Pulling a San Francisco trolley car into a crowd full of camera flashes and cheering fans is no easy task, even for racing legend Mario Andretti. But after a few jerks and stops, he realized that, when the gas is punched hard enough, the trolley moves like a race car.
The scene outside the Union Square Macy’s was full of excitement on Thursday as Andretti was joined by IndyCar Series drivers Danica Patrick, Will Power and many others to promote the inaugural year of the IZOD IndyCar Series Mario Andretti Road Championship.
“It’s fun to be part of something meaningful to people; the Indy Series is a big deal and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Patrick said. “It’s great watching people walk up and down the street and taking notice of something like this, hopefully it will help grow the series.”
On Sunday, the IndyCar Series will return to Sonoma’s Infineon Raceway for its annual Grand Prix race. According to John Cardinale, Vice President of Marketing at Infineon Raceway, around 25 drivers from 12 different countries will be participating in the race, including Sausalito’s J.R. Hiltebrand, who will be making his second overall IndyCar start and first appearance in Sonoma.
Danica Patrick, the No. 7 GoDaddy.com driver, has had a tough 2010 season thus far, but hopes that things will turn around in Sonoma, as she has had success there in the past.
“Overall it hasn’t been a great season, mostly in the form of standings,” Patrick said. “The series is harder than ever. The field is so tight and everybody is so good that every hundredth of a second counts.”
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power, who left Infineon Raceway in 2009 in a medical helicopter after a season-
ending crash left him with a broken back, is looking to complete this year’s race on top of the podium.
“I tested last week and was nervy going up that hill every time,” Power said. “It’s been a long road to recovery, but Infineon’s one of my favorite tracks and I’d love to come back and win.”
Power enters Sunday’s race as the series points leader and will be awarded with the IZOD IndyCar Series Mario Andretti Road Championship trophy, which was on display outside Macy’s on Thursday.
In celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500-mile race in 2011, Geary Street hosted six historic cars from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, including the 1911 Marmon “Wasp” that won the first Indy 500 in a total of six hours and 42 minutes — this year’s Indy 500 winner, Dario Franchitti, finished in about 3 hours, 5 minutes.
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
WHEN: Sunday, 2 p.m.
SITE: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma
TRACK: Road course, 2.303 miles
Race distance: 184.2 miles, 80 laps