Two charitable organisations have taken advantage of the Indianapolis 500 to raise awareness of their causes by partnering two of the more intriguing entries in the race.

That the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation should choose to make use of Alex Lloyd's impressive qualifying performance is no surprise given that the Briton is being run by Sam Schmidt Motorsports, but crew members will do their best to make sure that the cause is recognised by tying in with the lurid colours being sported by the #99.

All team members have already donned pink overalls this month to coincide with the team's HER Energy drink sponsorship, but will now dye their hair pink for the 500 to raise money for team owner Sam Schmidt's charity. For every $10,000 pledged to the charity, one team member will dye his hair.

"We've gotten a lot of attention with our programme this month, and we felt we should centre some of that positive attention towards a good cause," Schmidt said, "We have pink suits and a pink car, so we may as well go all the way and dye our hair pink."

Meanwhile, the Luczo Dragon team has attracted the might of NBA star Shaquille O'Neal to raise money and awareness for charity through the remainder of the 2009 IndyCar Series.

By partnering with champion athletes each year, co-owners Steve Luczo and Jay Penske have established a unique charity drive that has delivered more than $1m to charitable organisations worldwide in two years. With the US Air Force and US Marine Corps as their primary partners on the car in 2009, much of the team's charitable focus will turn to organisations that support fallen heroes and their families. Basketball Hall of Famer O'Neal, meanwhile, has made it his mission to work with children and families in need.

"We are proud to have Shaquille join our team of champions," Luczo said, "Shaq has demonstrated that leadership, competitiveness, winning and compassion can all be achieved at the same time. As one of the most recognised champions in sports, and as a positive role model through his many community and social efforts, Shaq is the ideal individual to help Luczo Dragon Racing further its success. On top of that, his father is a military veteran, which is particularly relevant to our expanded mission of supporting wounded and fallen soldiers and their families."

The four-time NBA champion and 15-time All Star is keen to get his message across following the tie-up.

"I believe in giving, and I am thrilled to be joining forces with the Luczo Dragon Racing team," O'Neal said, "My parents taught me at a young age that my goals, are and should be, more than just about the things I want to personally accomplish. Therefore, giving to others has given me a deeper sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. Everyone has a passion - it could be any number of things: animals, education, AIDS research, cancer...

"My passion is our most precious resource, children. That is why I support charity organisations that focus on children including Kids Athletic Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of America on a regular basis. There is no excuse for not giving. If you don't have money, you still can support by volunteering your time. Take it from me, we all win when we take the focus off of ourselves and support others."


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