History met history June 18 as Liverpool legend Ian Rush visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the legendary soccer club’s tour of the United States for preseason matches, savoring an experience like no other.
Rush, a Liverpool legend, played 660 games, scored a club-record 346 goals and was a part of winning 18 various trophies in his career with Liverpool, which spanned from 1980-87 and 1988-96. Rush was accompanied on his visit by another great: Tony Kanaan, the 2004 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner.
Kanaan took Rush for speedy laps around the famed 2.5-mile oval in a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. When the duo exited the car on pit road, the expression on the legendary soccer player’s face was telling: It was a rush.
“It’s a bit nerve-racking going around the (turns), and he was actually showing me where there’s been a few crashes,” Rush said. “I don’t think that helped. But it was a great experience and something I’ll never forget.”
Rush, 57, got the full IMS experience, from touring the IMS Museum and Pagoda to walking on the frontstretch, seeing Liverpool’s motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone” lit up on the Scoring Pylon and getting a chance to kiss the Yard of Bricks. Gifts also were exchanged. Rush gave Kanaan a Liverpool jersey, and Rush was gifted a customized Liverpool racing helmet.
Kanaan is no stranger to soccer. Growing up in Brazil, he said he followed the sport closely. While he lived in England, Liverpool was Kanaan’s favorite team, and he remembers watching Rush play. Now, his son Leo is an avid soccer fan and goes to soccer school three times a week.
“It was cool to show him around and meet a legend,” Kanaan said. “The guy, in his generation, he was the man. To take him around and see him uncomfortable in the car was cool.”
Rush has spent his life in historic sporting facilities such as IMS. For years, Rush called now 135-year-old Anfield home. Anfield is one of the oldest active soccer stadiums in the world with a capacity of more than 54,000 people.
When Rush took in the view of the 110-year-old racetrack from the top of the Pagoda, he was surprised by its size and age.
“We all know about the Indy 500, and to actually come to the track and see how massive it is and everything (is amazing),” Rush said. “When people tell me there’s 300,000 people to watch it, it’s surreal, really. But when you get here and you see how big it is … it’s exciting here.”
Kanaan said he enjoyed not only meeting Rush but getting the chance to show a fellow sports legend what racing is all about and why the Indianapolis 500 is such a historic event. He said raising awareness for motorsports and hopefully creating a new fan is a special opportunity.
After just a few laps, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” might have a new fan. Rush said the experience was something he will never forget, and he vowed to return to the Racing Capital of the World.
“We get asked to do things a lot, but this was a must for me to come here,” Rush said. “I like cars and everything, but to go around this track with a top-notch driver is something special. I will definitely come back when the race is on. It was a great experience.”