Photos From Race Weekend

One thing that I really enjoy is taking someone to their first Indianapolis 500. Cultivating young fans at an early age is what will save this sport. I like to think I’m doing my part. I took contributor Susan Scruggs and her son Eric to their first Indy 500 in 2004. Eric was fourteen at the time and the bug bit him. He hasn’t missed one, since. Over the years, we have taken some of his friends along. Some loved it, while some did not. This year, as Eric has now turned twenty – he decided it was time to leave his buddies behind and take his girlfriend, Devin instead. Ah…the choices of youth.

I wasn’t sure how a teenage girl would take to my ramblings about the history and allure of the Indianapolis 500. On the way up, I think she thought I was a little strange in my obsession of the event. After visiting the track and the museum on Saturday, I think she understood just a little bit of what I was talking about. She seemed to pick up on a lot of what I was saying and asked all of the right questions of someone that was truly interested rather than someone that was trying to placate me. Here are a few photos from our annual trip to the museum on Saturday…

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Race morning traffic is always interesting. As we found our spot on Kessler Blvd. at 5:50am, we met this interestingly clad bunch from Alabama, parked in front of us. Susan told them about this site, so they insisted on getting my picture taken with them on the back of their car…

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I mentioned the other day just how much I enjoyed roaming the pits on Sunday morning before the race. Once early, when things were relatively calm and quiet – then later, when the cars, crews and the crowd were out there. Rather than providing action shots from the race that you can get anywhere, I thought I would show a few of the shots that I took – as well as some that Susan took just to give a feel for the place on Race Day morning…

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It was a memorable weekend – as they all are for any Indianapolis 500. Tomorrow, I’ll post about my visit to the ABC/ESPN production facility at IMS. That will pretty much put a period on the Month of May. Friday, we’ll look ahead to Texas.

George Phillips


9 Responses to “Photos From Race Weekend”

  1. Bickelmom Says:

    Great pictures! Did you think traffic was worse this year getting into the track? I’ve heard many people say it was worse earlier this year. I hope that means attendance is on the upswing!

  2. nickh360 Says:

    I’d be interested to hear the story as to why Tags team can’t race with the copper wheels. They are sharp looking!

    • I was so disappointed about the lack of copper wheels! On pole day, Tags had the copper wheels and Alex Lloyd’s car had these fantastic gold wheels that just looked so great in the sunshine at speed. I’m sure a little over-governance by our favorite director of competition knocked that idea out…

    • Oilpressure Says:

      I asked one of his mechanics that very question. He explained that the copper is actually a paint and they cannot use painted wheels because the paint covers. and hides potential cracks. I didn’t ask about cars with black wheels, but I’m sure someone out there knows the answer. The only time we’ll see copper wheels is as a show car or when they are transporting the car to and from the garage area. – GP

  3. There’s been much discussion on blogs about the “decline” of the 500, in terms of unexciting, non-overtaking-type races, poor attendence and low television ratings. I felt pretty good about the race until the blogs and the tv ratings totally bummed me out. You’ve been there, George, what’s your opinion on “the state of the greatest spectacle?”

    • Bickelmom Says:

      On the local news they seemed to be saying that parking lots filled faster this year, but then it looked like there were a lot of empty stands.

      • Cavin and Kevin were talking about just this thing on last night’s show. Their theory is that a lot of the people who had bad seats (either ones low down or in the NE Vista on the straightaway, where I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t see turn 4 basically at all) possibly moved to the infield. There, they would have gotten 50% of the value of the seats (i.e. seeing half as much) at 25% of the cost ($20 versus $80+ in the grandstand). I think that holds a lot of water, because the infield was as full as I’ve ever seen it, all the way down the backstretch. I can remember years in the late-’90s / early-’00s when the backstretch was pretty sparse. Now, it is packed all the way down toward turn 2.

        The other thing that might have affected how the crowd looked was the heat. That meant that people were walking up / walking down to get drinks and shade pretty much constantly, so there were always holes in the stands. This doesn’t speak to why there were large groups of empty seats in the east end of the North Vista or on the straightaway end of the NE Vista, but I’ll defer to Curt and Kevin’s idea on that.

        I will say this: my buddy and I got to the Coke Lot around 9:30, or roughly as close to race time as we always get there (or maybe even a little earlier). I’ve never arrived to a Coke Lot that was more than 50% full, except for 2003 when we arrived late and were then faced with a huge line to get in through security at Gate 9 (thereby forcing us to arrive to our seats at about lap 4; it was a dark, dark day). Well, that changed this year. At 9:30, the Coke Lot was at least 75% full, maybe more. That tells me that there were a LOT of people there this weekend. Maybe that didn’t show on TV for one reason or another, but it tells me that we’re certainly not circling the toilet at any speed that can’t be reversed by some smart marketing in the next couple of years and new cars in 2012.

  4. Bickelmom Says:

    Thanks, Geek! Good info and theories!

    Hey, another question, George. In that photo I can’t see the front of the Wasp, but is it being driven or towed? And if it was driven, how did it sound?

  5. To add to the Geek’s note, the two people sitting on my other side left sometime before lap 100 and never returned. While the race started with a number of visible empty seats, I’m sure others left and didn’t come back.

    Biggest infield crowd I’ve ever seen, and most electric atmosphere by far.

    George, meeting you and all the other bloggers, friends, and fantasy racers only helped make this the best time I’ve had in a while-which I’m telling anyone who’ll listen.

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