Random Thoughts On The Indianapolis 500

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After sleeping on it and thinking about it driving home Monday afternoon; I feel like I’ve now had more time to digest the 100th Running of The Indianapolis 500. It has now sunken in that Alexander Rossi won the race and also how he won it. I’ve also read enough articles and comments to know that there is no shortage of opinions and a wide variance in them.

It seems that it is now politically correct to slam those that have a problem with Rossi’s victory. If you didn’t like it, you’re obviously a curmudgeon that has no right to an opinion in the first place, so your opinion shouldn’t matter. Well, first off – opinions are just that – opinions. Everybody has one and everyone is entitled to one. Just because it doesn’t measure up to yours doesn’t mean it’s flawed. It’s just…different.

This PC viewpoint seems to come from those that enjoy scoffing at those of us that hold the Indianapolis 500 as something sacred. They would like to believe that this weekend’s double-header in Detroit is just as important as the Indianapolis 500 and the Month of May. I’m sorry, it’s not. Neither is any other race on the schedule.

Does this mean I’m in the group that is accused of hating Rossi’s win because he’s a rookie or that he “lucked” into winning a fuel-mileage race? No. Luck plays a huge part in most IndyCar races and the Indianapolis 500 is no exception. Each of AJ Foyt’s four wins came partially due to luck – or bad luck befalling another driver. I say that, even though AJ Foyt is my favorite driver of all-time.

I do not hate the fact that Alexander Rossi won the 2016 Indianapolis 500, but I don’t love it either. I have mixed emotions on it. I think most people go into each race with a list of their favorites that they would like to see drinking milk at the end of the day. I’m no different. Then as the race wears on and it becomes obvious that less than a handful can win it – you start re-evaluating your favorites. Not since 2013, has one of my favorites (Tony Kanaan) ended up winning the race. In 2014, I had to watch Helio Castroneves lose by the narrowest of margins. Last year, I was disappointed that Will Power lost to Juan Montoya.

With about twenty laps to go, I looked at the scoring pylon. I told my brother that I would be very happy with any of the Top Three at that time – Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden or James Hinchcliffe. At that point, I figured it was a good bet that one of them would win. Sitting in the stands, you don’t always know what’s going on and I was not fully aware of where everyone stood with fuel. As it turned out, all three of those cars had to pit. When Rossi assumed the lead on Lap 197, I figured he would have to pit and Carlos Muñoz would win, since he pitted just a few laps earlier. Between the two of them, I found myself pulling for Rossi.

I never hid the fact that Alexander Rossi ticked me off with his Trackside interview back in the winter when he was first signed. He came across as aloof, cocky, arrogant and completely disinterested in running IndyCar. I got the impression if the worst seat in Formula One suddenly opened, he would bolt from Bryan Herta and Michael Andretti in a second. You knew that the only reason he was here in the first place was because his ride in F1 was bought out from under him at the last minute.

Even though I didn’t care for what I saw from his personality, there was no denying that the guy could drive. Considering he had never driven on an oval in his life when he raced at Phoenix a couple of months ago, he did well to finish fourteenth. Indianapolis was his second oval. He was never spectacular in practice, but solid. He learned his way around quickly all week and barely missed out on the Fast Nine and started eleventh – the fastest of all of the five rookies.

I did remark to Susan about halfway through Sunday’s race that I was impressed with Rossi, as he seemed to be holding his own. But I would be lying if I said I had it in the back of my mind that he might win. It never entered my mind that Rossi would win the biggest race in the world as a twenty-four year-old rookie.

Am I angered by this win? No. Am I ecstatic with it? No to that question, also.

In all honesty, I can’t think of any Indianapolis 500 where I went away mad, except for when Joe Leonard’s turbine flamed out in 1968. I wasn’t mad that Bobby Unser had won, I was just mad that the coolest looking car I had ever seen, had lost. Then again, I was only nine years old at the time. I’d like to think I’ve evolved some since then, but that could be up for debate.

Originally, I was concerned with Rossi winning. I wasn’t sure that he fully understood what he had just done. In the past few months, I had read and seen interviews with him and his attitude seemed very nonchalant towards IndyCar in general and the Indianapolis 500 in particular. He said the right things, but they sounded very disingenuous.

Unlike some, it didn’t bother me that he was reserved in Victory Lane. None of the three four-time winning legends were very animated while celebrating any of those twelve wins, yet we know how much they meant to each of them.

I just hope that one day, Alexander Rossi will look back and appreciate the magnitude of what he accomplished on Sunday. I think he will.

History is full of drivers that didn’t fully appreciate the Indianapolis 500 at first, until they had been hurt – either physically or emotionally by the track. It is well documented that Dario Franchitti didn’t “get it” when he first ran at Indianapolis in 2002. It wasn’t until a broken back from a motorcycle accident prevented him from running in the 2003 race, that he suddenly realized what he was missing. Jimmy Vasser once asked “who needs milk?” only to find out how much he needed it as a driver, when he earned it as a car owner in 2013.

Even though his father won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986, the Champ Car culture that Graham Rahal came from tended to downplay the importance of the race. The first couple of years he ran, it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal to the younger Rahal. As it does with most drivers, that changed after a few years and you can tell just how important it is to Graham. Even Rick Mears admits that when he won his first “500” in 1979, it was just another race to him at the time. It wasn’t until Gordon Johncock denied him his second win in 1982, that Mears appreciated just how tough of a race it is to actually win.

My fear with Rossi winning is that he won’t be back to defend his title next year. He was asked in the Monday press conference whether he would be running in IndyCar or Formula One in 2017. His answer? He wouldn’t say. He just said he didn’t want to think of 2017 right now. He just wanted to focus on the last couple of days. I get that, but it still bothers me he wouldn’t take the opportunity to squelch those rumors. But his post-race interviews and his speech at last night’s Victory Dinner showed me a man that was deeply touched by what happened on Sunday. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume this does actually mean a lot to him.

So for now, I’ll be glad that a talented, good-looking American has won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. He has the potential to be a great champion and become a fresh new face for IndyCar – if he wants to.

TV Coverage: I watched the race after we got home yesterday. Overall, I thought ABC did a very good job with their coverage. There were some hits and misses, but overall they did a good job with it.

But there were a few low points. We’ll start with the lowest being newcomer Marty Smith. It was bad enough that his being dressed like a clown served as a distraction from what he was saying. But when the camera came back to him, he was holding the script up to his face reading it. When he realized he was back on camera, he lowered it for a second but then brought it back up to his face. I think I bought my last pair of readers for $3 at Walmart. Perhaps he should spring for a pair.

I’m also not a huge fan of Lindsay Czarniak. Something just seems a little too over-the-top with her. I’d much prefer the more down-to-earth Sara Walsh, but that’s just me.

They did spend too much time focused on the leaders during the race, but with the lead changing so much – that may have been warranted.

On the plus side, I thought that this was one of Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear’s better races together. Cheever did predict early on in that last stint that if there was no yellow, that there would be a surprise winner. He was right.

Goodyear didn’t dumb down the broadcast like he usually does. He actually talked a little more technical to the point that I learned something new (although I can’t remember exactly what it was right now).

Their pre-race features were well done, especially Allen Bestwick’s interview with the three four-time winners.

Overall, I thought ABC/ESPN did a very solid job.

Pre-Race Ceremonies: Mercifully, Florence Henderson’s role in the pre-race ceremonies was reduced to Grand Marshall. As far as I can tell, that means you order the drivers to their cars before the race and get in the way in Victory Lane afterwards. Best of all, she no longer sings.

The addition of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir was a major plus. It sounded good at the track as well as on television. Their rendition of God Bless America was stirring and may have been my highlight of the pre-race. I also thought it was a nice touch to put the solo trumpeter for Taps in the starter’s stand.

Darius Rucker (Hootie) singing the National Anthem sort of left me cold. I talked to many who loved it, but I was underwhelmed.

My most pleasant surprise? Josh Kaufman singing (Back Home Again in) Indiana. As most know, I was prepared to hate it. When I pulled him up on You Tube, I just thought his wispy voice would never be able to pull it off. I was wrong. He played it straight and I even liked his repeating of the last line, with emphasis which showed off his vocal range. His voice worked well with the Indiana Children’s Choir and I liked what I heard. I saw an interview early Sunday morning on local TV and he seemed very humbled and honored to sing it. I never thought I would say this, but I really liked his performance.

The most awkward moment was AJ Foyt giving the command for the cars to roll, which meant nothing more than motioning the cars to move off the grid. I got the impression it had never even been discussed before, much less rehearsed. AJ didn’t seem like he knew what to do. Roger Penske in the pace car didn’t know what to do and neither did the drivers in the front row. I guess it sounded good in theory.

The Dreaded Tunnel: In 2014 and 2015, it took us forty-five minutes to make our way through the tunnel just south of the yard of bricks before the race, in order to get from the Pagoda Plaza to our seats in Stand A. Doug Boles said he had a plan in place to remedy the situation, and he did.

They stopped vehicle traffic on the wider side of the tunnel and had all four lanes open for foot traffic. This time it took only ten minutes to go from the Pagoda to Stand A. Well done, Mr. Boles.

All in All: The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was a rousing success. My fear was that all the hype and the sellout crowd would lead to a dud of a race. That was not the case. Newcomers or returnees after an extended hiatus, had to like what they saw and will hopefully renew their tickets.

Aside from Rossi’s win, I didn’t even discuss the actual race. There were fifty-four lead changes and there was a battle for the lead on every lap. There were some spectacular crashes and brilliant moves on the track. There was also plenty to talk about regarding Townsend Bell, but that’s another post for later. Overall, it was a very exciting event. If you went and didn’t have a good time, maybe racing just isn’t your thing.

But the star of this show was not Alexander Rossi. It was IMS President Doug Boles. He has proven what can be done with hard work. He has made the Indianapolis 500 cool again inside the I-465 loop. It’ll be interesting to see what rabbit he pulls out of his hat for 2017.

For me personally, it was a great race and a very magical Month of May. Now it’s time for the post-500 letdown to begin.

George Phillips

Please Note: I’m going to take a bit of a break. It’s been a long and enjoyable month, but I’m tired. There will be no post here until next Monday when I do my “Random Thoughts” on the Detroit GP at Belle Isle. I may post some pics from the race weekend in the next day or so, but don’t hold me to it. Thanks to everyone for following along all throughout the month. – GP

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36 Responses to “Random Thoughts On The Indianapolis 500”

  1. I just can’t decide how I feel about this one myself. On one hand we have an american kid who won for likeable Herta but then we also have a kid who really doesn’t care to be here for long. As much as I like a surprise winner at Detroit or Alabama, it is a bit hard to swallow when a “scrub” wins the biggest race in history on fuel mileage…. I hate to sound like that but that is honestly how I feel and I am trying to talk myself our of it. I just don’t think I like Rossi that much….

  2. Jim Gallo Says:

    The end results came as a big surprise to myself and many others as well. Focused on the end, with Munoz and Newgarden in site of the checkered flag, the strategy that Herta and Rossi used proved to be right. I sure would not refer to any of them as a “scrub”, since Rossi showed the past two weeks he was quite capable of running at the front. How will Rossi be viewed this time next year? Time and actions will only tell. But there is no denying the fact that he won and won fair. For those that say a fuel mileage win is not really a win, they have not followed any form of racing. The fastest cars seldom win. Those that cover the distance in the shorted amount of time are the winners. And making the fewest stops, no matter what for, cut your time. His emotions in Victory Lane were not what others may have wanted, but they were his. Accept it. Would I have been happier if another driver would have won? Maybe, but it once again proved to be “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Just a few of my thoughts. Thanks for your time.

  3. Good for Rossi, he caught a break, but he put himself in position to catch it and that’s racing as they say. Good for Doug Boles, he is doing a great job. ABC/Espn coverage was better than usual, but I’d prefer NBC. Wanted Joe New to win but they waited too long for a caution I guess. Hard to believe there wasn’t a yellow in those last several laps. Good for IMS. My rookie, Indycar-clueless sister-in-law came up from Chattanooga and said she had a great time at the race, surprising me. I think she’s a Newgarten fan also. And one more time, good for Doug Boles.

  4. tonelok Says:

    I agree with George with on Rossi’s personality I was a bit turned off as well when he signed with To be fair, he is up against characters like: Hinch, Newgarden, Rahal, Kanaan, Pagenaud, Castroneves, even Bell. Those are some pretty big, outgoing personalities. Some people just are not like that. Andretti comes to mind. I think it is more of the way his personality comes across to people than intended arrogance or aloofness. Whether he is aware of his effect, who knows? I thought he was genuinely touched by his win as well as a bit shocked. We all have our favs to win and Rossi was probably not on many lists, but that is what makes Indy so great, it is so difficult to predict. They must have a blast in Vegas with this race. Alexander Rossi deserves every bit of this, I just hope he milks it (no pun intended) 🙂

  5. I was just happy to see a young American win the race. No offense to the veterans in the field, but with it being the 100th running I think it is better to have one of the new generation of drivers win. Someone that has no history with “the split”. Time to start looking forward, and putting the past behind us.

    Doug Boles is amazing. Can we draft him for president? I can’t believe how seemlessly they managed a crowd of that magnitude. I look forward to seeing what further changes they make to IMS. I hope they get the fences behind the main straight pushed back out onto Georgetown road. It was really hard to move back there with the new elevators and stair towers.

    Townsend Bell was amazing all day, but holy hell he was aggressive. I can’t remember seeing a driver slamming the door so many times on others going into turn 1. Unfortunate end to his race.

    Munoz will win one here yet. This kid is just a natural on this track.

    Newgarden was on fire all day. The moves he made, and the way he drove that car just blew me away. If he’s not in a Penske ride next year I’ll be shocked.

    I felt bad for Karam. He had a hell of a run for DRR. Sure hope he finds a full time ride.

    Hinch was great all day, but his car seemed to fade on him late in the race.

    It seemed to me that RHR had the best car all day. Tough break for him, but impressive team work towing Rossi around the last 10 laps or so. A great reminder how much a team sport Indycar is, as opposed to F1. Something I don’t think was lost on Rossi.

    If Rahal ever learns how to qualify here, he’ll be a force to content with. Too much to overcome though, and that late race caution was a bad break for him.

  6. I understand why people feel the way they do. But I would rather see someone win with this way than to have a bogus yellow to make it “exciting.” This fuel strategy is a part of racing and should be.

    Biggest drawback is that we have a driver here who really wants to be in F1 and won’t stay if he can get out. We have seen this with other drivers in recent years who did the same thing. Heck even Montoya did it years ago. I am not a fan of any of these drivers and never will be.

    I said the same thing to my son that George said to his brother with about 20 laps to go. I would have been happy with either of the top three at that point. All I can say about the winner is that he does not drive for Penske or Ganassi and that is a positive to me! But those of you who think this is great that a “young” Indy car driver won, you are probably hitching your wagon to the wrong horse.

    I saw a replay of the race and the end when Rossi appeared to have no idea he was supposed to pour the milk over his head. Somebody finally whispered in his ear and gave him the milk back and he did do it. Just a little thing, but it did expose how little this American knew about the history of the race.

    • I noticed that someone told him to do that. I was hoping he would tell them “no”. I despise that new “tradition”. Drink the milk, then hold it and cherish it. Don’t disgrace it by pouring it everywhere. But that’s just me. – GP

      • Gurney Eagle Says:

        It’s not just you, George.

      • I was also pleased that he drank the milk neatly, not letting it run down his chin. I was disappointed later when he was told to pour it over his head and he did. If that were me, I would cherish the cap that said I had won the race and would not want to ruin it.

      • Matt B. (Dayton, OH) Says:

        I agree with you George.

  7. jhall14 Says:

    No issues at all at the track. Great race, stunned that Rossi/Herta pulled off that gamble, but good for them. My only issue is with IMPD traffic control on 30th street, both pre and post race. I hit the line at 30th and Kessler at 5:21am, moved .2 miles in an hour and a half. Once past Lafayette Road, things went better on getting into track. We were parked at 7:30am finally.

    Once there, was told all ADA Parking was full. Luckily my son walked up and we found a place to park just off the ADA Parking, another fella from Michigan followed me up and we found a place for him to park also. Did not know the guy but he was very appreciative. His father was in a walker, so I felt happy, and it ended in a good way.

    When leaving North 40, we left on the North tunnel road, had to stop short of 30th, waited 5 minutes and proceeded onto 30th St. Then was stopped just short of large walkgate of North 40 and sat there for 30 minutes as the throng of people walked by. Totally ridiculous. Not sure what IMPD changed, but it did not work. I live approximately 45 minutes from track and was home at 5:10pm. A buddy of mine was stuck in North 40, he got home at 7:00pm. i tweeted IMPD with my thoughts, doubt that I hear from them.

    All in all, a good day. 500 miles and an American Champion. I can live with that.

  8. S0CSeven Says:

    I taped the race on my PVR in order to watch the race (FF) commercial free and it was supposed to end at 3:30 PM Eastern time. I start watching an hour after the start.

    Brilliant race, loved every minute of it but the PVR shut off at exactly 3:30 pm which turned out to be lap 199.

    Lots of ‘F’ bombs and lots of laughter later I had to hit the internet to find out who won.

    I have to admit I was majorly underwhelmed. After all the buildup I found myself saying ‘whatever’ and turning the TV off. I can’t shake that feeling ……… the ending just didn’t resonate.

  9. hello George. I think he did enough to win and that’s all that matters. if the fans remember wheldon won his second 500 on hildebrands bad luck . we shouldn’t have double standards.

    felt bad for karam and rahal. aj and larry need to over haul again. glad that newgarden, Hildebrand and clauson all had great to good days.

    the racing was good . only thing about the tv coverage I thought lacked was no coverage of the vintage history of the race.

    so until next may lets see a great championship run and then another great 500!

  10. I root for all American drivers in the field so I was fairly happy with Rossi. I hope he sticks around, or if he does end up in F1 he drives for Haas. I wouldn’t be annoyed if Rossi went to Haas in F1 (or I suppose a tier 1 team) but if he ditches Indycar for Manor or Sauber that’s pretty lame. I would have preferred to see a photo finish with Hinchcliffe and Newgarden, but I was happy if it had to be a fuel win it was a Non-Penske/Ganassi driver. Rossi had led laps earlier along with Tagliani when they stayed out so he did show speed during the race. I enjoyed the 2016 race more than 2015, but for now 2014 remains my favorite Indy 500. Overall, the 2016 race had a lot of action and passing and was won by an unexpected American driver and all of that is good. I hope this race represents a turning point from what has been to me a pretty boring season. With Road America, Iowa, Watkins Glen, Pocono, & Toronto coming up there is some reason for optimism.

  11. billytheskink Says:

    I enjoy Rossi’s interviews, he’s always on an even keel and he talks extremely fast once he gets going. I have a theory that he is actually the long-lost son of minor 1980s celebrity John Moschitta, Jr. (best known to my generation as “Micro Machine Man”)…

    Anyways, I think winning the 500, as opposed to any other race on the schedule, makes it much more likely that Rossi stays in Indycar long term. Perhaps it increases the demand for him in Europe, but it absolutely makes him more in-demand for seats and sponsors in this series. I think it makes want to stay here more too. Either way, this ought to be the first of many victories in whatever Rossi races, he’s a clear talent.

  12. Ron Ford Says:

    I care not one whit how a driver acts after winning the 500 or what they do with the milk as long as they take a swig. I would have loved to see Newgarden, Munoz, TK, and Hinch duke it out at the end, but twas not to be. I can recall races when the the winner was in a different time zone than the rest of the field. This race ended with half the field on the lead lap. There was some damn good racing with edge-of-the-seat passing throughout the day. I found it interesting that other than Helio, the rest of the Penske and Ganassi drivers were non-factors. I thought the National Anthem was weak, but I liked the Back Home Again in Indiana presentation. I also liked seeing all the Hulman-George family together. Overall, I think Doug Boles and everybody involved did a wonderful job of presenting the 100th running. Contrast the Indy500 show with that other race where the winner led 394 of 400 spellbinding laps.

  13. I listened to Rossi’s radio the last 5 or 6 laps and it was amazing to hear the the banter between he and Herta as they worked to conserve fuel. “Clutch and coast” was the order of the day as Rossi tried to stretch every drop. It wasn’t until halfway down the back stretch as Munoz was closing was he given the order to “Go Full Throttle”. When they realized that Rossi was going to win the 500, the emotion in everyone’s voice, especially Rossi’s, truly showed that he cared and was overwhelmed by what just happened. I became a fan of Alexander Rossi’s that last 5 laps.

    Anyone that says this win is a fluke, is plain and simple not a student of the history of the 500. This race more than any other is filled with dramatic moments that have made champions in the most unlikely of circumstances. To me, that is what makes the best race in the world to watch. Until that checkered flag waves, you literally don’t know who the winner may be.

    Does Rossi, stay or go, who knows? The fact that he didn’t commit to 2017 to me is plain and simple, he doesn’t know, he barely had a ride this year. He wouldn’t be the first 500 winner to ride the 500 win to F1, ie Montoya & Villenueve in more recent years. It will be up to IndyCar as much as Rossi whether he stays or goes. He’s got to have a ride with someone to stay. Too many past winners have had trouble getting rides, ie Ward, Wheldon, even Kanaan struggled to find one.

    As for me, I’m giving Rossi a chance, I think he just may be a star in making.

    • Jim Gallo Says:

      Agree and well said…

    • Yannick Says:

      Here’s hoping someone has recorded those last 10 laps of conversation between Rossi and Herta and puts them on youtube for everybody to take in. Maybe even an official video of that would be possible from IndyCar. I’d love watching that.

      Rossi is now a Honda driver. He himself said he does not expect to be in a Grand Prix (F1) car any time soon. He is still very much a rookie, in spite of his pretty amazing victory this past Sunday, so only if he keeps improving and wins another race this season, F1 might consider him again. To be honest, in F1 I can only imagine him teaming up with Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren because of Honda. But that would mean McLaren would have to let go 2 former champions to hire 2 rookies to drive their cars which is kind of unlikely.
      Here’s wishing him lots of good progress on his learning curve in IndyCar.

      The quote of the day certainly was the following dialogue from Rossi’s radio which could be heard on the TV broadcast:
      Herta: “You have just won the Indy 500!”
      Rossi: “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!”

      He certainly was overwhelmed by what he had just achieved, and grateful, too. Only when he got out of the car after taking pretty long to calm down, was he able to give professional replies to the interviewers’ questions like he was trained to do whilst racing in Europe.

      Anyone remember when he had that seat fitting for Dale Coyne 2 years ago before Xmas? He has been on his way to IndyCar for longer than most are remembering. He’s a deserving winner for sure, and I’d love to see him interviewed on the Letterman show. Does David’s successor still invite Indy 500 winners?

  14. Dan Bordenkecher Says:

    Alexander has earned the right to listen to any opportunity that might come his way. He has slogged through the F1 feeder series for a long time. He is no different than any of us, he’ll choose the path he feels gives him the best opportunity for success. The 500 and the series will be great with or without him. Remember Villeneuve, Brack, Montoya, and de Ferran didn’t return after their wins. Totally agree that Doug Boles is the winner of the weekend. As for traffic; rode my bike took less than an hour from front door to seat!

    • EDGAR Emmitt Says:

      You took the words out of my moth Dan.
      I’m happy that an American Boy won the 100th running.

  15. sejarzo Says:

    The reality is that winning the 500 is no longer a realistic stepping stone to a deal (or a better one) in F1. As Bob Varsha has commented to a few folks on twitter after the finish, it’s an apples vs. oranges thing at this point. As ol’ Hank said…”We live in two different worlds, dear.”

  16. Lost in all this is the amazing job done by Marco Andretti, if it is true that his crew put front tires on the wrong side on one pit stop. Unless it has changed in the last few years, the right side tires on ovals are larger that the left side tires, and are built differently. I can see how that would upset the handling of the car in a major way. To keep the car off the wall and on the lead lap was a MAJOR accomplishment!

  17. The fastest car does not always win the race (See Danica/Japan) but THE smartest strategy and the biggest pair sure can. Look at this video of the last 5 laps and go down to the 4:20 mark and listen to the next 30 seconds. This is why I am pleased about and for the winner. I believe he totally understands the magnitude of what he had just accomplished. He utters 3 simple words twice. I understand from those words that he actually gets it.

    • Wow. I haven’t watched the TV broadcast yet, so that’s the first time I’ve heard that. Alex is obviously completely overcome by emotion on the cool down lap. So, yeah, he got it together by the time the car stopped, but I’d say it’s pretty clear that he gets it.

    • Thanks for sharing this with all of us. I saw it on Sunday, but I couldn’t understand the words. Maybe because we were jumping up and down and screaming ourselves. I saw true emotion from him when he took off his helmet. This did mean something to Alex Rossi.

      Thanks again George and Susan for your excellent coverage of May. I am sorry it is all over. Detroit is a let down, but I will be over myself by the weekend.

  18. I think that there are two things that factor into what we all see with Alexander Rossi:

    1) His personality is very measured, extremely even keeled for somebody in their mid-20s. Seven or so years of trying year after year to work methodically into Formula 1 will do that to a kid, although I suspect that he was already largely that way to begin with. He’s not effusive like a Helio or a Hinchcliffe. It’s just not how he’s wired.

    2) He’s 24 years old. So, a little of the aloofness and “been-there-ness” is going to be there like it will be with most American human beings of a similar age (I’d say that guys like Josef are sort of outliers, in that he seems like he’d probably be more tuned into the history of his accomplishment, even if he were to have won this year at 25). But I bet that if you went back and watched footage of Troy Ruttman winning the race at 22 years old, there would be a similar sense of unknowingness of what he’d just done (though maybe not as much, since he was already in his 4th start). It goes with being young. I was there once. I’d possibly have acted much the same at that age (though were I suddenly to be thrown in a car next year and improbably win the 2017 race, I’d definitely turn into a blubbering heap in Victory Lane that A.J. Foyt would say unkind things about…but getting older and having kids has done things to me).

    Whatever the case, I’m a fan of the kid (have been since he kicked everybody’s butt at the Formula BMW World Finals in 2008), and as much as I’d have preferred a few others to win the race from a completely selfish standpoint, I’m good with Alexander Rossi being an Indy 500 winner. I kind of hope that he stays in IndyCar next year, but I also kind of hope he goes and reps the Stars and Stripes in F1 next year, to show the world that we can produce a great F1 driver just as well as any other country. Either way, I’ll be happy, and I’ll wish him great success.

  19. Sitting in J Stand, I for one can tell you that Rossi was damn excited to win this race as he hopped out of his stalled car and had to be briefly held back by the Holmatro boys from running across the track and crowd surfing back down the main straight. I think the dude was just shocked by the whole thing. How collected and composed do you expect a 24 y/o rookie with little to no shot of winning at noon to be when he’s got a wreath on his neck, a jug of milk in his hand, and a mic in his face 3 hours later?

    I don’t quite understand the people who denigrate this win because it was a “fuel mileage” race. It wasn’t. It just happened to be a race that didn’t have a caution in the final 50 or so laps. Would you rather see a caution, either real or fake like Napcar does? Regardless, what Rossi did this year is no different than what Sato did a few years back, just with different results: both drivers/teams made a strategic decision to attempt a racing move that no one else was willing to make in order to either win or lose the Indianapolis 500 Mile Sweepstakes. For Sato, he ended up in the wall on turn 797. For Rossi, he ended up crossing the Yard of Bricks for the 200th time under idle with the clutch in. It’s all a part of the wonderment that is the 500.

    As for the race itself from a spectator standpoint, I’m confused as to why this race being a sellout made every single yellowshirt I came across feel compelled to be an absolute asshole? My father and I were seated in different sections this year, and I wanted to help him carry his cooler up to his seat as he’s able to enjoy the race but not carry the necessary provisions up to row MM in the NW Vista; I was prohibited from entering the section to assist him at 8:45am, and furthermore we were notified that any unattended coolers would be confiscated and destroyed. What? Ended up having to ask a stranger to assist, but the point remains. After that ordeal, he wanted to see my seats in J Stand, as we’ve never sat there before either. He was refused entry to J Stand with me to see the seats – at 9:15am. I don’t get it. Normally the yellowshirts are at least friendly and helpful. I guess the 100th running is a special event indeed.

    As for the IMPD, i think they definitely dropped the ball this year, at least getting people out of the NW quadrant. Took us 1:45 just to get out of the Speedway High School parking lot onto southbound Lynhurst, and another hour to get across 22nd to a near traffic-less Crawfordsville Rd. Took all of 3 minutes to get from 22nd and Crawfordsville to 465 S. One cop at the SHS lot exit, one at Lynhurst and 22nd, and a cop halting all traffic on 22nd until there was no traffic in sight on Crawfordsville. Surely could have coned off a merge from 22nd to Crawfordsville to assist with the flow a little. It’s not hard. They’ve done this before i think?

    All in all – a great race on a great day. Can’t wait until next year.

  20. My disappointment with the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was seeing RHR taken out of the race by Townsend Bell. It took place right in front of me and I could not believe my eyes.

    As for Rossi winning, that was more Bryan Herta setting him up to be there at the end and going for it without having to come in for a splash and dash. Herta is one of the best team owners and team directors in the business and his two Indianapolis 500 wins prove it. If I was a young driver I, too, would want to catch Bryan Herta’s eye and become his driver becaus he is in it to win and has shown he can take the team to a higher level of performance than ever expected.

    Is Newgarden going to be driving for Penske next year?! How about Rossi?

    I enjoyed everything about this past weekend and I couldn’t ask for anything more. The Indianapolis 500 truly is The Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

    • EDGAR Emmitt Says:

      I agree Bell drives like a guy with his head up his butt.Once a year he races. Almost each of those years he has taken out cars that could have won the race.
      Karam was running a good race and up to 5th ,yup Bell takes him out like it was the last lap.My favorite driver RHR was taken out by Bell,who was the fault?

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      I believe the right front man on RHR sent him without even looking. If he had held him for only a half-second, he’d have been behind Bell coming out, but not out of the race. Bell had nowhere to go and tried to avoid RHR at all costs. Sadly someone else was in that spot.

      Full disclosure: I like Bell, and I like RHR, but RHR was sent out into a no-win situation.

      • Agreed with all of that. If you watch the replay, RHR’s RH front wheel man was actually looking down at the ground or a tire when he waved RHR out, not at TBell, so he didn’t even notice that TBell was coming, let alone Helio coming down the “fast lane”. Bell wound up with RHR suddenly coming out of his box to his left and Helio in the lane to his right. Where was he supposed to go? As for the Sage incident, Sage and TBell had just gone past Josef on either side, and then tried to go side by side into the corner. Yeah, TBell wiggled a bit at the apex of Turn 1, but Sage was never going to have a whole lot of a chance hanging on around the outside of what was a single groove corner all day. Who should have backed out: Sage or TBell? Sage was slightly ahead (but nowhere near completely clear) at turn-in, but TBell had the inside line, so that is 100% debatable. That’s what makes such a thing, to my mind, a “racin’ deal”. Two guys, one piece of asphalt. It’s a 50/50 proposition.

  21. EDGAR Emmitt Says:

    The entire prerace was wonderful. Josh did a beautiful job,he has a passion on the importance of the song at Indy.

    All in all I felt the race lived up to the hype of the 100th running.

    For what’s it worth I spent $46 and took a premium bus from the Hampton downtown Indy we left at 7:45 was in my seat at 8:30. After the race I walked back to the air conditioner bus waited till it was full and was back to the hotel within 30 minutes.It’s the only way to go.

  22. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    I’m rapidly moving from ‘neutral’ to ‘positive’ on Rossi.

    His ‘aloofness’ or ‘coolness’ when in the public setting we’ve come to see through his consistent manner, almost indicates that he is an introvert. Not everyone is flamboyant or outwardly passionate, no matter our romantic vision for our racing heroes might be.

    That radio transmission was very telling. It was the polar opposite of Paul Tracy in 2002 when he passed Helio and thought he had won and ‘stuck it’ to the IRL, Penske, the Georges, and anyone else he had spurned. His tears and the reluctance to emerge from the cockpit until more composed, to me is no different than Helio or TK. Only different in that he wanted a moment to settle, and quite telling that winning meant more than we could perhaps imagine.

    I share many similarities with you George during my formative Indy 500 years, but this bit was most apt for me:
    “In all honesty, I can’t think of any Indianapolis 500 where I went away mad, except for when Joe Leonard’s turbine flamed out in 1968. I wasn’t mad that Bobby Unser had won, I was just mad that the coolest looking car I had ever seen, had lost.”

    I’ve had the very same experience (mine was the Yellow Submarine in 1979 when my man Big Al lost). I was totally deflated about the winner. “Who IS this guy?” I thought to my 10 year old self.

    “That” guy was Rick Mears.

    Only time will tell what story Rossi will write in the pages of the 500. Until such time, I suggest we all take a step back and simply savor the goodness of the momentous May that some of us were fortunate to have experienced in person.

  23. Ron Ford Says:

    Is it May yet? 😦

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