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Lindsay Czarniak to host Indy 500

Racing legend Mario Andretti is serious when he

Racing legend Mario Andretti is serious when he says he wants to team up with son, Michael, and grandson, Marco, for an endurance race like the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona or 24 Hours of Le Mans. Credit: Getty Images, 2011

My visit to Indianapolis for Game 6 of Knicks-Pacers last weekend was not a total loss, thanks to some nice IndyCar folks showing me around the speedway on qualifying day.

Pretty cool for someone who saw his first 500 live via closed circuit in an Elizabeth, N.J., theater when Al Unser Sr. won in 1971. Why would my mother leave a 10-year-old alone in an Elizabeth, N.J., theater for five hours?

Different era, young readers.

The speedway is bigger, and the speed more awe-inspiring, than TV can capture. Also, I ran into assorted luminaries in the pits, including (Pacers fan) Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears, Chip Ganassi and . . . Lindsay Czarniak?

Turns out she will become the first woman to host a 500 telecast when she does so for ABC after having previously covered stock car racing for Speed, NBC and TNT.

“This will be her first, and she’s wide-eyed,’’ lap-by-lap announcer Marty Reid said in a news release. “Now she’s got the same kind of fever that we all have.’’

Czarniak confirmed that in a phone conversation Friday morning.

"It's been wonderful; it's been amazing," she said. "I love racing in general because of the feeling I get when I’m at a race track. It makes me feel at home and alive in some weird way."

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