SMITH WINS "RACE TO REPLACE" AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY Famed cyclist Lance Armstrong leads public lap to benefit I.U. Cancer Center INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 -- Amateur cyclist A.J. Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the "Race...
SMITH WINS "RACE TO REPLACE" AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Famed cyclist Lance Armstrong leads public lap to benefit I.U. Cancer Center
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2006 -- Amateur cyclist A.J. Smith of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the "Race to Replace" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 12.
The Race to Replace, a fundraising event for Indiana University Cancer Center and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, drew a total of 365 cyclists from 33 states that competed in four age brackets. Smith won the 25-34 age bracket with a time of 52 minutes, 42.4 seconds in the 10-lap, 25-mile race.
"It was awesome," said Smith. "Once I heard that Discovery was putting on this race, I knew I had to enter. Despite four crashes and two knee injuries I suffered this year, I just knew I had to compete."
As the overall winner of the Race to Replace, Smith earns the honor of wearing the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (DCPCT) jersey and racing as an honorary member of the Team for one day in the U.S. Pro Championships on Sept. 1 in Greenville, S.C.
The winners of each age category were: age 18-24, Bennet van der Genugt, of Bloomington, Ind., at 57:29.0; age 25-34, Smith, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at 52:42.4; age 34-49, Christopher Gottwald, of Vineland, N.J., at 55:22.6; and age 50-plus, Daniel Waite, of Dayton, Ohio, at 1:00:52.1.
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999-2005, also led approximately 1,000 riders age 13 and older on a fun "Lap with Lance" around the Speedway. Armstrong returned to the Speedway a little over two months after serving as pace car driver for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on May 28.
"Driving around in the pace car was one of those top-five moments, and even the practice laps can't prepare you for that once you finally get out there with hundreds of thousands of people," Armstrong said. "It was a rush. They told me I could take a few practice laps this afternoon, so I was excited.
"I have a special relationship with this city, having been treated (for cancer) here in 1996 and I've had the opportunity to come back over the years. But to come back in a higher-profile capacity with the '500' and then again today, I never complain about requests or opportunities to go to Indianapolis."
The public ride around the track had a completely unexpected and memorable twist, when Tim O'Brien, of Mason City, Iowa proposed to his girlfriend of one year, Chris Gade, on the Speedway's famed "Yard of Bricks."
The couple traveled to Indianapolis to participate in the event because they are big cycling enthusiasts, but O'Brien said the significance of the Speedway and its history also motivated him to choose the Race to Replace to propose to Gade. She said "yes."
"We have absolutely exceeded our expectations in every way," said Terry Angstadt, vice president, Marketing for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "People showed up, they contributed, they took part, and it was a fantastic day. It was a big win for The Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Indiana University Cancer Center."
Discovery Communications Inc.'s Race to Replace is a multi-tiered promotional campaign that launched in April 2006 to generate interest in cycling. The Race included the Aug. 12 event, original Webisodes at www.race2replace.com and promotional spots across all of Discovery Communications, Inc.'s various networks.