This year's Indy 500 winner brought to you (in part) by an Alaskan

The new champion of the Indianapolis 500 has an Alaska connection, someone that has been a true believer in him since he was a teenager.

One of Alexander Rossi's sponsors is Michael Gesser, owner of Alaskan Coffee Roasters in Fairbanks.

Rossi, 24, was a surprise winner of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A rookie and unheralded entrant, Rossi led the Andretti Autosport team to victory by dramatically nursing his car across the finish line as it was running out of fuel.

Besides kissing the bricks, a tradition of champions at the Brickyard, Rossi downed the traditional drink of champions – milk. He could have poured it in his coffee.

Rossi, who has lived in Europe since he was 16, was born and grew up in California where he became a race car driver. The way Rossi explains his Alaska link, his father is a friend of Gesser's and a few years ago invited him to watch his son drive. Gesser signed on as a sponsor.

One might think that Rossi, who had never even seen the 2.5-mile oval of the Speedway until a month or two ago, would not have set foot in Alaska. But that's not the case. During the hubbub of his post-race interviews, he did say he has been to Alaska.

Anchorage, he specified. His brief first impressions?


"Cold," Rossi said. "Dark."

Apparently he dropped by in winter.