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New IMS Museum Exhibit Honors Large ‘500’ Legacy of Colorful Legend Andy Granatelli

Race fans looking to take one of the brightest journeys through motorsports history can look no further than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Now open in the North Hall and Gallery is a new exhibit honoring one of the most outgoing and impactful personalities in the history of the Indianapolis 500: Andy Granatelli.

“Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by O’Donovan & McCardel Wealth Management of Raymond James” will give fans an inside look into Granatelli’s persona – the man who was always family first, yet dreamed big and used his intellect, hard work, persistence, charm and marketing genius to create a lasting legacy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I love it, and I think that they did a beautiful job,” Granatelli’s son Vince said of the exhibit. “I am very happy with it. I think the people that worked on it did a great job. It brings back years’ worth of memories. I mean, we’re talking about the 1991 car that was my car (under Vince Granatelli Racing) to the car my dad attempted to qualify with in 1948. You got the whole gamut here.”

Immediately upon entering the exhibit, the bright “STP dayglo red” race cars that Granatelli, who was named president of STP Corporation in 1963, used to promote his automotive lubricant brand light up the room and tell the story of Granatelli.

From the 1965 STP-Tombstone Life Novi driven by Jim Hurtubise to Mario Andretti’s winning 1969 Brawner-Hawk III, Gordon Johncock’s winning 1973 STP Double Oil Filter Eagle, Arie Luyendyk’s RCA/UNO Vince Granatelli Racing Lola and more, the North Hall of the IMS Museum is sure to educate race fans about Granatelli’s shining personality, bright race cars and STP stickers that were everywhere at IMS for decades.

This exhibit also tells some of the greatest Granatelli stories, such as when he brought legendary late night talk show host Johnny Carson to the Racing Capital of the World in 1967 to drive the STP Paxton Turbine for a segment on his show. Carson was one of many A-list celebrities with whom Granatelli rubbed shoulders.

The exhibit also details Granatelli’s short-lived Indy 500 racing career when he attempted to qualify for the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 1948. Granatelli was well on his way to making the race after completing three of his four qualifying laps with an average speed of 123 mph. But a tire failed on the fourth lap, and he hit the wall in Turn 2, failing to make the race. That 72-year-old race car, which came before the days of “STP dayglo red,” is the first machine fans will see as they enter the exhibit.

But this exhibit isn’t just about Granatelli. The 2002 inductee into the IMS Hall of Fame was a devoted family man and made his family part of his racing passion. Granatelli and his brothers, the older Joe and the younger Vince, grew up in a tough Chicago neighborhood and built a family business into a corporate empire. Grancor (short for Granatelli Corporation) equipment became legendary in the hot rod world, leading the brothers to seek further notoriety by entering a Grancor-sponsored car in the 1946 Indy 500. This was their first foray into the “500,” and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

“This has been a fantastic ride,” said Granatelli’s younger brother, Vince, who Andy appointed chief mechanic on the 1967 turbine. “This is all really great here.

“What a fantastic, loving brother he was. Andy was a marketer extraordinaire. Nothing was ever regular with him. Everything had to be special. That’s how he was his whole life. He was hard to keep up with. If you followed Andy, you had to be on your toes the whole time.”

Granatelli’s son Vince, who owned Vince Granatelli Racing from 1987-91 and finished third with Luyendyk in the 1991 Indy 500, said his father, who died in 2013 at age 90, would be proud of the exhibit honoring his legacy. But in classic Granatelli fashion, he would want more. In fact, years ago, he tried for more.

“If he were here, he’d say ’Where’s the rest of my cars?’” Vince said with a laugh. “He had an idea one time that he talked to the board about. He suggested that they take all of his stuff and put it on the showroom floor and put all the stuff on the showroom floor on the basement. He always wanted more, more, more.”

“Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by O’Donovan & McCardel Wealth Management of Raymond James” will occupy the North Hall and Gallery through June 20, 2021. The IMS Museum will be closed on all Indy 500 track activity days: Aug. 12-16 and Aug. 21-23. The Museum will maintain normal tour and operating hours Aug. 17-20, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET), and the "Kiss the Bricks" track tours will be available from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Museum's popular and in-depth Golf Cart Tours will not be available beginning Aug. 10 and will resume Aug.26.

To learn more about the Museum, its exhibits, tour options and more, visit www.indyracingmuseum.org.

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