#TBT: Drivers rally for our fans at 2015 Indy 500 qualifying

Published On January 7, 2016 » 1666 Views» By J. Douglas Boles » #TBT, Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500, Verizon IndyCar Series

For more trips down Memory Lane, visit the #TBT archives here.

May 2015 was an interesting month. The race ended in spectacular fashion with one of the most memorable duels in “500” history.

But maybe my best memory, for this #TBT blog, was how the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers rallied on qualifying weekend when thousands of fans sat in the grandstands wondering what was happening behind the scenes.

We all remember the spectacular crashes that included cars getting off the ground. On qualifying morning when Ed Carpenter had the same issue, IndyCar officials felt it was best to stop practice and postpone qualifying until an alternative could be found that insured everyone’s safety.

While I appreciated the caution, my frustration was for the fans who were waiting for activity on track and some communication about what was happening next. I took to the track PA system twice to give the best update I could and to thank the fans for being so passionate.

When Mark Miles and Derrick Walker were preparing for their press conference announcing the next steps of the day, I told the PR team that I wanted the infield stage prepared with the PA system working and the video screens playing to all fans at the racetrack. Collectively, we called a handful of our drivers and ask them to meet me on stage to put on an impromptu Q&A session to thank and entertain the fans until on-track activity resumed.

It became one of my highlights of 2015. Drivers showed up, thanked the fans and answered many questions. Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Conor Daly and others were quick to accept the invite.

But the highlight was when I brought Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe to the stage together. I wasn’t sure what I was going to ask them, then it hit me. These two colorful personalities should just do their own show, interviewing each other. They had no idea I was going to ask that and what happened afterwards was one of the best few minutes of 2015.

Because only the people at the racetrack saw what it happened, we had planned on posting this later in the week leading into the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately, Hinch had his accident and we didn’t think showing it while he was recovering was appropriate.

So today, we’re posting it for all our fans to see and to show just how much the drivers appreciate Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans and are willing to take time out of their schedule, even on Qualifying Day for the Indianapolis 500, to thank them.

Thank you to the drivers who joined me on stage and thank you to the fans that stuck with us through a difficult few hours that day last May. You are the best fans in the world!

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About The Author

J. Douglas Boles

I’m a lifelong Indianapolis Motor Speedway fan and have attended or participated at some level in 34 Indianapolis 500 races. I get it honestly, as my dad was the USAC yearbook editor about the time the roadster was winning its last few races at Indy, so the Indy 500 history and tradition runs deep in my family. Currently I serve as the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My hero growing up was A.J. Foyt. When I blog, I hope to convey some of memories of IMS overlaid with my daily experiences here as I would want to see it from a true fans point of view.
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