Letterman ended his 33-year career as a late-night television host Wednesday. Letterman's IndyCar team paid tribute to the former "Late Show" host by putting a caricature of his face and #thanksdave on driver Oriol Servia's yellow car for Sunday's race.
It was easy to find the Rahal Letterman Racing spot in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway paddock: There was a red "Late Show with David Letterman" sign and the same grinning caricature that was featured on Servia's car.
Team members wore gray T-shirts with their own "Top Ten" list of reasons they love Letterman. Among them: Cries on the parade lap.
"With everything that's happened, it's the highlight of my career," Letterman said. "It's crazy it's the Indianapolis 500."
Letterman also joked that he needed "some kind of intravenous medication" to recover from the grind of the final weeks of his show.
Letterman was born and raised in Indianapolis, spending his younger years in the Broad Ripple section of town. He went to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and early in his career served as a pit reporter for ABC; search on YouTube for his interview of Mario Andretti after the former champion crashed out of the 1971 race.
Letterman got into team ownership in the 1990s with former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, and businessman Mike Lanigan came aboard to form what is now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
"Of course he's from here, but his love for this place is extreme," said team driver Graham Rahal, who was a regular guest on "The Late Show" along with numerous other IndyCar drivers. "He pays attention, week-in and week-out. He knows exactly what's happening."