An IndyCar traveling at 235-plus mph can outrun just about anything - except the sun. That's the message Josef Newgarden is spreading at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on this Wednesday Community Day at the Brickyard.
On the one day a year that real fans can drive their own personal vehicles on this famed 2.5 mile oval raceway, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's ace driver is delivering a very personal message to fans young and old: protect your skin when you're exposed to the harsh energy and scalding rays of the solar scorcher.
"I've met a lot of people and heard their stories about melanoma and skin cancer," Newgarden said. "It surprised me how prevalent the disease is and how devastating it can be to people and their families."
Newgarden pointed out that he personally has a skin protection regimen and reinforces the need of proper skin protection among his team members and crew.
"My team guys have sun block on all day long, lathered on thick to protect ourselves as well as possible."
Today's educational effort was directed specifically towards children and parents to practice sunburn and exposure prevention ahead of and during this weekend's Indianapolis 500 mile race.
"Everything we're doing today is to get kids involved, and aware of sun safety, when they're watching the race," said Newgarden. "And Community Day is the best day of all to get up close and for the drivers to meet the fans. Every driver in our series wants to engage with the fans, to get to know who they are, what they do, how're they are planning to spend their race day."
Outrun the Sun, a group created to promote awareness of skin disease and sun safety among race fans at Indianapolis and everywhere brought the rising young star Newgarden to the Pagoda Plaza today for its "Sunburn Stomp". Imagine the "Harlem Shake" and you get the idea, only with a heavy dose of SPF30 on the exterior.
Newgarden pointed out that it's not hard to tell if you're reaching maximum levels of sun exposure by handing out small ultraviolet-detecting wristbands that change color when accumulated to a full level of sunlight. In addition, May is National Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness month.
"If I could say just one thing to the fans out there, it is "Let's get into great health together," said Newgarden. "It's never too late to get into great health."
Anita Day, executive director of Outrun the Sun, said the outreach is part of the organization's educational efforts to make more race fans aware of the peril of sunburn and excessive sun exposure. As every race fan knows it gets awfully warm and the unprotected skin incredibly red when a race as lengthy as the Indy 500 goes the distance on a bright, sunny Indiana day.
"I wasn't really aware until I met Anita of the breadth of the problem," said Newgarden. "This is a cancer that needs greater awareness, and it's very relevant to the race community because we're out in the sun all the time."
Outrun the Sun is sponsoring a series of aerobic exercise events (a 5 mile run, a 5K run and walk and a single 1 mile walk) on June 8th in Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park in Indianapolis to further its cause.