Random Thoughts On The Indianapolis 500
Today is always one of the most depressing days of the year. It’s even worse this year, because the calendar shifts next year. That means we have to wait an extra week for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 next May 29th. After four straight weekends up here and being so wrapped up into yesterday’s race all month – it’s all over. Even worse, we have to re-enter the real world with day jobs and such.
Still, it’s time to discuss all of yesterday’s happenings – especially now that I’ve had time to digest everything we witnessed.
First of all the more I think about it, the more impressed I am with how Juan Montoya won yesterday’s race. After he fell back to thirtieth when he had his rear-wing replaced, he overran his pit on the next stop and cost himself an additional five seconds. Yet, he methodically worked his way to the front in dramatic fashion.
Like others that have commented here; I’ve never been much of a Montoya fan. I didn’t care for his brash attitude in 1999, when he replaced Alex Zanardi at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. But even then, his talent was evident. That was apparent when he dominated the 2000 Indianapolis 500 against the mostly inferior drivers and teams of the IRL.
Not only can you not deny Montoya’s talent, there is also no denying his passion. He loves to race. Period. Many questioned Tim Cindric for signing an aging Montoya that was coming off many disappointing seasons in NASCAR. Montoya is the only driver in the series that has multiple wins this season, is the current points leader and has now notched his second Indianapolis 500 victory. Cindric is having the last laugh now.
I also think it was probably sweet revenge for Montoya to win against Ganassi, who had dropped him from his NASCAR team. Although they seem to still have a good relationship; you know Montoya enjoyed passing Ganassi’s Scott Dixon for the lead.
I’ll admit, I was pulling for Power in those closing laps. But you cannot deny that Montoya earned that win. There was nothing lucky about it. He overcame several obstacles and drove the wheels off of that car. My hat is off to him.
Crowd Control: Although things are certain to change before next year’s race, with all of the Project 100 changes coming; I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the crowd flow before the race. With a 12:17 green flag, we left the Pagoda area at 11:10 to head to our seats in Stand A. We entered the tunnel beneath the track. Less than halfway through, the crowd stopped moving. We literally inched along through the rest of the tunnel with very little air. Unfortunately, not everyone applied deodorant yesterday morning. It was not fresh in there.
When we finally inched our way out of the tunnel, it got no better. Under the stands we were basically at a standstill. We were shoulder to shoulder and front to back with many total strangers. Tempers were running short. We finally got to our seats at 11:55. For once, there was not a Yellow-Shirt to be found. We were all left to fend for ourselves in that madness.
I’m not sure what I would suggest, but that’s not my area of expertise. There are many smart people with IMS to figure out how to move large amounts of people. I would think a claustrophobic person would have had major problems. That’s something they need to fix.
Straight, No Chaser: It’s hard to follow a legend. That’s the task that was staring the men of Straight, No Chaser yesterday in following Jim Nabors to sing (Back Home Again in) Indiana before the race. Most of the people I talked to, really liked it. They performed it flawlessly in their own style. I didn’t hate it. Had I seen that performed in an auditorium, I would have given them a standing ovation. But in that setting, I was lukewarm about it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t raise goosebumps either. It just kind of laid there. If they return next year, I’m OK with it. If not, I’m OK with that too.
Penske/Ganassi: I know there are many that absolutely hate the idea of a Penske or Ganassi car winning. It doesn’t bother me. They should win. They are the two best teams out there. If other teams have a problem with those two teams winning everything, it’s up to those teams to raise their own expectations and perform better. If it’s a question of money, thy need to align themselves with better sponsors.
All in all: I think that history will treat this race as a classic. Going from thirtieth to victory is the kind of things legends are made of. There were enough yellows to make it interesting, but nothing too serious. I call it a classic and my driver at the end came in second. I can’t wait to get home today and watch the DVR.
Please Note: Counting NOLA, Barber and four weekends at Indianapolis, Susan and I have been on the road for six of the past seven weekends. As you can imagine, we’re tired. Therefore, I am taking the rest of this week off away from here. I’ll return next Monday with a wrapup of the double-header at Belle Isle.
Thanks to everyone for following along with our racing adventures this spring. Things will ge back to normal when I start back next Monday June 1st.