Panther to Debut Camo Livery on Wheldon's National Guard Car at Indianapolis Team Honors Late Lloyd Ruby with Style of No. 4; Car Runs at Indianapolis Wednesday Afternoon INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2009) -- When practice opens Wednesday for...
Panther to Debut Camo Livery on Wheldon's National Guard Car at
Team Honors Late Lloyd Ruby with Style of No. 4; Car Runs at Indianapolis Wednesday Afternoon
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2009) -- When practice opens Wednesday for the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, IndyCar Series participants will get their first look at the new livery sported on Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon's No. 4 National Guard Honda Dallara.
Or, maybe they won't be able to see it at all.
The team announced today that Wheldon's car will be full National Guard ACU digital camo, parking the trademark red, white and blue paint scheme that has become the signature livery of the Panther No. 4 since the National Guard was introduced as a primary sponsor in 2008. The new paint scheme will be featured in this month's Indianapolis 500, the race at Watkins Glen -- held on the Fourth of July weekend -- and two other IndyCar Series events this season.
The style of the car's No. 4 was changed as well, to honor the late Lloyd Ruby, who passed away earlier this year.
"Obviously anytime you get to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, which is in my opinion the biggest sporting event in the world, it's a tremendous honor," Wheldon said. "But being able to compete in that great event with the colors of the National Guard and in a camo No. 4 car is extremely special, and an important responsibility for all of us at Panther Racing."
In addition, Wheldon is wearing a camouflage drivers' suit, made out of the same camo Nomex fire-retardant material National Guard Soldiers wear while serving the Nation.
"I don't think I look too bad in camo myself," Wheldon joked.
Barnes also changed the style of Panther's No. 4 to honor the late Lloyd Ruby, the 18-time Indianapolis 500 starter who passed away in March of this year. Ruby started the 1969 Indianapolis 500 with the No. 4, and Barnes used the style of Ruby's number that season to honor the popular Texan.
"It's always important to recognize the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all the people who have been a part of making both the track itself and the Indianapolis 500 such a celebrated and historic event," Panther team owner John Barnes said. "Obviously we're thrilled to have a camouflage car this month to celebrate the over 367,000 Soldiers in the National Guard, but we also wanted to honor Lloyd Ruby and what he's meant to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins on Wednesday for veteran drivers, but both Wheldon's teammate Scott Sharp -- driving the No. 16 Tequila Patron entry -- and the team's Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann, will be on track today.
Wheldon will be gearing to qualify for the 93rd Indy 500 during Saturday's pole day qualifications. The Englishman is the 2005 winner of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and has qualified on the front row in three of his six career starts at Indianapolis. Panther finished runner-up in the race last year with former driver Vitor Meira. The team qualified eighth last season with the No. 4 National Guard entry.
This month will mark the first time Panther has had multiple entries in the '500' since 2007, when it ran Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and John Andretti.