David Letterman drives into retirement with Indy 500 tribute

David Letterman, who ended his 33-year career as a late-night television host Wednesday, waves to fans as he walks through the pit area before the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — David Letterman has a new No. 1 on his personal Top Ten list of reasons he loves the Indianapolis 500.

The freshly retired Letterman was all grins early Sunday as his IndyCar team paid tribute to the former “Late Show” host by putting a gap-toothed, smiling caricature of his face and #thanksdave on driver Oriol Servia’s yellow car for the big race.

“With everything that’s happened, it’s the highlight of my career,” Letterman said. “It’s crazy it’s the Indianapolis 500. Regrettable my face, but also my name on that car. It’s just delightful.”

Letterman was dressed in a red shirt with a race sponsor “Steak ‘n Shake” logo. He promised Servia he would buy the burgers with an Indy win, but he can save his cash for retirement: Servia was knocked out of the running with an accident just past the halfway point of the race.

Letterman was born and raised in Indianapolis, spending his younger years in the Broad Ripple section of town. He went to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and early in his career served as a pit reporter for ABC; search on YouTube for his interview of Mario Andretti after the former champion crashed out of the 1971 race.

Letterman got into team ownership in the 1990s with former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, and businessman Mike Lanigan came aboard to form what is now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Letterman struck a friendship with Rahal after the retired driver appeared on his show after winning the 1986 Indy 500.

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