I have been attending the Indy 500 since 1984 when I was just 11 years old. My grandma introduced me to this race and I was instantly hooked. She attended her last 500 in 2006 as she became dependent on a walker and it was much harder for her to get around. She still watches every IndyCar race and we talk on the phone sharing our thoughts from each race. Since 2006, my wife Stacy started going with me but when Dan Wheldon died, she could not take the thought of another driver possibly losing their life and hasn’t attended a race since. The last couple of years, I have went with my brother and father-in-law. We added two more this year, my mom and my brother’s wife. I finally convinced them to get to the track early so they could take in all the sights and sounds of the pre-race festivities.
None of them had been to the inside of the track so I took them to the Chevy display area, the IndyCar Fan Zone, the Pagoda Plaza and the turn 7 viewing mound of the road course. I left them at different points and ventured back to the garages. I decided to go down the first row where Foyt Racing resides and who do I see? Conor Daly chillin on a golf cart playing on his phone. James Jakes walked up to wipe the seat off as it had misted rain around 8:00am for about 5 minutes. The garage area seemed rather subdued at the time, considering the world’s biggest race would be starting in about 4 hours. You should have seen the swarm of media and fans when David Letterman arrived at the RLL garage area to see Graham and the cars. I’ve always enjoyed Dave’s passion for racing. It would be easy for him to write a check but he gets personally involved.
I met up with my family again for awhile and then as they went to their seats, I made a bee line for pit road. It was my first experience on pit road the morning of the race. Teams were readying the cars and checking pit box equipment. I took a quick video, and I mean quick, of Will Power’s crew practicing tire changes.
Besides the cars, technology, speed and excitement that I enjoy about IndyCar racing is getting together with family and friends. One person that I became friends with on twitter several years ago and wrote for Open Wheels at one time is Matt Hickey. Many of you know him as @Indycar_MN and he has a great IndyCar site of his own. While I was on pit road, Matt calls me and says that he’s back in the pagoda plaza for another 10 minutes. Now most people would probably stay on pit road but I always make time for friends, even one’s I’ve never met in person. It was a pleasure to finally meet the badgerness himself. I also was able to catch up with Ashley Wilson. I became friends with Ashley on twitter when she was Andretti Autosport’s Communications Manager. She works for NBCSN on IndyCar broadcast weekends but since this was an ABC race, she was strictly a fan on race day. She writes for Open Wheels on our Fab 5 Feature and provides insight from a media/pr perspective.
Here are some observations I made while watching the race:
Graham Rahal continues to be en fuego. What could he do in a Chevy? Must be a drag to drive a Honda right now lol!
Honda has work to do on both aero-kit packages. They could not match Chevy’s speed.
Ryan Briscoe did a heck of a job on short notice.
Ganassi versus Penske saga continues to heat up.
Can it get any worse at Dale Coyne Racing?
Has Takuma Sato forgotten how to drive? What was he thinking?
Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan let one get away.
TK going from 3rd to first right before turn 1 entrance was best move of the race.
See you again next year. Thanks for the memories IMS and IndyCar.