Stars Garth Brooks and Gladys Knight Shine at Indy 500 Soiree

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Last night, music-industry icons, Indianapolis 500 stars, and other big-name notables put their well-heeled feet forward at the Indy 500 Soiree to help raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital at IU Health. In attendance were country-music star Garth Brooks and Motown legend (and Dancing with the Stars contestant) Gladys Knight, as well as two-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti, 2008 winner Scott Dixon, and popular former Indianapolis Colt Dallas Clark. Lucas Oil owner Forrest Lucas and wife, Charlotte, graciously hosted the event at their 35-acre Hamilton County estate.

>> BONUS: See our photo gallery of the Soiree’s “white carpet” arrivals.

“This is what Charlotte and I have this house for, to give back to the community,” Lucas says of the lavish mansion once owned by Conseco founder Stephen Hilbert. “We would like this event to get some national recognition to help make the 500 what it once was.”

Nearly all of the 33 drivers in the starting field of the 2012 Indianapolis 500 made appearances, including fan favorites Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Three-time 500 champ Johnny Rutherford also showed up to help with the cause, and the 90-degree weather prompted a tip from the seasoned driver on how the racers can beat the heat during the record-breaking race temperature expected this Sunday. “It’s all mind over matter” says Rutherford. “You have to stay focused.”

While sipping cocktails and sampling delicious eats guests participated in a live auction that helped the night bring in around half a million dollars, all slated to go toward building play areas at Riley at IU Health. Brooks single-handedly brought in $250,000 with two hotel-inclusive packages to see his Las Vegas show. Other items included a trip to Toronto with IndyCar, a trip to see the Colts take on the New York Jets this coming season, and a Bill Patterson original Indy 500 painting. The event brought the Indianapolis community closer together and proved that Indianapolis is one of the most charitable cities in the country, Forrest Lucas told IM.

Knight told IM she is a strong supporter of tying charity to blockbuster events like the 500. “We should always be considerate of our sisters and brothers: little, big, young, and old,” she says.

Photos by Meredith Cohen

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