The Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrates its 100th year of existence.
Cars begin to roll into position on the grid for the 93rd Indy 500.
Oriel Servia shows off his entry for "Strangest Helmet Design"
The Purex car hoped to clean up today... but it wasn't to be...
Driver Mike Conway has a shot at Rookie of the Year with contender Matos hurting his chances with a late wreck (that was avoidable).
Sarah Fisher had perhaps her best all around month of May.
Milka Duno provided the role of 'moving chicane'.
A photo for Dukie of John Andretti making a pit stop.
TV Star Buddy Ebsen makes an appearance at the 500. OK... I know it's Letterman but the older he gets the more he looks like Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett, Barnaby Jones).
Townsend Bell had an excellent run today. He was on a 2nd week program and parlayed that into a solid 4th place finish.
Townsend shows his racing smarts by getting around a pitted Milka Duno rather than having to pass her on the track. For anyone who needs to test their scanner at the track, I recommend tuning in Milka's channel. It's a constant stream of coaching and spotting "Hold your line... Get up on him... Get in the draft... Watch your line... You got it, keep it up... Be patient...."
The only thing 'pinker' than Pink Lloyd's car was his driving suit.
Ryan Hunter-Reay puts the Vision Racing Izod car into a couple of walls (outside wall and then pit wall).
Vitor Meira's AJ Foyt Crew put out the fire on his ABC Supply Co. machine... and then send him back out to race. Meira was later involved in the Matos crash which left Vitor with a couple of broken vertebrae.
Eventual race winner Helio Castroneves makes a pit stop.
Winner Castroneves is discouraged from climbing the fence by Indy 500/IRL personnel (AKA Idiots).
He didn't care.... He was climbing the fence!
Let's talk about the fence climbing first. I'm pretty sure the reason they didn't want him climbing the fence was because ABC/ESPN was trying to rush the finish to wrap the show. As Helio was coming around on his victory lap off turn 4 the Penske team informed him TV was running late and they wanted him rolling straight into victory lane. Helio replied "(But) I wanna climb the fence!"
...And so did every last person at the track... and I'd venture to say, so did every TV viewer. This kind of stuff is EXACTLY why I appreciate the job Versus does with their race coverage. Let the natural drama and story develop... don't worry about the clock! Screw you ABC/ESPN!!
The race didn't have a lot of drama itself. It appears some of the recent rule tweaks have hurt the racing more than helped. Tweaking of the rear wheelbase was disallowed this year and there was some speculation this made the cars harder to handle in traffic. With that in mind, the Helio drama was the storyline to save the race for fans and media. To try and short-circuit and abbreviate that storyline for both Helio and fans is just inexcusable in my opinion. Let it play out in its own time. Totally short-sighted by ABC/ESPN and for the speedway to actually try and accommodate them...BOO! HISS!!
I know I'm big on slamming Danica... but she did have a good race today. I actually saw her passing cars on the track. And on the final restart, not only did she not go backwards (as often happens), she got racy with Dan Wheldon and forced him to think more about defending his 2nd place position than taking a shot at Helio. And in the clean air, Helio checked out. 3rd place was a very solid finish for Danica... and it appeared to be a "legitimate" 3rd place (solid pit stops and the accelerator)... not a "massaged" 3rd place (short pitting, fuel strategy, and a lucky timed yellow flag or two).
Since she's "Danica" that 3rd place probably overshadowed the 2nd place that Wheldon got in his Natl Guard sponsored Panther machine. ...Or maybe that camo paint job just made him too hard to see.
He had a steady drive to where he needed to be at the end... but just like Vitor last year (also in a Panther machine), 2nd place was all that was in it.
This race marked a first... It's the first time that a 500 featuring both an Andretti and a Foyt had both those names finishing all 200 laps. John Andretti and Foyt IV made it happen. Hard to believe Mario and AJ didn't do it more themselves in all the years at the speedway.
I don't know... I heard the radio yapping on about the traffic and crowds really being up this morning. We were going to park at the airport and pay the (now) 30.00ea for the shuttle service but apparently the charter service was not operating in the same way Indygo did. No "race parking" signs etc at the airport that we saw directing people to the proper area and we ended up just driving on in toward the track and paying to park in someone's yard. With all the radio talk we were worried we didn't have time to figure out the bus deal or take chances with parking. Well, we could've parked closer... and we had little trouble getting in at the gate. In fact, if we would've went to our 'suggested' gate #6 we would've been in with NO waiting.
It breaks my heart to see empty seats at the Speedway. The lower seats at Pit in are in all likelihood overpriced. You look at those seats sitting empty and then you look just a few feet on down at the infield viewing mound and see it just jam packed (way before the race start even). I don't think the T4 viewing mound is a better 'seat' than the lower level seats at pit in. But it's probably a better value. The empty aluminum is sending the wrong signal though. I'd GREATLY reduce the price of those seats at the least (to general admission rates)... Or I'd paint them blue... or red... and make them actual general admission seats (first come, first served). OR... I'd just admit those seats aren't very desirable and just do away with them and put in some kind of vendor area (gift shop, restaurant, display area (cars, mini museum, etc) with seating above it (since the upper level seats are being used).
I'm not sure there was really more people this year but that seems to be the storyline. That said, we just took our seats today and didn't walk around in the infield. If the majority of the extra crowd was in the infield, we wouldn't have seen it.
I'd re-look at the recent tweaks and car data and try and figure out where they made running in traffic so much more difficult. Maybe it isn't the rule tweaks per se', maybe the teams have just decided to go with low downforce for sheer speed and are making the on track passing problem themselves while expecting pit strategy to move them to the front where their low downforce will keep them there. If that's the case, I don't know what you do about that. That means the teams have made a decision that might not make for battles on the track, but they feel is in their best interest to win the race.
...Of course... there is the constant drumbeat to bring back innovation to the cars.... I'm right there with that drumbeat. I remember a few years back when Scott Sharp's team developed the 'soft limiter' which gave him an advantage to keep him out of the momentum killing 'hard limiter' and ultimately saw him win the pole that year. The media immediately jumped on this tiny innovation almost like they did with the Penske push-rod Mercedez. It became a story itself. I've long advocated opening the rulebook more for the Indy 500. Make a normal IRL car perfectly legal for the Indy 500... but allow for more chassis tweaks that wouldn't be legal for another IRL race. If someone wants to make an Indy only engine, if it fits within the engine rules, let them. Don't require them to supply the entire field. Same with the chassis.
Is this "Engine Check" a new thing? For the life of me I don't remember this dedicated 'engine check' time being on the schedule before. At about (I think) 11:50AM there was a designated period where teams fired their engines with the cars on the grid. I thought year's ago there was even a rule where the engines could NOT be fired up on race day until the "(Ladies and) Gentlemen, start your engines!" command. I'm just curious if this is new... and if there's another point other than to check that the cars will fire for real when the command is given?
I'm sure I'll think of some more comments and add them later...
I ended up with a last minute late gig on Saturday afterall (after having the date blacked out) so I ended up not getting my battery charged on the camera (among many things I'd left to the last minute) which limited my photo taking (I was worried about it lasting to the finish)... I also had someone to my right front who managed to stand several times just at the absolute wrong moment. I'd be following a car in my viewfinder and then there this guy is... right where I planned to snap the shot... Oh well...
I still managed about 100 photos. Now... if I just had a nicer camera...