IRL: 2005 Indy 500 ticket showcases Rahal, Letterman, Rice

Three's Company on 2005 Indianapolis 500 Ticket Rahal, Letterman join 2004 winner Rice in colorful, elegant design INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004 -- Buddy Rice made room for two friends on the 2005 Indianapolis 500 ticket, in turn...

Three's Company on 2005 Indianapolis 500 Ticket
Rahal, Letterman join 2004 winner Rice in colorful, elegant design

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004 -- Buddy Rice made room for two friends on the 2005 Indianapolis 500 ticket, in turn making some Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.

2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Rice and his Rahal Letterman Racing team owners, Bobby Rahal and David Letterman, are featured on the colorful ticket for the 89th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on May 29, 2005. It's believed this is the first time in Indianapolis 500 history that the reigning race winner shares the front of the ticket with others.

"I still think the whole thing is somewhat unbelievable," Rice said. "To come back to the Speedway and know you're going to be on all the tickets that are going to be handed out is pretty cool. It's just something you never thought would be possible."

Rice, from Phoenix, won the rain-shortened Indianapolis 500 in May under caution. He led 91 of 180 laps in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone for his first Indianapolis 500 victory. Rice earned a record winner's purse of $1,761,740.

The previous year's winning driver has been featured on the Indianapolis 500 ticket every year since 1947, except for the 1981 and 1982 race tickets, which featured stylized designs.

Rahal and Letterman are fitting choices as the first non-drivers to appear on an Indianapolis 500 ticket, as both have deep roots at the Speedway.

Rahal won the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and recorded seven top-10 finishes in 13 starts at Indy.

"Coming back as a champion driver was always good, but winning it as a team owner, you appreciate a little better what goes into it," Rahal said. "So it's a different satisfaction, but a great satisfaction, nonetheless."

Letterman, the iconic late-night television host, is an Indianapolis native who has attended many Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, both as a spectator and team owner.

"With Dave, that's what got him involved in racing and wanting to be a part of it -- he wanted to win the 500," Rice said. "It's just as special for him as everyone else, but maybe more so because he grew up just down the street. He knows everything about it. It's everything he's ever dreamed about. He was given a chance to win because he hooked up with our team, and we were able to do it for him."

Said Rahal about the victory, "I've never seen David that excited about something, and you can tell the importance it has for him because he was truly taken aback by the whole thing."

Tickets and information for the 2005 Indianapolis 500 are available by contacting the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or logging on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

-ims-

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Series INDYCAR