Maybe we were a little later than normal to arrive but the crowd seemed larger than the past few years. We had a longer line than normal to get into the gate but it moved fairly fast. I'm pretty sure we were inside the track before 11AM. It was closer to 10AM than the 9:30AM I was shooting for to be at the airport parking lot (a slow McDonalds is to blame for that). I left home a little after 8AM.
The airport shuttle TO the track was great (as always).... the shuttle FROM the track SUCKED (compared to past years). For whatever reason, they ran the buses north and onto 16th St to depart the track which put the buses into the melee of people all trying to leave the track. In past years the buses headed south to leave so that they weren't driving into the belly of the beast. Not sure whose bright idea this change was. It slowed the bus shuttle down considerably. ...And probably wasn't helped by what seemed to be a larger crowd anyway.
It also would appear that the shuttle service won't be happening again next year. Apparently it has to do with federal regulations and public transit and some rule changes... They got a waiver for this year but they were saying this year is the end of the service because of this. (The Star reported this year was actually in jeopardy itself but they were able to get the waiver).
RANT: Can someone PLEASE fix/upgrade the sound system at the track? It would be nice if all the 150.00 seats could HEAR the PA system. I'm not talking while the cars are running... I'm talking about at any point in the day. I know IMS upgraded to the QSC speakers a few years back for fidelity BUT they ultimately under-speced the system. There's not enough speakers for the coverage they are asking/need of the system. I cannot believe the original design is what they settled on. Someone had to compromise on the number of enclosures for some reason (it is not the fault of the enclosures themselves).
At this point, screw the fidelity... Just get some working 70V paging horns covering the Paddock Penthouse. They're relatively inexpensive and you can hear those over the din of the crowd and you can also hear those when the cars are running (as long as they are not on the front stretch). ....Although by all means if Tony George wants to look under his couch cushions for some change I'm sure he could find enough to put in some more of the QSC boxes to cover the Paddock Penthouse.
RAVE: Considering the size of the crowd, the Speedway does a great job accommodating everyone. There are SEVERAL food stands and merch stands throughout the grounds. You don't have to walk far to find a booth selling food, drinks, merch, programs, or even scanner frequencies.
There's always drama at the Speedway. For those that follow the leadup to the race throughout the month you really get a good feeling for the subplots that are flowing. Seeing that Panther Racing car (Meira) leading late in the race is one of those things. They are not a super team like Andretti-Green, Penske, or Ganassi... Meira qualified well and raced it even better. Had his team gotten him out of the pits a tick quicker on the final stop then he might've been drinking milk today. ...2nd place isn't bad though.
Sarah Fisher had a roller coaster of a month. From putting this team together and driving her own car... to having her main sponsor stiff her and not come thru with the check. So she put a LOT into that car. ...even got some $$$ help from fans... got some late sponsors to fill the gap... But still needed a good finish (for a payday as well as for PR to increase exposure), plus needed to keep the wheels on the car and not wreck it. Unfortunately, she had a miscue of her own that set her back somewhat and then she got taken out (wrecked) by an accident that she was just a victim of. It's no wonder she broke into tears during her TV interview after she'd been knocked out of the race.
There were other stories out there... Schecter's good run (altho mechanical failure ended his solid run).
Will we ever hear the end of Briscoe and Danica? I'm sure the princess will keep the feud alive with the help of a Danica friendly media. The wreck was Briscoe's fault (IMHO) and I don't blame her for being mad. I'm just getting a little tired of the Danica fest. Danica, Danica, Danica. She could stand a little humility... she could learn a little from Sarah in that regard. As I told someone at the track today before we knew exactly what had happened (after we saw her get punted in pit lane)- "It won't matter what the replay shows, nothing is ever Danica's fault". Danica, Danica, Danica....
Tony Kanan needs to rethink that green paint scheme and maybe listen to all the whispers of green being bad luck for a race car. Maybe 7-11 (sponsor) can be convinced to switch their colors to blue and white... or red and white... anything but that unlucky green. He's snakebit at Indy. Maybe the "Andretti Luck" is wearing off on him.
Dixon had a great month. Solid all month. Pole position. Fast in practice. Always in contention on race day. I didn't see any flaws by the crew in the pits either. It all just fell into place for him. He'd been in contention plenty of times before and been wrecked (or penalized) and cost him his chance for the trophy. This month was simply his.
Will Power's Team Goes to Work in the Pits:
Contenders Castroneves, Meira, and Schecter pit:
Tony Kanan and Dan Wheldon pit:
Oriel Servia's Team Goes to Work:
Kanan's car ends it day not like he had hoped:
Sarah Fisher's day also ends wrong:
Alex Lloyd's wrecked car comes to a stop in pit lane:
A Safety worker assists Lloyd after his wreck:
Scott Dixon pulls down pit lane for the final time... and as the 2008 Indy winner:
A crowd view looking north up Georgetown just after Dixon swigged the milk: