The ride from the Indy Racing Experience was a Christmas gift from Pittenger's children. Pittenger, who is retired from Ball State University as assistant director of personnel services, began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1965.
"I like the excitement, the speed, the noise," she said. "I'm one of the few that like the noise."
After trading her black slacks and checkered-flag blouse for a red-and-white driver's suit and black racing shoes, Pittenger was helped into the second seat of the 650-horsepower race car.
Her family broke out into cheers as the car completed a warm-up lap. "She's been talking about this. She said,
'I don't want them slowing down because I'm 96,'" said Pittenger's daughter, Janet Cates.
After a second lap, Pittenger said, "I can do better!" and Luyendyk, a veteran of the 2006 Indy 500 and son of the two-time winner, took her rocketing around the track at 180 mph.
"I didn't know how fast we were going, but we were going," said Pittenger.
Copyright 2008 The Associated
Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.