It’s Grand Prix Race Day At IMS

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Good morning from a sunny and currently slightly cool Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s currently 57-dergees; but in the sunshine, I’m perfectly comfortable wearing shorts. The local TV station that was on during breakfast at the hotel said that there was rain on the way later today. Right now, the radar looks clear to the west. I’m no meteorologist, but you’d have a hard time convincing me we were going to have another day like we had yesterday. The high today is to be about 75. It is just about a picture-perfect day for a race.

Currently, the armada of two-seaters are giving rides. There must be about six of them going at any one time. It makes for nice background music as I sit here and type – much more so than the grunge music I heard blaring through the loud speakers as I drove into the track this morning. Call me old-school, but I’m not a fan of music playing while cars are on track – even if they are two-seaters.

Although there is a buzz about the place, it matched the buzz that I saw at Barber two weeks ago. But make no mistake – in no way does it even come close to what the morning of the “500” feels like.

Is it fair to compare this event to the “500”? Probably not, but it is inevitable – especially for the inaugural event. Once it starts to stand on its own, it may be different. But for now, it is only natural to compare the two – especially with the “500” looming just two weeks from now.

It is odd to have the Verizon IndyCars not taking the track here until 3:30 this afternoon. We’re not used to support races on Race Day at IMS. The first race will be the US F200 cars at 11:00. Then the Mazda Pro Series begins at 12:10. Then the schedule calls for the Cooper Tires Indy Lights at 1:30. Finally, it’s the Verizon IndyCars taking the green flag (dark lights due to the standing start) at 3:50 – about the time the “500” is usually ending.

I keep harping on this, and I probably shouldn’t – I came here in 2002 to see the Formula One cars run “backwards” on this track and it didn’t seem odd. Probably because the sound of the engines was so different and the entire crowd was completely different from the usual “500” crowd. This weekend, I’m seeing the same cars that I’ve seen on the oval. The crowd is a typical IndyCar crowd. there is just something very unnatural unsettling about seeing these cars go the “wrong” way. Maybe once the lights go out and the race begins, I’ll forget where we are – but I doubt it. Quite honestly, I’ll be glad when tomorrow comes and the cars start running the correct way. Then all will be right with the world.

Some noticed that I did not pick a winner yesterday. I haven’t gotten one right yet this season, so I’m not sure it matters. It may be worth noting however, that I did correctly pick the winner of the last IndyCar race here. Unfortunately, I’m not picking Tony Kanaan to win this race today. I just don’t think the Ganassi cars are that hooked up here. Although they each placed only one driver in the Firestone Fast Six yesterday – I think the Penske cars have been more consistent through the weekend. The driver I’m picking really rises to occasions like this and loves this race track. That’s why I think it will be Helio Castroneves who will go down in history as the winner of the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. It will make for a very happy 39th birthday for the popular Brazilian. We’ll see.

Check back in a little bit. I’ll have the much-anticipated review of the new tenderloin sandwich at IMS.

George Phillips

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3 Responses to “It’s Grand Prix Race Day At IMS”

  1. Just curious, George (hey, I made a joke) but what’s your take on crowd size? Is it too early to tell yet? I know the powers-that-be were hoping for 40,000 and some think they were low-balling…anybody there but you?

    • It’s really hard to tell. I’ll say this…I got here about 8:30 and there was NO traffic. Drove down Georgetown at over 30 mph, made a right and drove straight into the track without even one car in front of me. Does that tell you anything? But milling about, it seems to be a good crowd behind the Pagoda.

  2. Yannick Says:

    George, I have seen videos and photos of Hunter-Reay’s backwards crash into the outside of the Turn 1 (cannot call it Turn 14) wall in qualifying.

    There is something I find very odd about that place: unlike with every street circuit on the calendar, there were no stacks of tired in front of the wall at that corner so Hunter-Reay’s car received severe damage from the impact.

    Back when Ralf Schumacher crashed his Williams in the same place and had to sit out the rest of the F1 season due to his injuries, they installed a SAFER barrier leading down towards the front stretch. So IMS knows that an unprotected wall in that place is just not enough. Why haven’t they at least put up some tires like it would have been the case on every street circuit the Verizon IndyCar Series goes to? And for every DTM race on the road course of Eurospeedway Lausitz, there are always huge tire barriers in the turns leading back onto the oval in front of the wall. My guess is that Andretti Autosport would not have to repair near as much on the car had the tire barrier been in place.
    These kind of tires can be quickly removed, too, so practise for the Indy 500 can go ahead the next day.
    Goes to show this road course still has room for improvement.
    Here’s hoping that IMS will put the tire barrier in there in time for the race.

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