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Ross Tires will celebrate with Mario Andretti

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Ross Tire & Service is bringing legendary racer Mario Andretti to Louisiana.

Andretti will appear at both the grand opening of the Ross Tire store in New Iberia, La., and the fifth anniversary of the store in Lafayette on Sept. 17.

"I think he'll be good for business," laughs David Ross, president.

Ross plans a special promotion surrounding the new Firestone Indy 500 tire, introduced by Bridgestone/Firestone earlier this year.

A parade of vehicles, including a drivable Indycar, a special stretch limousine and a couple of antique cars, will help Andretti make a grand entrance into both locations, according to Ross. The vehicles will have a police escort.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting ceremony in New Iberia and celebration in Lafayette, Andretti will be visiting school children in each community. Ross Tire will give away T-shirts to the students and faculty members as part of the visits.

Ross arranged Andretti's visit through his relationship with Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC.

"Mario is widely known for his accomplishments on the track, including being the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in Indycars, Daytona in stock cars and the World Drivers' Championship in Formula One cars," Ross says. "But his accomplishments off the track are equally inspiring.

"After living under Nazi terror in war-torn Italy, he immigrated to the United States with little more than his clothing. He devoted his talent and energy to becoming a racecar driver, and eventually dominated every series in which he competed.

"I want my friends and school children in Lafayette and New Iberia to meet him, and to be exposed to his tremendous personality. We welcome Mario Andretti... with open arms."

"In the racing business, you get to travel to many places," Andretti says. "But in all my ventures, I never made it to this part of the country, and I'm excited about seeing these communities and meeting new people.

"I'm thankful to David and his team at Ross Tire for making it happen. He's arranged for me to say hello to schoolchildren at Catholic High in New Iberia and Comeaux High in Lafayette, and that's important to me.

"When I visit schools, I'm probably more impressed with the children and their teachers than they are with me. I leave every school inspired to do more, so I hope there is something reciprocal in my visits."

Andretti's appearances at the Ross Tire locations on Sept. 17 are open to the public. He will be at the Ross Tire store in New Iberia from 9:55 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., and the Ross Tire store in Lafayette that same day from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The first 100 persons at each location will receive a Mario Andretti honorary pit crew member T-shirt.

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