You can not ask for a better day of weather for the 98th running of the Indy 500. I have been going to this race since I was 11 years old back in 1984. This year I went with my father-in-law who has been going since 2010, my brother since 2011 and for her very first Indy 500, my mom. I knew the crowd was going to be large this year because we hit stand still traffic on I-465 1/2 mile before the Crawfordsville Road exit at 9:15am. When I say stand still traffic that’s what I mean, because we didn’t reach the stop light on the exit until 11:00am. I think I convinced them that we need to arrive at the track next year by 7:30am. That means coming from Waterloo, Indiana we need to leave by 5:00am.
The race itself was incredible. I was beginning to wonder if there was ever going to be a caution. I thought for sure that someone would have a mechanical problem and not be able to make it back to the pits but it wasn’t happening. When the first caution was thrown at lap 150, it was like every fan was making a mad dash to the restrooms. No one wanted to leave their seats because the racing was so good. As a side note, I ran into George Phillips (OilPressure Blog). I had no idea his seats were in Stand A also.
I had a good view of the James Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell crash. My personal opinion is that Bell had no idea that Hinch was on Ed’s inside. Bell squeezed Carpenter down because he didn’t want to be in the marbles going through turn 1. Hinch needed to come up a little and when he did, Carpenter was the monkey in the middle. He had nowhere to go which caused Hinch and Ed to wreck. Racing is an emotional sport and I can understand why Ed was so mad. Ed had a legitimate chance to win the Indy 500 and he felt like Hinch made a rookie move. On the other hand, Hinch sees an opening, has a run on the guy and makes the move. Hinch also believes he has a car that can win the race and it’s an opportunity to pass two cars in one corner. I view it as a racing incident but I have to say I love seeing the raw emotion. Too many sports nowadays, the players make outrageous sums of money, lose their passion for the game and go through the motions. I may get some negative feedback for this comment but the NBA is a perfect example. I am a huge basketball fan but the NBA isn’t basketball. These guys go through the motions and only play hard when they want to, which is usually the fourth quarter.
The only other issue from the race was the red flag. I think when the decision was made to throw the red flag that IndyCar and IMS made the right call. I do not want the green-white-checker finishes coming to IndyCar. We do not need the sport to be manipulated to created drama. If a race is 500 miles, it should be 500 miles not 502.5 or 505 miles. This is the series marquee event and the proper use of the red flag allowed the race to have a chance to finish under green. Bell’s crash spewed debris everywhere and it was going to take some time to clean it up. There was also a question about the safer barrier having some damage so the safety crews needed to inspect that. I know some old-timers will say that it’s part of racing if it finishes under yellow and I agree to some extent, but if you can use a red flag within the rules, why not give the drivers and fans an opportunity to finish the race under green? The last several years have finished under yellow. The races have been excellent but the finishes were melodramatic.
For those wondering there are numerous hazards that might cause a need to halt or prematurely end a session. Many hazards, such as rain, darkness, a blocked course (due to debris, water, or safety vehicles), a car on fire, or a multi-car crash (especially one that results in serious injuries or one that results in damage to walls, fences or the surface itself which require repairs) might prompt series officials to call for the red flag.
Some series use a red flag when a severe accident has occurred or to temporarily stop a race nearing the end of a race. This is usually done when a collision requiring cleanup would otherwise extend the caution period to take longer than the amount of race laps available to finish the race, when a fuel spill occurs on the circuit, or to maximize safety team work. The IndyCar rule book talks about the use of the red flag (7.2.10) but it doesn’t specify the conditions necessary to bring out a red flag.
At the end of the race I asked my mom what she thought of it. She has been to
NASCAR races at Michigan Speedway but never an IndyCar race. She said, “they raced! I loved the sound of the engines, the speed of the cars and that they actually raced. Can I go again next year?” You bet mom. I even found a friend from high school at the track. Angie and her husband actually sat in Stand A also in the lower box 27, which is straight down from my seat in box 43. They had a great time and it was good to see them.
Did you introduce anyone to IndyCar this year? I’d enjoy hearing your Indy 500 story and if you introduced a fan to the Indy 500 for the first time. Please send me a tweet at @davidindycar