Mansfield city officials don’t usually condone driving more than 200 miles an hour, but on Thursday they’ll give the key to the city to a driver who has become famous for it.Mayor David Cook will present the key to the city to Tony Kanaan, 38, who won the Indianapolis 500 on May 26. The public is invited to welcome the Brazilian race car driver, who will be in town to visit his sponsor Mouser Electronics before racing in the Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.“We wanted to have a chance for our employees and the community to get to meet the guy who won the big event,” said Glenn Smith, president and CEO of Mouser Electronics. “We’re involved in Indy as a marketing thing to get our brand out there. Having an opportunity to get the city and our employees involved is the fun part of branding.”City officials are just as thrilled.“It’s incredibly exciting on two levels,” said Belinda Willis, city spokesperson. “We get to celebrate one of our favorite corporate citizens. Also, racing is a really big sport and has a lot of fans from all over the world. To know that some of that attention from those fans is going to be directed at Mansfield is pretty exciting.”Kanaan’s work ethic is an inspiring story, Smith said.“He’s been trying for 12 years to win (Indy),” he said. “He’s one of the hardest working athletes. Driving for hours on end clearly requires conditioning and mental focus. I hope our employees will feel that, keep trying, don’t give up.”While the Indianapolis 500 victory eluded Kanaan until this year, he does have a history of winning, with 15 Indy Racing League wins and the 2004 IndyCar Series championship.Kanaan will arrive in Mansfield in style, landing on the back of Mouser’s property in a helicopter at 5 p.m. and then being transported down Mouser Way in a classic convertible, Smith said. Mouser Way will be closed for the mini parade and the public is invited to line the street to welcome him. Kanaan will be presented with the key to the city and speak at the company’s entrance at 1000 N. Main St.In order to get a good spot, people are invited to start lining up before 5 p.m. along Mouser Way or in the company’s parking lot, Smith said. A private event for Mouser employees and their families will follow the public audience. Parking will be available at the vacant church just north of Mouser on North Main Street, Willis said.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM