INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 20, 2001 - Indiana's Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp has been named an Indy Racing League spokeswoman, league officials announced May 20.
Irwin-Mellencamp is the wife of music legend and Indiana-born John Mellencamp. She will become the first woman to pace the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27.
As spokeswoman for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, Irwin-Mellencamp will participate in product endorsements and promotional appearances on behalf of the league.
"I am delighted that I was chosen by Indy Racing to be their spokeswoman," said Irwin-Mellencamp. "These drivers and everyone involved in the Indy Racing League value competition and illustrate that racing is not only a part of this country's heritage, but is one of the most exciting pastimes in America."
Since its creation in 1994, the Indy Racing League has grown to a 13-race season - anchored by the world-famous Indianapolis 500 - in 12 major metropolitan markets for 2001.
"The intensity of Indy Racing, with side-by-side racing at speeds well above 200 mph on some tracks, makes it the most exciting auto sport in the U.S.," said Irwin-Mellencamp. "You see one race, and you are hooked."
Irwin-Mellencamp's interest in racing started when she attended dirt-track events with her father while growing up in Pennsylvania. She has continued her interest by attending the Indianapolis 500 and the SAP United States Grand Prix.
Irwin-Mellencamp envisions her role with the Indy Racing League as opening new audiences to the magic of the sport.
"I look forward to visiting all of the cities on the Indy Racing League circuit and spreading the word on just how great this sport is for all ages," said Irwin-Mellencamp.
She will do lifestyle segments on the popular "Road to Indy" program telecast on ESPN, broadcast vignettes on behalf of the League and make personal appearances.
Irwin-Mellencamp, a native of Gilbertsville, Pa., began her career as a fashion model at age 16. Her career includes work for designers such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Victoria's Secret. She has appeared on the cover of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Self and Elite.
In 1991, when she was 20, Irwin-Mellencamp appeared with John Mellencamp on the cover of his album, "Whenever We Wanted." They were married soon after and reside in Bloomington, Ind., with their two sons, Hud and Speck.