REENFIELD — Time flies when you’re having fun, and no more so than every year around this time for John Andretti.
One of the co-founders, along with radio persona Dave “The King” Wilson, of The Kroger Race for Riley presented by Cheerios, Andretti and his band of personalities continue to drive their efforts to support those in need.
And what better way than on the track?
Kicking off the annual go-karting fundraiser 20 years ago on a whim, the event conducted at Greenfield-native Mark Dismore’s New Castle Motorsports Park since 2004 has gained traction at every turn.
Story continues below gallery
In the beginning, $3,700 was raised with all proceeds going to the Riley Children’s Foundation. Since 1996, the figures have accelerated, reaching hundreds of thousands each year for Riley Hospital for Children and pushing the grand total to well above $3 million. The fundraiser has witnessed appearances from several big names, including Sarah Fisher, Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd and others.
“Our little humble beginnings has grown bigger and bigger, and we’re not done yet,” said Andretti, the nephew of Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti.
On July 19, several special races will go green at Dismore’s 1-mile, state-of-the-art course, with Andretti strapping on the helmet, once again.
Andretti, 53, ran 393 races in his 17-year professional career, including stops in USAC midgets, NHRA Top Fuel Dragsters, NASCAR, CART and the IndyCar Series. His best finish in the Indianapolis 500 was fifth in 1991 while driving for Hall/VDS Racing. Yet, the godson of racing legend A.J. Foyt is most notably known for being the first driver to ever accomplish the Memorial Day Double.
Andretti raced in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 1994, a feat since replicated by Robby Gordon, Stewart and Kurt Busch.
However, his proudest achievement stems from his go-karting roots and the Race for Riley, which has blossomed due to the diligence of the former racer, Wilson, sports talk show host Joe Staysniak, and Rick Posson.
Beyond the races, a 2016 Window World Progressive Dinner presented by Biltwell Event Center will take place in Indianapolis on July 20 with a silent and live auction.
Kroger Race for Riley presented by Cheerios
Where: New Castle Motorsports Park (5816 S. County Road 125 West, New Castle, IN 47362)
When: July 19 (noon to 6 p.m.)
What: Races featuring sponsors, Kroger, media, and the Race for Riley
Window World Progressive Dinner, presented by the Biltwell Center
Where: The Biltwell Event Center – 950 S White River Pkwy W Dr
When: July 20 (6 to 9 p.m.)
What: Entertainment and food provided by St. Elmo’s/Harry & Izzy’s, Oceanaire, Capital Grille, Shula’s Steakhouse, Greek Islands, Hal’s Fabulous Las Vegas, Prime 47, Dawson’s on Main, Judge’s BBQ, Oaken Barrel, Vida, Buca di Beppo and more.
* All proceeds go directly to Riley Hospital for Children