Former Indy car competitor chosen as ABC's next "Bachelor"

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Beginning next weekend with the exciting, championship-deciding GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, fans of ABC’s “The Bachelor” will get a closer look at the Verizon IndyCar Series.

That’s because Arie Luyendyk Jr., a former Indy car driver who pilots the Indy Racing Experience two-seat Indy car that gives high-speed thrill rides to VIPs and celebrities, has been named “The Bachelor’s” next leading man. Luyendyk will appear on Season 22 of the reality television show, which premieres in January.

“It’s been a little surreal,” Luyendyk said Thursday when the announcement was made on “Good Morning America.” “It just kind of hit me right now that I’m here.”

But before “The Bachelor” starts filming, Luyendyk, who has raced in the Indianapolis 500 and is the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will attend the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept 17 at Sonoma Raceway. He’ll do some work, too, driving the two-seat Indy car for VIP rides.

No doubt, he’ll create a different kind of buzz in the paddock as racing fans speculate about which woman Luyendyk will hand the final rose to at the end of “The Bachelor.” On “Good Morning America,” he got cheers when he said he’s looking for someone who is independent, strong and gentle.

Count Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles among the fans interested in Luyendyk’s upcoming reality TV journey.

“We have watched Arie grow up around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Luyendyk name is pretty important to our track’s history,” Boles said. “We are excited to see how this season of ‘The Bachelor’ unfolds, and we will look forward to welcoming Arie and his new love to the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 next May!”

Luyendyk, who turns 36 on Sept. 18, is no stranger to looking for love, or getting his heart broken, on reality television. The popular Luyendyk was runner-up on Emily Maynard’s season of “The Bachelorette” in 2012.

News that Luyendyk is the next Bachelor came as a surprise to the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock because he kept quiet about his talks with the show. So quiet that he didn’t tell his parents.

“We’ve kept in touch over the last few years, but this just fit perfectly – the timing of this really fit for me,” Luyendyk said.

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