Last Friday, Window World's "The Stinger" Indianapolis 500 concept car was on display at the Pine Island VFW Post 4353. The "Fall into Winter Tour" travels around the United States with the "Stinger" car to support St. Jude's Children's Hospital and collect signatures of Indy 500 car drivers.
The Stinger No. 100 is a concept car developed by John Andretti. It is modeled after the first car to win the Indy 500 the 1911 Marmon Wasp. It has a single seat with two rear-view mirrors with all of the defining aspects of a modern car. The engine is fully chromed and is as aerodynamic as modern engineering can make it. The color is taken directly from the "Wasp" - bright yellow with black accents.
David Long, show car demonstrator, gently wheeled the car out of the truck. "Window World, the largest window company in the Unites States, started this program with John Andretti (Mario Andretti's nephew) to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's hospital," Long said. "In 2011, the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, Window World invited all living participants of past Indianapolis 500s to sign the car. There are more than 270 signatures dating back to 1949 on the car and for every signature Window World donates $189 to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. We need about 27 more to make the car complete."
David Long, show car demonstrator; Keith Keefer, Commander VFW Post 4353; and Roger Rager, Indy 500 race car driver and Pine island resident.
The Fall into Winter Tour began Nov. 6, in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was scheduled to close Dec. 8.
"However, it's taken a little longer to get all the signatures than expected and they've extended it a little bit," Long said.
"The way this works is, John Andretti arranges with the drivers to sign the car," Long said. "I drive all over the country to meet with the drivers so they can sign the car. I'm here today so Roger Rager can put his signature on the car."
Rager, a Pine Island resident, and VFW member, was responsible for bringing the car to Pine Island.
"John Andretti is really the guy behind this car," Rager said. "I raced against both John and Mario Andretti. Well, John called me and said he wanted me to fly to New Mexico to sign the car. I really didn't want to do that. I knew they were driving the car all over the country so I asked why not just arrange for me to sign the car in Florida. A great spot would be at the VFW in Pine Island right in front of the memorial. It would be great publicity for the island, the VFW and the memorial over there. So that's how the car ended up at the VFW."
Rager is something of a legend in the racing world. He began racing go-karts around the family farm in Nebraska at just 5 years old. At 15 he was racing late model stock cars and at 16 drag racers.
"I really didn't like drag racing," Rager said. "I didn't like going in a straight line I missed the curves. I started in Indy in 1976 and made my first Indy 500 qualifying attempt in 1977."
During Rager's career he raced numerous sprint cars and 23 Indy cars. He's had more that 200 Sprint Car victories in the U.S. and is currently in seven racing halls of fame. He raced against many of the greats including the Andrettis, A.J. Foyt, Tom Sneva, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.
The car will be auctioned in June and the money raised will go to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. There isn't any way to calculate the car's worth because it is a "one-of-a-kind. The base racing car cost about $2 million to build. The nearly 300 signatures are priceless.
The Window World website says, "The story of the Stinger is a story of hope for children battling life-threatening diseases.