owner at the 100th Indianapolis 500. The Baby Borg is a miniature replica of the famed Borg-Warner Trophy, which bears the bas-relief likeness, name and average speed of every Indianapolis 500 winner.

Andretti and Herta also received the winning car owner’s ring from Gord Knapp, president of CEO of Bridgestone Americas.

Curt Bruns of Jostens also presented all 33 drivers in this year’s race with starters’ rings. Indianapolis 500 Pace Car driver, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, also was recognized just before the starters’ rings were presented.

STEAM Sports Group founder Bob Dickinson and general manager John Clamme and NXG Youth Motorsports board member Tracy Barnes each received a Legends of the Indianapolis 500 Award of $10,000 from Firestone to continue their work with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design, Mathematics) education programs centered around motorsports with students.

American Dairy Association’s Deb Osza presented the Louis Meyer Winners Drink Milk Award to Rossi for his victory in the 2016 race.

The late Florence Henderson’s family was presented a commemorative brick from the Hulman-George family, for recognition and thanks for Henderson’s devotion to the Indianapolis 500 and for singing “God Bless America” during pre-race ceremonies for many years.

Brian Barnhart, Verizon IndyCar Series race director and INDYCAR vice president of competition, concluded the drivers’ meeting by discussing race rules and guidelines with the drivers.

Indy Lights driver Matheus Leist was recognized at the start of the ceremony for winning the Freedom 100 on Friday at IMS.

Montoya wins could benefit charity

Juan Pablo Montoya has won half of his starts in the Indianapolis 500. A third win could prove to be valuable to a charity.

Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler and primary sponsor of Montoya’s No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, announced it will donate $222,222 to Paralyzed Veterans of America if Montoya is victorious in the 101st running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. 

Even if Montoya is not able to produce his third career win at Indy, Fitzgerald will contribute to Paralyzed Veterans with a minimum donation of $22,222 to benefit the veterans organization.

“This race provides a perfect opportunity to do something great for a veteran-focused group on a weekend that is all about honoring our military, both past and present,” said Fitzgerald founder Tommy Fitzgerald Sr. “We are an American owned and American made company and supporting the military is very important to us. We believe this is a special way to build on our sponsorship of Juan and the No. 22 team at the Indy 500 and do something positive for Paralyzed Veterans.”

The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 will mark the third race this season that Fitzgerald has sponsored one of Team Penske’s Verizon IndyCar Series cars. Josef Newgarden took Fitzgerald to victory lane at Barber Motorsports Park a few weeks ago, while Montoya finished 10th in last week’s INDYCAR Grand Prix driving the Fitzgerald Chevy.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease.

“Paralyzed Veterans of America is honored that the Fitzgerald family has included us in this special opportunity at the Indy 500," said National President, Al Kovach, Jr. " We wish Juan Pablo Montoya the best of luck at the ”Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” This weekend is also a time for our nation to remember all of our fallen soldiers and their families. We want to thank Team Penske and the Fitzgerald family for their commitment to supporting and honoring disabled veterans and their families this Memorial Day."

Of note

It won’t be hard to find James Hinchcliffe’s pit box on race day. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver’s box has been labeled “The Mayor James Hinchcliffe 5 Team Arrow.”

From the fans