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INDIANAPOLIS – Time and speed measure the Indianapolis 500.

Sunday, Alex Palou won the pole position with a four-lap, 10-mile drive around the 2 ½-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway that was four-thousandths of a second faster than Rinus VeeKay.

At more than 234 mph, your eyes don’t blink that fast. But it’s the margin that made Palou the winner of one of motorsports’ most prestigious prizes.

A few hundred yards down pit road, cheers and tears flowed from an Idaho family that measured the moment by the 18 years of emotional and financial sacrifice it took to achieve this dream. Their son, and their grandson, 21-year-old IndyCar rookie Sting Ray Robb, secured the 32nd spot in the 33-car field for next Sunday’s race during last-chance qualifying, and their emotions spilled like only it can at a place like this.

“The reality is, we’re standing here watching my boy’s dream come true,” said Sting Ray’s mom, Kimmie Serrano, wiping tears. “I can’t even tell you what an incredible experience it is.”

It’s a story that makes the Indy 500 so unique. For all the powerhouse names that have been part of this race, there’s also a feel-good story that becomes an emotional favorite. The Sting Ray Robb journey has been a family affair built on talent, determination and their strong faith in God.

First, though, there’s that name: Sting Ray.

His father, Larry Robb, has long been a Corvette enthusiast and formed a couple of Vette clubs at home in Payette, Idaho (for you old-time baseball fans, that's also the home of former Minnesota Twins great and Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon "Killer" Killebrew).

“The clubs are still active in raising money for underprivileged children, doing Christmas toy runs and things like that,” Larry Robb said. “There are a lot of great, great friends in that. And that’s kind of (like) the racing community as well. They all stick together. It’s a family.”

Family was a strong presence Sunday.

Phil and Suzy Davis, Sting Ray’s grandparents, stood next to the Dale Coyne Racing pit stand beaming with pride, thinking of all the miles they’d driven to haul racing gear around the country from their home in Payette.

They’ve been with him for every lap since he was 5, never missing a race.

“We started with a go-kart that we’d put in the back of a Denali,” said Phil Davis. “Everybody else had these big trailers and all of the equipment. We had it in the back of our car.”

There’s more to that story, Mom said. They were the little team that could, running against competition with more money and more equipment.

“We’d roll up with our little blue popup tent and show up next to these guys who’d have trailers full of carts and engines,” Serrano said. “We had the same engine that we’d been rebuilding in the hotel room for two years.”

It’s always been a family journey. Sting Ray’s parents are divorced but united in support of his career.

“Grandma and Grandpa have never missed a race,” said Larry Robb, Sting Ray’s father. “I missed a race when they were in Canada and I was in the hospital trying not to die.”

That’s when Sting Ray was 8 and Larry had contracted a blood disease after being hospitalized with kidney stones.

“But I was still calling every half hour, asking, ‘What are the tire pressures? What’s the temperature?’” he said. “And the next week he won the national championship.”

Sting Ray’s progression has been impressive. He won several national karting championships and twice was ranked the top U.S. driver in his age group.

He won karting’s triple crown with the Florida Winter Tour championship, the CanAm championship and the Challenge of the Americas championship, and drove three years for Team USA, competing in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

He went on to win the Bryan Herta Scholarship at the Skip Barber Karts to Cars Shootout, a package that helped him join the Road to Indy when he was 15. In 2020, he won the Indy Pro 2000 championship.

Scholarships from his junior series success have been important because this isn’t a family blessed with a vault of gold they could empty into Sting Ray’s racing future.

“Sting Ray’s mother and I had a grocery store for 20 years,” Larry Robb said. “We never had a lot of money, and then when we did start getting money we were spending it on gasoline and diesel. We haven’t gone without food, but we’ve pretty much given everything we have. I have two words to describe it: one is ‘everything’ and the other is ‘all.’ There’s no exaggeration in that. We’ve given it all. But that’s just money. What we got back is everything.”

Suzy Davis, Sting Ray’s grandmother, said, “We would put Sting Ray on a plane and we didn’t know where the money was going to come from for that race. But then a phone call would come and it’s someone saying, ‘How can we help?’ This is where God intends him to be. People we don’t even know came up helped, and now they’re our family. Half of Idaho is on its way here for the 500.”

Pieter Rossi, father of former Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, is a big part of the extended family. He has managed Sting Ray’s career the past five years, and both he and Alexander were in the team pit Sunday doling out congratulatory hugs and handshakes.

“(Pieter) takes care of us, and Alexander has always supported Sting Ray,” Larry Robb said. “Wow, what a family.”

When Sting Ray climbed from his race car, he and his dad hugged with a long, emotional embrace that made it clear what a lifelong pursuit this has been. It started when Sting Ray, at age 3, told his grandmother he wanted to be a Formula 1 driver.

“He didn’t know what Formula 1 and IndyCar were, but when he got a go-kart and found out that American racing was in IndyCar, he decided he wanted to be in IndyCar,” Larry Robb said. “And it never stopped. There were days we’d wonder if we’d just had enough and want to give up. But he never backed off, even on the bad days.”

It’s that character, and the family’s faith in God, that kept him moving forward. Larry Robb believes there’s a high calling for his son.

“This is where you have to look at life,” he said. “I believe any kid that gets into racing and is involved with their parents and has the family help and passion, they won’t be in trouble. They’ll be good citizens and they’ll change the world.

"That’s his hope, to change the world. I don’t know how, but I know God’s got a plan for him.”