The special relationship between fans and drivers has been a hallmark of the Indianapolis 500 since the inaugural race in 1911. But it never gets old to learn of a bond formed between a current INDYCAR driver and a passionate follower of the sport.
Tony Laurenzana, 24, from Bedford, Ind., recently shared this story about his history with IMS and his passion for 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon.
I grew up at IMS, from 1986 to 1995. My dad was one of the contracted electricians for Moran Electric during that timeframe. I presumably was the first baby in the garages after they were rebuilt in 1986, as I was born in Feburary 1986, but that cannot be confirmed. My dad had an office in the garages, and growing up there for nine years gave me a ton of memories. Meeting drivers, hanging out all day with my mom at the track while dad worked, all developing a passion for auto racing.
I now live in Bedford, Ind. My mom works as a dental assistant down here. The dentist’s daughter married someone within the racing industry, and he knows a ton of drivers in many racing series. They are currently very good friends with Scott and Emma Dixon.
The dentist’s daughter works as a hygienist in her father’s office and was cleaning my teeth in September 2010. In between the suction being in my mouth, we talked about our experiences at IMS. My mom had mentioned to me before that they were guests at the Dixon’s wedding, vice-versa, so I thought it was fun that I knew someone close to a famous race car driver.
After the 2008 Indianapolis 500, I purchased the 1/18 scale race-won Dixon car from the IMS Gift Shop. I started using it as a centerpiece for my living room, since I recently bought my house and furnished the living room in IMS memorabilia, past and present.
While at my appointment, the dentist’s daughter mentioned the cool photos I took of Scott’s car during the 2009 Indy 500, and I told her I bought the car, etc. She offered to take the car and have Scott autograph it when he and Emma got back from Homestead in October. She then told me whatever I had, go ahead and give it to her and Scott would sign it. I had my ticket from 2009 with Scott’s image on it, and the lanyard and ticket holder with the Indy 500 logo on it.
Once Scott got back, over dinner he was handed an IMS Gift Shop bag full of those things, and he signed each one. About two weeks later, I received my car, lanyard, ticket holder and ticket — all signed. I rushed out to buy a thank you card, and added a personal message. She delivered it to both Scott and Emma.
Before this I really wasn’t much of a fan of his; I never knew why. I have always liked Dario Franchitti since his days in CART/Champ Car. I can at least say Scott has gained a new fan. He could’ve easily said, “Don’t bother me with that.”
They are still in my living room predominantly displayed for all my guests to see, and a story to tell.