It’s that time of year again. It’s time for the annual Oilpressure.com Indianapolis 500 Trivia Contest. As usual, there are thirty-three questions listed below that are guaranteed to make you sweat a little bit. Last year, I thought there was no chance that anyone would get them all correct. Not only did someone do it, a lot of people did it. So I had to revert to scoring the last lap – I looked to see which of the all-correct answers I received first.
The official entry list for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was released yesterday with few surprises – except that there are only thirty-three cars entered for thirty-two drivers. For the most part – that’s a good thing. There was a time just a couple of weeks ago that it looked doubtful if they were going to be able to hit the magic number of thirty-three cars. You have to go all the way back to 1941 to find a year when less than thirty-three started the race. That was due to an early morning garage fire on Race Day that eliminated the car of George Barringer. Sam Hanks had been injured in a crash before the race and also didn’t start.
If you’ve ever spent any time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, chances are you’ve encountered a member of the IMS Safety Patrol or “Yellow Shirts” as they are commonly called now. For the most part, my experience with the Yellow Shirts has been very favorable – as opposed to what I’ve dealt with from local law enforcement officials on race morning outside the Speedway. Last year, I made the mistake of questioning an officer’s instructions on 16th Street. The next thing I knew, he was shouting at the top of his lungs and threatening to have me arrested. Since I didn’t care for the thought of spending the 500 in a cell, I reluctantly shut my mouth – but I digress.
Epic. Incredible. Spectacular. Outstanding. Best racing on the planet. Instant classic. These were some of the glowing terms I saw on Twitter immediately following yesterday’s Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300; and for good reason – this may have been one of the most exciting races I have ever seen on any type of circuit and in any series. There were no late-race penalties to decide the outcome. There was no artificial fabrication (excuse the redundancy) with a green-white-checker finish. It was just good hard racing that was decided between the drivers on the track, with James Hinchcliffe making the move of the season to pass Takuma Sato on the final turn to take the win.
Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always considered the month of May to be the exclusive domain of the Indianapolis 500 on the open-wheel calendar. For only the fourth time in the eighteen-year existence of what is now known as the IZOD IndyCar Series, there is another race scheduled outside of Indianapolis to take place during the month of May. In 1999, the series ran the ill-fated race in Charlotte on May 1st. I was sitting in Turn One of that race when three spectators were fatally injured by an errant tire flying over the Turn Four catch fence. In 2010, the last IndyCar race at Kansas Speedway was also run on May 1st, which was a Saturday. The following year, the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 was scheduled to run on May 1st, but weather forced postponement to Monday May 2nd.
For years, I’ve lamented the fact that my father inexplicably gave up our tickets to the Indianapolis 500 after several years of sitting in prime seats in Stand A. My first race was in 1965, but he took my brothers in 1964. We had been sitting in Stand A since the 1967 race and I considered those seats to be our domain each May for at least the next few decades. As it turns out, the 1972 race was my last race to attend for twenty years. For reasons I still don’t know, my father decided that he would not renew his tickets for 1973.