John Andretti's Race for Riley benefits Riley Hospital

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SPICELAND — We live in a day and age where everything “goes viral” — with social media turning an odd video into an overnight sensation.

But long before Mark Zuckerberg became a multimillionaire, racecar driver John Andretti was quietly putting together a charity event that would become as much of a late-summer staple in Indiana as the Brickyard 400 itself — the Race for Riley.

The premise was simple — allow people to race go-karts in heats for the opportunity to race against Andretti himself, with the proceeds going to Riley Hospital for Children.

With radio host Dave Wilson using WIBC’s airwaves during the race’s infancy to promote the event, it has morphed into a major event on the calendar each year, a nearly weeklong event that brings funding to the Indianapolis hospital.

“Every year for the last several years, we’ve set a record, but it’s always been by a little bit,” Andretti said. “This year, we’re going to blow it out of the water. For sure, we’re going to go over the $2 million mark in total donations since we started, and we’re going to break over $300,000 this year. That’s a big, big step in the right direction.”

For the Brownsburg native — John is the son of Mario Andretti’s twin brother Aldo, and now lives in North Carolina — it’s an opportunity to give back to a cause and also to raise awareness for the hospital.

The racing community often chips in to help. Several IndyCar and NASCAR luminaries — past and present — have made appearances, and donate items. On Wednesday, Simona di Silvestro auctioned off her race helmet from Sunday’s IndyCar race in Edmonton for Riley’s burn center.

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