Imagine this: 135,000 fans at Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and millions around the world watching the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda charging into Turn 1 at 230mph while wrapped in a Eddie Van Halen tribute livery. Through the early stages of April, there was no reason to imagine this scenario because it almost happened.
In what would have been one of the coolest collisions between motor racing and rock music, RACER has learned a sponsorship deal was in place for Wolfgang Van Halen, son of the guitar god who died in October, to promote his new album ‘Mammoth WVH’ ahead of its June 11 release in association with Andretti Autosport and the No. 25 Honda at the May 30 Indy 500.
As part of the pre-race ceremonies, Wolfgang Van Halen was meant to perform the song ‘Distance,’ a heavy track that deals with the loss of his father. And with the tribute car meant to be presented in the legendary stripes from Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Frankenstrat’ guitar, made famous in the late 1970s as Van Halen shot to the top of the rock music scene, the band’s legion of fans would have erupted.
For reasons that are unknown, the grand Indy 500 promotional plan fell through, which in turn, opened the door for Stefan Wilson and sponsor LOHLA SPORT to claim the No. 25 Honda and fill one of the last vacancies in the field of 33 racers.
In what would have been an interesting link between two of the tallest brothers in motor racing and two of biggest rock bands of the 20th century, the Van Halen tribute deal was set to follow the late Justin Wilson’s 2015 Andretti Autosport Indy 500 entry — the same No. 25 Honda, featuring sponsorship from the Rolling Stones to promote their July 4 concert at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.