We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 93 days to go, we look back with Tony Kanaan at his first time at the Indianapolis 500 as not only a fan, but also a driver.
Mine was in 2002, my first race at Indy with Mo Nunn. I told myself I’d never go into IMS unless it was for me to be racing at the 500, so the first time I crossed the tunnel was when I got invited to be in the race.
It was so different, almost magical. By 2002 I had been racing in CART for four years and I had won a big race, the U.S. 500 in Michigan. But nothing compared to what I felt on that race morning.
Before having the chance to attend the Indy 500, I remember watching the race every year with my father. The 1989 one that Emmo won really comes to mind when I dig for memories of watching the race as a kid.
I only understood the meaning of the 500 after I raced there the first time. Obviously I watched it many times on TV before being part of it, but that day in 2002 I got it. I had a great car and was leading by a bunch before I caught some oil left on track by another car and crashed.