A dedicated race fan who's been attending the Indy 500 for decades received the ride of a lifetime at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His friends surprised him with a ride in a two-seater with Mario Andretti behind the wheel.
When trackside at IMS, 85-year-old Norman Oberto is as giddy as a kid.
"It's hard for a guy that's 85 years old to have heroes that's younger than you, you know," Oberto joked.
He knows the legends and they know him by name.
Oberto has seen it all, from the IndyCars of today to the machines that raced here decades ago.
He's attended nearly every Indy 500 since 1947.
"The price of a ticket for the infield was $3.00 then - and $1.45 of that was taxes," Oberto said.
"He's got a lot of really good stories. He's almost like a historian here at the Indy 500," said Oberto's friend, Mike Fink.
Like the time in the 1950's, when Oberto says he and another fan helped rescued a driver who spun out during the race.
"Coming out of turn three, the right rear wheel collapsed and he spun out," Oberto explained. "Myself and another guy, he's just sitting in the car and that things smoking. We lifted up the fence and about that time, he got out and we helped him up the hill. He looked at the two of us and he said, 'thanks boys. I'll never forget that.' And I said...'nor will I!'"
"But in all those years at IMS, Oberto never experienced what it's like on the track itself.
He suited up for a ride in an IndyCar, as a surprise from his friends.
"Hey you know who's gonna drive me? Mario! Just being able at this age to come here and see a race and participate with other fans is kinda good too at 85. But to be able to go around the track with a guy like Andretti? Unbelievable," Oberto said as he stood trackside.
Once he donned the gloves and the helmet, he took his seat behind Mario Andretti and hit that famous oval at speeds that would make anyone feel young again.
And after a few laps, the Indy Racing Experience did its job - making a dream come true.
"Boy that was great," Oberto exclaimed as he got out of the race car. "On that second lap, he let it hang out pretty good! I think he was showing me a few things! So many of the guys I've known over the years, they'd give anything for this. And I'll tell ya' what - this is something! This is really something."
For this ultimate race fan, it was the ride of a lifetime.
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