Story by Lucas Mayer
The Indianapolis 500 is a special time for any driver privileged enough to take part in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Ryan Hunter-Reay is no different. This will be the fifth time he will attempt to take home the Borg-Warner trophy after a disappointing 2011 run.
Racing for his current team, Andretti Autosport, the Texas native did not qualify last year. He eventually replaced Bruno Junqueira, placing 23rd for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Hunter-Reay’s best finish was his first year in the big race, finishing sixth in 2008.
There are reasons for high expectations in Hunter-Reay’s camp come Sunday. Not only did he qualify third, but Andretti Autosport appears to be one of the strongest teams in the field. “I’m feeling good, we tried a bunch of different stuff in a short amount of time, so we got a good read on the car and I think it’s really good,” said Hunter-Reay.
There is no time for breaks as Hunter-Reay and his team are trying to constantly improve in an effort to gain every possible competitive advantage that could lead to a millisecond difference. What happens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is impossible to foresee and gaining a small amount of time can be the difference between second place and immortality.
Hunter-Reay said “I wish I had time to relax, every minute is accounted for. Andretti Autosport is a great team , they have a lot of great sponsors and we are staying really really busy.”
Despite his intense focus, racing took a backseat Saturday night in downtown Indianapolis. Hunter-Reay hosted the “Yellow Party” which is a fundraiser designed to benefit the fight against cancer. He has a special connection to the charity behind the event, Racing for Cancer. In 2009, Hunter-Reay lost his mother to colon cancer and feels it is his obligation to help fight the battle against cancer and do his part to save lives. The event featured a live auction which was titled “The Greatest Spectacle in Silent Auctions” and featured an array of Indy Car memorabilia.
Many Indianapolis 500 drivers attended the benefit to support Hunter-Reay and the charity.
“I feel really good about how everything went last night,” he said. “It’s nice to get it in on the race weekend, it’s a big deal to have a turnout like that and we raised a lot of money for the fight against cancer.”
No matter the outcome of the race, Hunter-Reay can feel good about a weekend where he helped change the lives of those in need. Although, a fresh glass of milk in Victory Circle wouldn’t hurt.