Kanaan still adjusting to living in Indy in winter

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Tony Kanaan has enjoyed almost every aspect of the adjustment of moving his family from Miami to live in Indianapolis.

Except one. Snow.

The 43-year-old Brazilian admittedly doesn’t have much experience with it. And he doesn’t have any intention of learning how to shovel snow.

“That’s not happening,” he said. “I’ll pay somebody else to do it. First of all, I don’t think I can. Second, I think I’d hurt myself.

“Once when we finished building the house, it was still winter last year. We came here in December and it was snowing. We have this motorized gate at home. It had a pile of snow. And I obviously didn’t know I had to shovel before I opened the gate. I opened the gate and blew the motor because it was stuck in the snow.”

With the recent spate of snow and polar vortex snow that Indianapolis has experienced, Kanaan and his wife, Lauren, look forward to a warmer month, when they will be honorary chairs for the sixth annual Rev presented by Fifth Third Bank on Saturday, May 4, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The party, with 3,000 attendees each year, serves as the traditional kickoff to month of May activities at the track that includes the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, and has generated more than $2.5 million to support IU Health trauma and critical care programs. Proceeds from this next event will benefit 911 Access Trauma, which will expand and create a statewide comprehensive trauma plan.

When an enthusiastic IMS President Doug Boles introduced the Kanaans as honorary chairs for the 2019 edition of Rev in December, he referred to the affable and energetic Tony as “one of the most popular race car drivers in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

The fan favorite celebrated a career moment with his victory in the 2013 Indianapolis 500. The 2004 NTT IndyCar Series champion has considered Indianapolis a second home for years. Lauren is a native Hoosier from Cambridge City. That the couple and their four children now live in Indianapolis has them even more excited about the upcoming season and specifically serving together for the Rev gala.

“Indianapolis has been very good to us,” Lauren said. “Now we get to experience it all the time. It’s not to say that Miami isn’t a fabulous place for all of its completely different set of virtues, but Hoosier hospitality, that is a real thing. He is definitely experiencing that now that he’s here all the time. He’s at a grocery store, he’s at Starbucks, he’s at the gas station, everyday things where he gets to see how terrific Hoosier hospitality is.”

Kanaan spent enough time previously in Indianapolis to consider former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning one of his philanthropic role models for giving back to the community.

“This city has obviously been great to me, and if we as a couple can give back, that’s great,” he said. “I’m really honored to be part of Rev. It has everything to do with the month of May and it’s a great party.”

When Kanaan signed to drive for AJ Foyt Racing in 2018, it made even more sense to move to Indianapolis to be more involved at the team shop in Speedway.

“We moved in May,” he said. “Not a great month to move, there’s only a little race at the end of the month.

“I can’t go wrong here. This place has given me so much joy and people are so nice to me. It was just natural.”

The 17-time Indy car race winner, who finished 16th in the points last season, has made 360 career starts, including a series-record 300 consecutive races entering the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season that begins March 10 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“We want to build a strong team,” he said. “Me being away and only coming here once or twice every two weeks, that’s not going to cut it. I’m in the shop pretty much every day helping and being closer to the guys.”

Now, if Kanaan can just accept the snow.

“I’ll never get used to this stuff,” Kanaan said with a smile.

“Yes, you do,” Boles said. “Snow is great. I’m going to get some snowmobiles at the speedway. One day this winter, you’re going to get a call from me and I’m going to say, ‘Hey, meet me at the speedway because we’re going to race some snowmobiles around and have some fun on the road course.’”

Kanaan, AJ Foyt Racing teammate Matheus “Matt” Leist and the rest of the NTT IndyCar Series field heads to Circuit of the Americas for the INDYCAR Spring Training open test on Feb. 12-13. The first day of the testing will stream live on IndyCar.com, beginning at 11 a.m. ET and continuing whenever Indy cars are on track through 6:30 p.m.

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