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SPEEDWAY, Ind.–Thirty-three people raised their hands and took an oath Tuesday. They became American citizens in a ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 33 (the same number of cars in the 500) represented 18 countries, including China, Haiti, El Salvador and Mexico.

Their stories are diverse. But, they all went through a long and tough process to get it done.

“It is a really tough process, a long, long, process. It took five years to be here, but we finally made it and we are really proud to be American citizens now,” said Critian Ramirez, of Bloomington, formerly of Mexico, to our newsgathering partners at WISH-TV.


Lex Funes, of Indianapolis, formerly of El Salvador, waited even longer.

“I waited almost 10 years for this process, but I did it. Finally, I did,” he said.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Pres. Doug Boles, in remarks at the naturalization ceremony, said one of IndyCars most renowned drivers went through the same process.

“Our 2018 Indy 500 winner was born in Australia and in January of 2019 he did just what you guys did and Will Power became a naturalized U.S. citizen,” he said. “We’re so proud of the opportunity to host you here today. We’re so proud of each of you and we are looking forward to helping you along the way.”

For Ramirez, Tuesday was one of the biggest days of his life.

“This is the land of the dreams, so we’ve got to achieve those dreams and that’s what we are about here.”