The 2011 Indy 500 is the 95th running of the race, and it's 100th anniversary, so it makes some sense that another centennial — the birth of Ronald Reagan — would be honored by one of the teams entered in the race, one of America's most time-honored sports traditions. But it's how Reagan's centennial will be celebrated that's sort of funny.
Dan Wheldon, 2005 Indy 500 winner, will drive the Bryan Herta Autosport/Curb Agajanian #98 car with the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration seal on the nose to observe the 100th anniversary of Reagan’s birth.
Yeah, uh, Wheldon's British. And while it's an arguably bizarre move to keep Reagan's legacy alive by slapping his presidential seals on race cars — Reagan's seal was on Clint Bowyer's car at a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in March — it's seems almost farcical to be putting it on a car driven by a subject of Queen Elizabeth II.
Reagan's name still has currency in the American heartland, certainly, and it makes sense to keep his name alive by sticking it on things that go fast in another American tradition. But there's a bit of brand dilution going on, too.
For more on the race, stay with our 2011 Indy 500 StoryStream. Be sure to head over to Pop Off Valve for all things IndyCar, including the three excellent Indy 500 resources: The Indy 500 experience, Indy 500 traditions and the history of the Indy 500 and the Brickyard.