SONOMA, Calif. (May 10, 2016) - Auburn native Alexander Rossi will tackle the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 for the first time on Sunday, May 29. Before taking on that challenge, the rookie Verizon IndyCar Series driver traded his racing gloves for a climbing harness as he faced the 39-foot tall indoor climbing wall at Sacramento State on Tuesday.

This marked Rossi's first visit to Sacramento since signing with Andretti Autosport earlier this year. The outdoor and action-sport enthusiast took to Sacramento State's 39' 6" climbing wall at The WELL with gusto, alongside Climbing Coordinator Kenny Williams. The state-of-the-art climbing wall is one of the largest indoor climbing walls in the California State University System.

"This was the first time I'd climbed a rock wall in probably 12 years. It was great and fun to learn something new," said Rossi. "Much like racing, the confidence you have directly relates to the result you get in the end."

Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Andretti Autosport Castrol Edge/Curb Honda, began his racing career in karts at the Sonoma Raceway Karting Center at just 11 years old; he got his first taste of the 12-turn road course at age 13 with a three-day Jim Russell Racing School course. He then quickly climbed the American racing ranks before moving on to international competition in Formula BMW, GP3 Series, Formula Renault 3.5 Series and the GP2 Series. He joined the Formula One ranks as a test driver in 2011 and made five F1 starts for Manor Marussia team in 2015, becoming only the third American driver to race in F1 since 1990.

"My very first competitive karting championship was at Sonoma. It was my first foray into the whole sport, and I loved it. Finally, when I was 13, I did a three-day skills course and that was the first time I got in a formula car," said Rossi, who has posted an average finish of 15th in four Verizon IndyCar Series starts.. "To be able to come back to Sonoma 11 years later in an IndyCar is pretty spectacular."

Rossi hits the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend's Angie's List Grand Prix before taking the green flag on the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29. He will return to Sonoma Raceway for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale, Sept. 16-18. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit