While the rain kept National Guard racing stars Dan Wheldon and Dale Earnhardt Jr from sharing a ride together in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, the NASCAR ace still didn't hesitate at the chance to jump in the cockpit of the #4 Dallara to get a feel for it's like to sit behind the wheel of a 220mph+ racecar.
“I would love to drive one,” Earnhardt Jr admitted after 2005 Indy 500 ad IRL champ Wheldon had showed him around the car, “I'm intrigued how the IndyCar drives, what driving one feels like. In the first seconds I had out there, I picked Dan's brain as hard as I could. That's all me and Dan would probably do if we had our choice today, sit around and talk about it. But, you know, it definitely interests me.”
Wheldon, who was flanked by Panther team owner John Barnes and Indiana National Guard adjutant general Martin Umbarger, quickly pointed to his bosses and said “I'm sure these guys could arrange that for you, Dale.”
Wheldon, who had to leave immediately after the appearance to catch a flight to Toronto for this weekend's Honda Indy event, was equally discouraged by the rain shower but happy to spend time with his National Guard 'team-mate'.
“Anytime I'm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you're going to see a smile on my face,” the Briton said, “especially when I'm here with another great driver like Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"He and I are both very competitive and both drive for great teams. We both have team owners who take a lot of pride in their relationship with the National Guard, and John Barnes, in particular, is an amazing advocate for them. It's great to be here today with General Umbarger and all these soldiers to help highlight everything they do for this country.”
Earnhardt Jr was also slated to turn laps in the 1941 Noc-Out Hose Clamp Special that Mauri Rose and Floyd Davis drove to victory in the Indianapolis 500.
“That was going to be a lot of fun,” he admitted, “Hopefully the offer is still open.”