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Andretti Races; Children's Hospital Wins

17 December 1997


   INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - John Andretti laughed as he gained his "revenge on
an obvious Jeff Gordon fan," but Riley's Childrens' Hospital was the big
winner Monday.

   By lapping radio producer Matt Hibbeln 13 times at a go-kart track in
Indianapolis, Andretti was able to raise nearly $4,000 for the well-known
central Indiana children's hospital. The hospital is best known for
admitting children regardless of their family's economic status.

   The race at Stefan Johannson's Karting Center - owned by the former Indy
car star - brought in a crowd of nearly 400 people on a Monday afternoon.
Andretti and Chris Gardocki, punter for the Indianapolis Colts and fresh
from his team's 41-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins the day before, signed
autographs throughout the three-hour event.

   Hibbeln, a producer at WIBC-AM in Indianapolis, had been ribbing
Andretti for nearly a year during Andretti's regular weekly call-in
feature. The good-natured joking escalated to a go-kart challenge, and
Andretti responded by lapping Hibbeln 13 times on a track that takes an
average driver 28-30 seconds to complete. Andretti turned laps around 20
seconds consistently. Local businesses had pledged donations for every time
Andretti lapped Hibbeln.

   "Matt's nickname around the station now is 'Sand Wedge,'" joked
Andretti, "because he's as far from a driver as you can get."

   Hibbeln still needled Andretti until just before race time, after which
Andretti smiled and waved at him every time he passed. The crowd roared on
every pass, pulling for Andretti.

   "It's not the type of thing you want to make a mistake doing," Andretti
said. "Matt is just out there, kind of a moving chicane. Driving
Indianapolis or Charlotte is a lot easier. At least there you know what to
expect from the other drivers. If this track resembled anything, it
resembled Bristol with one car out there running on six cylinders.

   "Seriously, the important thing was the money we raised and the
attention we brought to Riley Childrens' Hospital. That's all I really
cared about, all any of us really cared about. I think everybody had a
really good time but we wanted to get some money to them. I think we did
pretty well for something that was actually put together in about a week.

   "We're planning on making this an annual event. At least, it will be for
me. Maybe we can find some radio producers who can drive next time,"
Andretti laughed.

   Andretti will drive the STP Pontiac of legendary Richard Petty in 1998,
leaving the RCA Ford of Cale Yarborough. He is one of four drivers in
motorsports history with major race victories in NASCAR Winston Cup (1997
Pepsi 400 at Daytona Beach, Fla.); CART (1991 Gold Coast Gran Prix in
Australia); and IMSA (1989 24 Hours of Daytona being his highlight

 Mike Snow - The Auto Channel