Indianapolis - Former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman and his sons have become co-owners of the Indy Racing League's Panther Racing team.
It's Foreman's first sports venture since he retired from boxing in 1997.
"This is a very special day for Panther Racing," team co-owner John Barnes said. "To add a true professional and sports legend like George Foreman to our ownership group is a tremendous boost to our team.
"George brings with him experience from decades in professional sports and the business savvy to help our team's sponsorship efforts. His passion for cultivating successful business opportunities is as strong as his career in the boxing ring. The Panther Racing franchise just got a lot stronger."
George Foreman Jr. and brother George III serve as vice presidents of George Foreman Enterprises, the marketing company founded by their father. They also founded their own investment company, JR3, which invests in industries including real estate, apparel, exercise equipment, sporting goods, financial services, entertainment and music.
"I've been blessed throughout my life to partner with winning organizations," the eldest Foreman said. "Now that I am part of Panther Racing, I am looking forward to being part of a winning team."
Panther Racing, a two-time IndyCar Series champion, will field cars in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 for Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and John Andretti.
BIG MONEY: IndyCar's new Luczo Dragon Racing team, which will start its first race Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel, has pledged to donate more than half its Indy 500 winnings to charities selected by a group of celebrities.
Team co-owners Steve Luczo, chairman of the board for Seagate Technology, and Jay Penske, youngest son of Roger Penske, have guaranteed at least $250,000 for the charities, no matter how the car finishes.
Briscoe, who finished 10th in the 2005 Indy 500, will start seventh in the 33-car field.
The benefiting charities will be All Stars Helping Kids, Friends of Washington Prep, Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative, Team Play L.A. Stars, Jackson Community College Foundation Wilbur Dungy Endowment, Fisher House of Colorado, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, Northern California Special Olympics, Chase the Stars Foundation and the Always Dream Foundation.
Among the personalities from the world of sports and music taking part in the program are Baron Davis, Tony Dungy, John Elway, Wayne Gretzky, Marcus Allen, Jackson Browne, Brandi Chastain, Ronnie Lott, Jonny Moseley, Chris Mullin, Kerri Walsh and Kristi Yamaguchi.
"We have focused our efforts on supporting people and spearheading projects that are tied to socially relevant issues," Luczo said. "We thought partnering with these great champions on one of the most prestigious stages in all of sports, the Indianapolis 500, was a wonderful opportunity to generate much needed money and awareness for several outstanding charitable organizations and their causes."
(Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)