Indianapolis 500 Opening Day

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Good morning from a sunny and warm Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It seems strange to be calling this Opening Day, since cars have been on the track since this past Thursday. But today is the first day for cars to take to the famed oval – in the correct position. I was taken to task for using the term “normal” yesterday – but when IndyCars have run in one direction for 105 years, I would say yesterday’s direction was not normal. Today’s is. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed yesterday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis and hope that it continues to grow into a very successful event. But today begins what I grew up with. it is the reason I have come to this place for almost fifty years.

Before getting into any more racing topics, I want to wish all mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day – especially my own mother. Today is the first time I’ve missed spending Mother’s day with her since I don’t know when. She will turn ninety this summer and is as sharp mentally as she was when she was my age. And, yes – she reads every post I put up here. Physically? She’s probably in better shape than me. She exercises. I don’t. Last year, Susan and I came to IMS on Opening Day on Saturday and then went to go see my mother on the next day for Mother’s Day – where she was a good sport and posed for the picture below. This year, I’m not quite the good son. I’ve stayed over in Indianapolis after the Grand Prix, so that I can attend the first day of Indianapolis 500 practice. She’s a good sport and I hope she understands – but if I were in her shoes, I’m not sure I would.

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Based on the thunder that woke me around 5:30 this morning, I wasn’t sure there would be an Opening Day. I looked out the hotel room window and it was pouring down rain. The radar didn’t look so great either. But it stopped raining around 6:30 and by 8:00, the sun was shining. It’ll make for a green race track, but that’s OK.

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Speaking of the track, it’s amazing what the crews did overnight, transforming the track from a road course back to an oval. Gone is the Verizon signage on the wall in the south end. The barriers for the road course have mysteriously disappeared as well. Almost all signs of yesterday’s race have vanished. The framework of the starting lights is still there, but I can assume it will be gone by early next week. I’m also hoping the Tag Heuer ad is gone before long. I’m not a fan of advertising on the walls of IMS. Kudos to the crews here. I’m sure they had one long night.

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I walked through the garage area when I first arrived this morning. I came across one curious finding – the winning car from yesterday, was getting a new look for the 500. Simon Pagenaud’s car will be carrying the livery of Lucas Oil during the 500. So, the Oculus look from yesterday had to go. These days, the cars are covered with vinyl wrap instead of paint. It just seemed a strange way to treat the winning car from yesterday. I guess there is no preserving the look of the winning car for the Grand Prix.

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Anyway, It’s almost time for the cars to take to the track for the first time. I’m heading out for now. Check back soon and often. Also, follow me on Twitter (@Oilpressureblog) for instatnt comments and pictures.

George Phillips

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2 Responses to “Indianapolis 500 Opening Day”

  1. surprises me that they aren’t keeping Pagenaud’s car since it’s the 1st winner. Guess you can always resticker a show car later… I’ve actually warmed to the concept of the Grand Prix opening up what is now basically the Fortnight of May in Indy

  2. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for writing and photographing, George. Although Indy 500 can provide good exposure for “Lucas Oil” on car 77, I would’ve guessed that Oculus Transportation would also like exposure. Perhaps it’s a secondary sponsor of car 77.
    I assume that SPM had a car dedicated to racing the 500 as 77 and that the GP-winning car was being stripped then wrapped and converted to speedway configuration to be a backup car (and later in season reconverted to road-course-winning form).

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