Indianapolis 500 – How Tony Kanaan stays fit at 46

2013 Indy 500 champ eyes extended career

Tony Kanaan

At 46 and with 27 years in various open-wheel series under his belt, IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan has no plans to retire.

And he knows keeping himself in shape is key. Toward that end, the Brazil native trains his body daily in the gym, uses the therapy RefleXion to keep his reflexes sharp and even runs Ironman Triathlons to condition his mind and body for the long-haul of a race. For him, it’s all about staying in the game he loves as long as he can.

“When you do an Ironman, for me it’s like a 10-12 hour race,” he explains. “And when you’re having a long day in the car, the longest race is the Indy 500, it’s three hours, it becomes not that long. So mentally I come in prepared … . But physically, obviously it helps me a lot with the aerobic side. Obviously with that, I go to the gym every day and try to do some core exercises, some neck exercises. But the swim obviously helps to strengthen my shoulders, which we use a lot in the race car. And then the long races, the long triathlons, I basically train my mind.”

And Kanaan’s longest day in a race car comes Sunday, May 30, when he’ll be part of the 33-car field for the 105th Indianapolis 500, which airs on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kanaan, the winner of the 2013 Indy 500, will be driving in his third race of an abbreviated four-race slate in 2021, piloting the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, splitting duty with former NASCAR Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, who drives road and street courses while he takes the ovals.

He says the opportunity to team with one of racing’s all-time greats this season was too good to pass up.

“It’s something that we’re going to be talking about it for the rest of our lives,” Kanaan says. “I mean, I got to share a car with the seven-time (champion) and we did something that two big names like that – I could be wrong but that never happened before.”

Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan

Full name: Antoine Rizkallah Kanaan Filho

Date of birth: Dec. 31, 1974

Birthplace: Salvador, Brazil

Other career highlights: 1994 Formula Europa Boxer series champion; 1997 Indy Lights series champion; 1998 CART Rookie of the Year; 1999 U.S. 500 winner (CART’s version of the Indy 500); 2004 IndyCar series champion; 2013 IndyCar Most Popular Driver award winner; overall winner of the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona

TV appearances: “Danica: Five Years Running” (2009)

Movie appearances: “Driven” (2001)

Partners in crime: In the early 2000s, was teammates with Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and the late Dan Wheldon in Andretti Green Racing, a team known for winning races and pulling elaborate pranks on one another

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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