Finally Made It To NOLA
Although it took much longer than expected, we finally made it to NOLA Motorsports Park. It seems as if we’ve been running off of my mental schedule since we left Nashville last night (7:20 after I had planned on a 6:00 departure). We got to Meridian, MS at 12:30 last night. After finally crashing after 1:00am – old age kicked in and we both just had to get some sleep. We left Meridian at 10:30 this morning – about the time I had originally planned to be here. We finally arrived at the track at around 3:30 local time – after checking into our hotel room with a broken air conditioner. My car was showing 89-degrees while headed to the track, so the air will be needed.
Nevertheless, we are now here. I thought I had familiarized myself with a map of the grounds, but once we got here – I was all turned around. As is typical of most tracks, it is bigger here than it looks on You Tube or on a website. The grounds are very spread out here and we walked a lot of different directions before we got to where we were going.
Shortly after we got here, the skies opened up – and I mean really opened up. The media center here is on the second floor of a permanent structure with a metal roof. As type, I can barely hear myself think due to the rain. We were hoping to make it in time for the second practice. We did, but it may not matter. Practice #2 is currently on hold. They can race in rain, but not in floods. There’s no point in tearing up equipment on Day One. Here are a couple of pics of the beautiful weather we are experiencing right now.
Just as I typed that, the rain stopped like someone had just turned it off. There is still no official word on practice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it doesn’t take place.
But maybe they should. The weather forecast for the weekend is more of the same. There is a front that is expected to stall over the weekend, playing havoc with the full racing schedule throughout the weekend. So long as there is not flooding and puddling on the track, they will qualify tomorrow and race on Sunday.
Although we missed the first practice, I talked to many here that saw it. It seems that some drivers coming off the final turn have slid into the pit entrance before heading down the main straightaway a la Parnelli Jones coming out of Turn Four at Indianapolis. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone does that in qualifying or during the race.
For the record, Tony Kanaan led the first practice with a best lap time of 1:18.875. Kanaan led a march of Chevy domination that saw Chevy take the fastest seven spots on the chart. You have to go all the way to eighth to find James Hinchcliffe as the quickest Honda at a half second behind Kanaan’s time. If Honda wants to stop the bleeding, they have a lot of work to do.
Even though the rain seems to have subsided as I typed, a large clap of thunder just rocked the media center – and not in a good way. We’ve still heard nothing official on practice, but my money says they won’t run anymore today. Susan is sitting next to me pulling up potential seafood restaurants online. Many people have left for the day and we may not be far behind.
So far as racing excitement goes; today has been a bust. I have not seen a single car or even any part of the track surface – just the stands, which seem large and abundant. What crowd we saw was good for a Friday, but it would be unfair for me to even comment about the facilities or the event. I’ll reserve comment for tomorrow. But from what I saw, Michael Andretti and his Andretti Sports Marketing group have done an outstanding job of turning a club track into a suitable racing facility for IndyCar.
For now, I will close. If the second practice takes place, I’ll be back here this afternoon for a write-up. Otherwise, I’ll be back here tomorrow with a lot more thoughts and comments.
Update: As soon as I posted this, IndyCar said that there will be a practice at 5:20 this afternoon. Stay tuned.