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Basketball Legend Bird Presents '500' Winner's Ring To Franchitti

Two of the biggest sporting passions in Indiana – basketball and auto racing – blended for a special ceremony March 18 when NBA legend Larry Bird presented Dario Franchitti with his Herff Jones Champion of Champions ring as the winner of the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

Indiana native Bird made the presentation to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Franchitti at the IMS Pavilion at Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. Bird is the president of basketball operations for the Pacers.

The ceremony united two great champions in their respective sports.

Bird won three championships, three league Most Valuable Player awards and was a 12-time All-Star during his 13-season career with the Boston Celtics. He also led Indiana State to the NCAA championship game as a senior in 1979 and won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team in 1992.

Franchitti, a native of Scotland, earned his second Indianapolis 500 victory last year in a Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry, also winning in 2007 for Andretti Green Racing. He also has won three IZOD IndyCar Series championships since 2007, including last season.

“It’s a real honor to meet Larry,” Franchitti said. “I’m not a massive basketball fan, but it’s like guys who are not big racing fans, they know who Mario Andretti is. Same thing, I know who Larry Bird is.

“This is a great honor to receive this ring. Fingers crossed this year we can try to catch up with Larry with the three rings. Three of these beautiful rings would be lovely. It’s a big year for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the Indianapolis 500. It’s already the biggest race in the world, but being the Centennial celebration, it adds that extra spice to it.”

The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

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2011 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, “The Most Important Race in History,” on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Race Day ticket prices start at just $30. Fans can buy tickets online at www.imstix.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

Children 12 and under will be receive free general admission to any IMS event in 2011 when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.

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