IRL: Michaeal Andretti countdown to Indy

Retirement celebration to include collectibles and special events. HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 1, 2003) -- With less than 90 days remaining before he retires from active competition, auto racing legend Michael Andretti announced today that he is...

Retirement celebration to include collectibles and special events.

HOMESTEAD, Florida (March 1, 2003) -- With less than 90 days remaining before he retires from active competition, auto racing legend Michael Andretti announced today that he is issuing a limited edition autograph card and will introduce a line of collectibles and memorabilia as part of his efforts to encourage race fans to join him in counting down the days until his final appearance in the Indianapolis 500.

Introducing a program titled Michael Andretti's Countdown to Indy, the racing veteran, who is now in his twentieth season of competition, officially began counting down the days until the Indy 500, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he is competing this weekend with Andretti Green Racing's Team 7-Eleven. Andretti introduced the first in a line of Countdown to Indy collectibles and limited edition items that fans can purchase at Andretti's Signature Line merchandise trailer at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend as well as through Andretti's personal website www.andretti.com. Among those Countdown to Indy items that are immediately available are t-shirts, polo shirts, hats and lapel pins. Limited edition diecast cars and lithographs as well as other items, will be made available in the weeks leading up to Andretti's final race.

Along with this weekend's Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series season opener at Homestead- Miami Speedway, Andretti will also compete at the Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23 and the Indy Japan 300 on April 13, before beginning final preparations for the Indianapolis 500 which is scheduled for May 25. As part of the countdown activities scheduled at his last four races, Andretti will also issue 500 limited edition autograph cards at each event.

"The limited edition autograph cards are only available at Indy Racing League's official autograph session at each track," says Andretti. "I wanted on-site fans to have an opportunity to leave with something special as a way of thanking them for supporting me and my new team and wishing me well as I get ready for my last few races."

After nineteen full seasons of competitive racing, Andretti announced in late January that he would be retiring after the 2003 Indianapolis 500 in order to focus his energy on developing his newest venture, Andretti Green Racing, with partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree.

"I have had an amazing run over the past nineteen years and now it's time to focus on being a team owner," says Andretti. "I have accomplished almost everything I wanted to as a driver. The only thing that I have not yet done, is win the Indy 500. I am determined to give it one last shot this year. I am hoping that the fans who have been supporting me and writing to me over the years will join me in this countdown to Indy and will help me make the last race of my career the most memorable ever."

With a racing record that includes 15 IndyCar Series seasons with at least one victory; 309 CART starts (for which he is the series all-time leader); 311 IndyCar starts; 6,623 career laps led including 398 laps led at the Indianapolis 500 in six races (which leaves him 12th on the all time laps led list and most of any driver who has yet to win the race); 13 Indianapolis 500 starts and the1991 CART Championship, Andretti remains one of the most dominant and important drivers in American racing history.

"I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career and I have so many reasons to thank fans for all that they have done to support me and IndyCar racing. We've got a lot of things planned for the next couple of months as I get ready for the Indy 500 and I'm looking forward to participating in activities that revolve around and celebrate race fans. They've been with me since Day One, and I am very grateful for their support. I'd really like to win the 500 for all of them as well."

Countdown to Indy merchandise can be purchased at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend as well as at Phoenix International Raceway from March 21 -- 23 and at the Andretti merchandise trailer throughout the month of May. Items are also available on www.andretti.com. Andretti's website will also begin running short features, statistics and narratives highlighting Andretti's favorite racing memories, in the near future.

- AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Kim Green