With Halloween around the corner, many people are thinking about their Halloween costume for this year. Some are even making suggestions for their favorite athletes and celebrities. What costumes do you suggest for the stars of the IZOD IndyCar series?
To help you with your suggestions, we have some never-before seen photos of many of the drivers from Halloween 2004. In 2004, the year-end IndyCar Championship Celebration was held on a 3-day Disney Cruise. The cruise ship was still at sea on Halloween night, the day after Tony Kanaan and his Andretti-Green Racing team celebrated their season championship. For the on-board Halloween party, most of the drivers and team owners were in costume.
The stars of the party were series champion Tony Kanaan and his AGR teammates (Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, and Bryan Herta) who all dressed up as women. Here they are along with 2-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk who was dressed as Hugh Heffner.
Dan Wheldon, Arie Luyendyk, Tony Kanaan, Bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti
Team owner Sam Schmidt got in the spirit with his Crash Test Dummy costume.
Team owner Michael Andretti was Batman, the Dark Knight. Here he is along with Arie and Arie Jr.
Arie Luyendyk, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Michael Andretti
One of the more creative costumes was 2-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. who was dressed as Beetlejuice from the Tim Burton movie.
Al Unser Jr.
The drivers weren’t the only ones to dress up. Here is Ed Carpenter as Joe Dirt along with his wife Heather.
And here is 1999 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee who was placed under arrest by his wife Norma.
Now that you have seen this crazy and fun side of your favorite drivers, what other costumes would you recommend for them?
Sometimes, it’s easier to be a cynic — to look at things glass half full and what not. Wednesday, I drove two hours through the cornfields of Indiana and Ohio to step out of my temperate 72 degree, air-conditioned car and out into 100 degree, humid heat. There were noises, lots of loud noises and oh, by the way, did I mention the dirt and dust? Yes, it was everywhere.
OH and did I mention…. no, no, I honestly can’t go any further. This week, members of both the INDYCAR and IMS staff headed to Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio and the 7th annual Prelude to the Dream (Read more here) to support Tony Kanaan as he represented the IZOD IndyCar Series in the event. And admittedly, like any good race fan, I can only look back on the evening, humidity and dirt included, with rose-colored glasses.
A perfect night of racing
The event, which supports Children’s Hospitals across the nation puts drivers from a variety of racing series behind the wheel of Late Model stock cars running around the half-mile oval at Eldora. Tony’s team, which included Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Dave Blaney and Aric Almirola, represented Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
Okay, now I get to be “glass half full” because wow, how cool to watch some of the best drivers out there today all side-by-side in support of a great cause. Or seriously, how great to catch them patting each other on the back or joking together in the paddock. It reminded me of a friend who once said “racing is racing, no matter who sanctions it.” It’s hard to agree until you head to an event where the racing community is united like they were at Prelude to the Dream.
Just like at the IMS, plenty of drivers from different series to watch!
I watched as the familar paint scheme of Tony’s Indy car slide around a dirt track on a stock car and laughed when I caught the “fine print” telling fans that they could see TK run at speeds over 220 mph on Versus this Saturday.
The finer points of TK's paint scheme
Sliding around on the dirt track
I enjoyed walking through “pit lane” (or dirt lane, if you will…) and catching some of NASCAR’s stars, like Denny Hamlin driving in support of his Denny Hamlin Foundation, and realizing that I would see the same drivers in just a few short weeks at the Brickyard 400. And I found humor as Tony realized one of the differences between an Indy-style car and a stock car (see below!)
Denny Hamlin consults on some tire damage
Different way to get out of the driver's seat
But mostly, I simply kicked back and enjoyed as some of the best drivers competed for a wonderful cause. Just like at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, fans had the chance to watch more than just one racing series represented. Check out a few more photos here and share below. Did you make it out to Eldora this week? Do you think any of the drivers that competed will take a stab at the INDYCAR World Championships $5 Million Challenge this October?
Yes, the Indy 500 Fan of the Day program is back and we’re ready to find the best fans Indianapolis Motor Speedway has to offer! This year, Cholula Hot Sauce became a sponsor of Fan of the Day and will award prizes to the lucky fan chosen each day.
We’ve seen how fun, crazy, and excited you fans can be and we’re asking you to bring all those qualities to the Speedway for the rest of May. Winners will receive a 4-pack of sauces, a t-shirt, and a 2ft. tall trophy bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce. Their picture will also be featured on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway website and Cholula’s Facebook page. Love hot sauce? Head on over to their Facebook page and let them know you caught the Fan of the Day!
Today’s task of finding the Fan of the Day was an easy one. We had spotted Mark at the Macy’s autograph session at Castleton Mall on Friday evening and were more than pleased to see him at the Speedway. With his brilliantly hand-crafted Indy 500 hat, he was hard to miss and not only by us. The interview with Mark was constantly interrupted by fans asking questions about his hat and asking for pictures. I quickly learned that Mark designs and makes religious headdresses as a career and his Indy 500 hat was a fun project he decided to take on. We asked Mark for a few moments of his time, and got his answers to the questions below.
How many times have you attended the Indy 500?
His first Indy 500 race was around the age of 14. Since then Mark has been to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race six times, but he is always present at various May events. Mark said that he loves to attend all of the practice days and Carb Day is a personal favorite.
Which 100th anniversary event are you most looking forward to?
The numerous autograph sessions that are scheduled for the rest of May are what Mark has been looking forward to the most. He is also awaiting Community Day and of course Carb Day.
What makes the 100th anniversary special to you?
Mark started out by answering that it is just a neat experience to get to be a part of. Then he made a joke stating that it is actually also his 100th birthday and he just ages well. Clever answer, Mark. Very clever.
What’s one thing that always brings you back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
The people, the fans, the crowd. Mark loves the energy the fans create at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it brings him back every year.
Which current driver would you like to see win the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500?
Mark thinks it would be great for the sport if a female won this year’s running of the Indy 500. Simona, Pippa, Ana, Danica…seeing any of them win would be something Mark would like to see.
If you could choose any driver from the past to win this year’s Indy 500 who would it be? Why?
Without hesitation Mark answered with Johnny Rutherford. When Mark was younger, his parents worked for Rutherford and he has many fond memories from those years. He went on to talk about the summer picnics they all had and when he had worked for Smokey Yunick.
Favorite racing memory?
At the Macy’s autograph session Mark said that Tony Kanaan asked to have his picture taken with Superfan and Mark himself. Mark was honored and is still hoping to get that picture from TK…
In your opinion, which food is best with Cholula Hot Sauce?
Definitely Mexican food. Burritos are probably the best choice, said Mark.
With all apologies to Led Zeppelin, it’s been a long time since we’ve rocked and rolled at “Splash And Go.” There has been plenty of news since the North American season officially ended with the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale Nov. 21, so it would be a bit tedious to review all of that.
Let’s just pick up with the last week or so, shall we?
The IZOD IndyCar Series season ended two months ago, but it seems that no series in America has more mojo right now than Randy Bernard and Co. The good news keeps coming and coming, putting more than a decade’s worth of acrimony due to “The Split” deeper and deeper into the rear-view mirror.
Mazda joins the party!
The Road To Indy ladder system for INDYCAR, consisting of Firestone Indy Lights, Star Mazda and USF2000, received a major boost this week when Mazda announced its title sponsorship of the program. The Mazda Road to Indy will provide scholarships to the champion of all three developmental classes to jump to the next level the next season.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. There’s no other way to describe this, on so many levels. The scholarships provide a legitimate carrot for aspiring open-wheel racers at all levels, and the addition of another manufacturer bullish on the future of INDYCAR racing is fantastic.
Combine the Mazda Road to Indy with the recently announced program to grant a Firestone Indy Lights oval program to the USAC National Drivers Championship winner, and few — if any — sanctioning bodies in the world have such a clearly defined road to the pinnacle as INDYCAR.
Team Penske continued to add sponsors to its stable, as series sponsor IZOD came on board this week. IZOD will use Penske driver Ryan Briscoe as its new poster boy, and the best series sponsor in INDYCAR history — by about 1,000 miles — already is activating both its series sponsorship and support of Briscoe through new TV commercials filmed in the desert with a live soundtrack provided by rock band Weezer. No more racing to the party, I guess. I shed no tears.
The addition of IZOD continued a hell of a capitalistic run for Penske, which also snared Shell/Pennzoil as an Indianapolis 500 primary sponsor for three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, AAA of Southern California as a primary sponsor for Castroneves at Long Beach and Texas and Midwestern grocery store chain Meijer as an associate sponsor for all three of its cars.
Television ratings and attendance for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continue to drop, and the series heads this weekend to one of its few flops as a new race market, Los Angeles. Then again, Tinseltown is the worst pro sports market in America, so is anyone surprised?
But never fear, a solution to NASCAR’s woes is here, courtesy of Auto Club Speedway: THE HOFF.
David Hasselhoff, famous from “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch,” being booted after the first round of “Dancing With The Stars” and one of the most legendary videos ever on YouTube, is singing the national anthem before the Nationwide Series race Saturday at the track.
BOOM goes the dynamite! NASCAR’s problems are solved thanks to The Hoff. Remember, he’s huge in Germany.
The Nationwide race at California also will be significant because it will the first of six consecutive Nationwide races for Danica Patrick, with no IZOD IndyCar Series race commitments. The stretch will mark her first back-to-back races in the series since February and March.
Gentleman Jim has a point: Is anyone talking about the racing during this Chase? Well, maybe if the racing involves wrecking.
The racing Richter scale continues to chatter over the Carmageddon bump-and-runs between Chaser Kyle Busch and non-Chaser David Reutimann last weekend at Kansas. Rootie is unrepentant, and Kyle’s brother, Kurt Busch, has entered the fray by saying non-Chasers should keep their heads when racing around drivers participating in NASCAR’s postseason.
That’s fine, Kurt. But Chasers also should treat non-Chasers as more than speed bumps or bumper car crash-test dummies. Your little bro Rowdy never has received that message and probably never will.
Meanwhile, that Bearded Man of Mystery is back in the points lead heading to his home track, a place where he normally puts the boot into the behind of his rivals. Then again, if Jimmie wins this weekend at California and extends his points lead, fans will yelp that the Chase is boring, needs changing and is responsible for their shrinking 401K despite eight of the 12 Chase drivers being within 85 points of the lead entering this weekend.
It usually takes awhile for Silly Season to crank up in the IZOD IndyCar Series. But this year is different. Announcements and rumors — good and bad — are flying like Justin Bieber dolls will off shelves this Christmas shopping season.
First, the good. Simona De Silvestro may not have won the Rookie of Year title this year — Alex Lloyd did — but she easily was the most pleasant and talented surprise in the series in 2010. She’ll stay at HVM Racing for the 2011 season.
KV Racing Technology is helping a new team, SH Racing, field a one-car entry for the 2011 Indianapolis 500. No driver has been named, but a sponsor, REDLINE Extreme energy drink, is lined up.
Is it just me, or are energy drinks the new dot.com’s of the racing sponsorship world? Let’s hope the long-term viability of those fizzy, yellow drinks to pay the bills is better than the Internet firms that sprouted and disappeared like crabgrass about 10 years ago.
Two-time American Le Mans Series champions Highcroft Racing aim to run a limited IZOD IndyCar Series schedule in 2011, with an eye on a full-season ride for 2012. Highcroft and team owner Duncan Dayton are the real deal, so this team looks like a solid prospect for IndyCar in the future.
Now for the bad news, and it continues to swirl around one team – Andretti Autosport.
Just a few days after AA announced Tony Kanaan was free to look for a ride with another team because primary sponsor 7-Eleven wasn’t returning in 2011, Michael Andretti’s team announced it needs a primary sponsor for Ryan Hunter-Reay. Series sponsor IZOD picked up RHR’s tab in 2010. AA officials have indicated one company already has made an offer as a primary sponsor, so that’s a proverbial silver lining.
It should be one of the more active Silly Seasons in recent IndyCar memory. VERSUS IndyCar announcer Jack Arute offers his opinions on what might happen.
And speaking of silly, ’tis the season for a good highlight reel of IZOD IndyCar Series bloopers.
MotoGP continues its Asian tour this weekend with the Grand Prix of Malaysia. 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa will miss his second consecutive race with a broken collarbone suffered last weekend in practice at Motegi, so Jorge Lorenzo only needs to finish ninth or better to clinch his first World Championship.
Put the mortgage on it. Jorge’s worst finish this season is fourth, twice. He’s been on the podium at every other race.
One of those fourth-place finishes for Lorenzo came after an epic battle with Fiat Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi last weekend at Motegi. The Doctor and Jorge aren’t on each others’ Christmas card lists, and Rossi has no regrets about racing Lorenzo hammer and tongs over the final laps.
And why should he? Rossi may be a happy-go-lucky guy off the bike, but he’s an assassin on it. Plus that battle sent a clear message to Lorenzo: You don’t own me, kid.
Beating Lorenzo must have done wonders for Rossi’s ailing shoulder, as he’s leaning toward finishing the entire season with Yamaha instead of skipping the last two rounds, at Estoril, Portugal and Valencia, Spain, for shoulder surgery.
Then again, Rossi is a master of mind games. Maybe he’s just trying to butter up Yamaha to let him test his new Ducati ride for 2011 the day after the season finale at Valencia.
Rossi’s replacement for 2011 at Yamaha, American rookie phenom Ben Spies, did an interesting video interview with OnTheThrottle. Check it out in two parts here.
Formula One and its raging championship battle are back in action this weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, one of the world’s greatest tracks. But all eyes in F1 remain on Japan’s neighbor to the west, Korea, where the inaugural Korean Grand Prix remains in doubt for Oct. 22-24.
The final layer of asphalt is being paved for the race, and the FIA’s Charlie Whiting is supposed to inspect the circuit Monday. But even if the track passes muster, this race is a disaster in waiting. Come on: Just two weeks for the asphalt to cure?
Yet despite this joke of a race, F1 continues to look east to banana republics as proper spots for races while ignoring places with history, tradition and completed infrastructure like Imola, Magny-Cours and … Indianapolis. Thailand is the next target. At this rate, more than half of the races in the World Championship will take place in the Middle East or Asia, where dictators, despots and oil barons are more than willing to play Bernie Ecclestone’s financial parlor games.
Syracuse, N.Y., is a far distance from Thailand or Suzuka, and the Syracuse Mile doesn’t have the infrastructure of any of Bernie’s speed palaces. It doesn’t have a pavement problem, either, because there is no pavement.
But the Moody Mile is playing host again to one of the most balls-out racing events anywhere on Earth, Super DIRT Week. The SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 this Sunday is the showcase event, the Super Bowl for dirt modifieds. Much like the Knoxville Nationals for sprint cars, it’s roots racing at its hardest, purest and finest.
Make no doubt about it: This guy is the boss of IndyCar racing over the last 15 years. Robin Miller, who knows a thing or 100,000 about great drivers, thinks so. I don’t need as large of an abacus to count my racing knowledge as Robin, but I think so, too.
It also was a good night in South Florida for one Danica Patrick, who tied a season best by finishing second in the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300. It was a solid salvage job by America’s Princess of Speed, who ended the season in the top 10 with the strong result after an intense duel with Andretti Autosport teammate Tony Kanaan down the stretch laps of the race.
But there’s no rest for weary Danica, who probably would give some of her sizable endorsement income to approach a single-digit finish in her Grand NASCAR Nationwide Experiment of 2010, which continues full-bore now that the IndyCar season is done.
You had to feel for Will Power after the Homestead race. The laid-back Aussie dude was visibly oozing the pressure of the title chase last weekend at Homestead. I was there, and Will was uncharacteristically tense and even borderline snippy in a press conference Friday night after Franchitti won the pole, trimming one point from Power’s 12-point lead entering the event.
And the coil spring of Will’s psyche finally snapped when he brushed the wall trying to avoid lapped traffic in the race, ending his race and his championship hopes. Contrast that with Dario’s chilly nerves when avoiding the spinning, crashing car of rolling chicane Milka Duno later in the race.
Power lost the title by five points, but he gained a ton of respect and injected a heavy dose of fear into his rivals this season. As Danica said of Power in the post-race press conference: “He did a hell of a job this year. He kicked ass on the road courses, for sure.” That he did, winning the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Course Championship Trophy. And Power also improved quite a bit on ovals, even though that first win on roundy-rounds eludes him.
Prospects for a strong year also are looking up for Graham Rahal. He announced a big sponsorship deal for 2011-12 with TBC Retail Group, a major American tire and automotive retail company, on Saturday afternoon at Homestead. Whispers are getting louder than Graham is heading to a third Ganassi team in 2011. Was it any coincidence that a Ganassi executive was in the deadline room when the press conference took place Saturday at Homestead? Hmm …
IndyCar’s favorite bad boy, Paul Tracy, also is aiming for a strong full-season ride in 2011. PT is beating the bushes and says he’s close to having enough funding for next year. Let’s hope so. You never can get too much of The Thrill from West Hill.
While Graham is set and things are looking up for PT, there was a bit of bad news for Tony Kanaan and Andretti Autosport. 7-Eleven, TK’s longtime primary sponsor in the IZOD IndyCar Series, is returning only as an associate on Danica’s car next year. AA has given TK permission to look around the series for another ride.
Sorry, but I just can’t imagine TK at another team besides Andretti. He has been the one fixture — the pillar — of that outfit since it came to the series in 2003 as Andretti Green Racing. No one has worked harder, no one has driven harder and no one has kept the team more focused and unified than TK. To lapse into American sportscaster-speak, TK is the glue guy at Andretti. The team simply cannot afford to lose Kanaan, who immediately becomes the most coveted free agent in IndyCar.
The rousing battle between TK and Danica over the last 30 laps at Homestead wasn’t the only compelling bout last weekend between teammates who aren’t exactly best buddies. The heated rivalry between seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi and 2010 champion-elect Jorge Lorenzo finally boiled over at Motegi in a phenomenal, elbow-rubbing duel Sunday.
Seriously, the only difference between the scrap between Fiat Yamaha teammates Rossi and Lorenzo over the last three laps of the race and the classic old video game “Road Rash” was the lack of spiked balls and chains. This was as close to 180-mph two-wheeled combat as you’re going to see.
And Jorge was not happy with The Doctor after the race. As if Rossi cares. He knows Lorenzo and another rival, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner, hate him, and he doesn’t give a rat’s posterior. Ah, the beauty of psychological warfare. Vale is a master of it. Just ask Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi. The brilliant Julian Ryder offers his always spot-on analysis of the Battle of Motegi at Superbike Planet.
Lorenzo, who just signed a two-year contract renewal with Yamaha, will get a bit of revenge this weekend at Malaysia: He’ll likely clinch his first MotoGP World Championship. Lorenzo’s closest pursuer in the standings, 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa, almost certainly will miss his second consecutive race after suffering a broken collarbone in a crash during practice at Motegi.
Three-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup after finishing second behind Greg Biffle on Sunday at Kansas. But unlike MotoGP, it’s going to be awhile until this year’s champion is decided, as just 85 points separate eighth-place Biffle from points leader Johnson.
The tight points race should be a major topic of conversation heading into Tinseltown for the race this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California, but instead a typical NASCAR soap opera is devouring the headlines. Kyle Busch and David Reutimann traded sheet metal and post-race barbs after they clashed twice on track at Kansas. The intent of Busch’s contact was debatable; Reutimann’s was not. He wanted to take out Busch and succeeded, helping to drop Rowdy to a 21st-place finish.
And thus the filmy residue of NASCAR’s “boys, have at it” policy was left on this race like soap scum around the base of the bathtub. Is it really in NASCAR’s best interests to have a non-Chase driver intentionally trash the race of a Chase driver? Jeff Gluck plays attorney, judge and jury in this blog, and his point is solid: NASCAR’s hands-off policy only will encourage more Chase-altering melees like Sunday at Kansas.
Maybe that’s what NASCAR fans want. But don’t you think NASCAR Nation would react a bit differently, with fewer “That puke got what was coming to him” comments spewed toward Busch, if the object of Reutimann’s bumper was Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Yeah, so do I.
Say what you will about the 2010 Indianapolis 500, but the right man won. Anyone who disagrees with that either had too many pops while watching the race on TV or sat in the Easy-Bake Oven otherwise known as a broiling Race Day at IMS for far too long.
Sure, there were moments you wondered who was going to win the fuel game. Sure, there were times over the last two laps where you thought maybe, just maybe, Dan Wheldon might finally put Panther Racing into Victory Lane at Indy after two straight years of near-misses.
But the right man won. Dario Franchitti drank milk and caressed the Borg-Warner Trophy for the second time. He clearly deserved it.
How could anyone say otherwise? Dario led 155 of the 200 laps. He catapulted to the lead on Lap 1 from the outside of the front row, putting a boot to the throat of the rest of the field.
It was the most dominant winning performance at Indy since that Juan Pablo Montoya kid crushed the field in 2000 to lead 167 laps and win as a rookie, also in a Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Despite Dario’s dominance, there still were plenty of drivers and teams who put on strong performances Sunday at Indy inside and outside of the spotlight.
The first tip of the Lexan visor must go to Andretti Autosport. Like most after Bump Day, I thought this team was out to lunch, gorging on the all-you-can eat special at the Old Country Buffet. When Tony Kanaan stuffs two cars into the wall, problems are much deeper than simple driver error.
AA started none of its five drivers in the first five rows but put three drivers in the top 11 at the finish. That’s not a bounce-back; that’s an atomic super ball dropped on a driveway from your sister’s bedroom on the second floor. Ba-BOING!
Kanaan’s charge from shotgun on the field – 33rd for those keeping score at home – to second, challenging and taunting Franchitti until a late pit stop, was breathtaking. TK passed EIGHT cars on the first lap in one of the most stirring displays of driving skill since Tomas Scheckter sliced through seven cars in Turn 3 alone after a restart in 2004.
Marco Andretti also proved again that he is a victory waiting to happen some year at Indy with his strong third-place finish, and Danica Patrick made amends for throwing her team under the bus on Pole Day by singing deserved hosannas for the GoDaddy crew after great stops and smart strategy vaulted her to sixth at the finish on Race Day.
Ryan Hunter-Reay also was competitive during the race for AA, and he showed serious stones by driving the second half of the race with torn ligaments in his thumb. He also must have taped four-leaf clovers throughout his cockpit or ate a water tower-sized bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast on Race Morning after escaping without injury when Mike Conway’s destroyed car sailed overhead in the horrific accident on Lap 200.
Conway and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teammate Justin Wilson also were unsung heroes on Race Day. Sure, Mike and Justin led 15 and 11 laps, respectively, late in the race because they were on a different fuel strategy than Franchitti. But they didn’t look out of place, and three-time winner and 2010 pole sitter Helio Castroneves couldn’t catch Conway or Wilson while running third behind them on a similar fuel strategy.
D&R also was the only team to put four cars into the show on Pole Day. If you had told me that before Opening Day, I would have asked you for your bottle of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. D&R just might be the “best of the rest” in the IZOD IndyCar Series right now behind Team Penske, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport.
Panther Racing also had a very strong Race Day by finishing second for the third consecutive year, the second time in a row with Wheldon. Danny Boy really does turn it on for Indy. And Ed Carpenter proved again that he’s one of the best oval racers in the series, as he was headed for a strong finish for Panther before an ill-timed late caution forced him to drop to 17th at the finish.
But my MVT (Most Valuable Team) for the month was the FAZZT Race Team. Alex Tagliani was quick all month, qualified fifth after making the Fast Nine and finished 10th. Bruno Junqueira turned about six laps for the month before becoming the fastest qualifier on Bump Day with a speed that would have put him into the Fast Nine a day earlier.
FAZZT has nowhere near the resources of a Penske, Ganassi or Andretti. It punches WAY above its weight, like 147-pound Manny Pacquiao trading shots and standing upright against a prime, 220-pound Mike Tyson.
Still, when it comes to North American motorsports teams, nobody can stand up to the Penske and Ganassi organizations right now. They’re both major league ass kickers.
Chip Ganassi might be smug. He might be irascible. He might be a demanding SOB. But he wins – a lot. And that’s the goal of any race team. With the last two IZOD IndyCar Series titles, two of the last three Indianapolis 500 victories and a Daytona 500 victory in February, Ganassi is the reigning Red Baron of internal combustion right now in America.
Roger Penske also had a month to remember, winning the Indianapolis 500 pole for a record 16th time and seeing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch double up by winning the Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600.
Both Ganassi and Penske also have won major North American sports car championships in the last three seasons.
Seriously, name me two stronger racing organizations in the world – across a variety of disciplines – right now than Penske and Ganassi. You can’t.
•Formula One: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished 1-2 in the Grand Prix of Turkey on Sunday, which many people called yet another thrilling F1 race.
I call bull excrement.
This race was “exciting” only because drivers violated one of the cardinal rules of F1 – don’t race your teammate. Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel ran 1-2 when Vettel decided to – GASP! – pass his teammate for the lead. The two cars collided, knocking Vettel out of the race and Webber to third, where he finished.
And then Hamilton and Button had “confusion” about team orders – don’t kid yourself; team orders still occur in F1 despite regulations banning them – and ended up racing each other at the end, with Hamilton prevailing.
Sure, it may have looked good on TV. But the bleating by Steve Matchett of SPEED about Vettel making a critical mistake by not asking his team to tell the slower Webber to pull over illustrates exactly what’s wrong with F1.
Race drivers are paid to pass people. F1 drivers are paid millions of pounds, Euros or whatever to pass people. They NEVER should be forced to request from a team boss to pass someone, even if it’s their teammate.
Yes, this is another rant from me about the sad state of F1. And it’s not because I dislike the series or have a serious case of “Screw them furriners.” Au contraire. I love F1. But what disguises for excitement in the series these days is pathetic. Team orders and complaints about dirty air. Oh, joy.
At least there’s a MotoGP race this Sunday at Mugello to satisfy my proper international racing jones.
•Song of the Week: This week’s top tune is the obscure but cool “Faster” by the late, great George Harrison, who was a Formula One fanatic. There are two reasons why it came to mind immediately after Dario Franchitti’s victory Sunday at Indy. One, the video opens with a still shot of the great Jim Clark of Scotland, the 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner who is Franchitti’s racing hero. Plus it was an easy choice since Franchitti was just flat-out, ahem, faster than anyone else Sunday at Indy.
My adventures as an intern here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have continued to be nothing short of amazing. Working here has allowed me to develop an even greater appreciation for the sport of racing, especially the IZOD IndyCar Series. Entering the historical statistics has allowed me to learn a lot of history about the series as well as the Firestone Indy Lights. The names and faces of the legends of the league fill my mind and my computer screen daily. I have grown fond of particular drivers and was especially nervous before Tony Kanaan’s final qualification attempt on Pole Day (I’m sure I was not the only one).
I have continued to soak in all that I can of the best summer job a 19 year old could ask for. The greatness of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway never ends and I keep finding more and more out that continues to excite me. If you are one of those who lives by the motto “Indiana is a boring Midwest state”,which I am guilty of, then come out for a day at IMS and your opinion will be changed.
The historical statistics project has almost been completed and when I am finished entry lists and point standings for all past IndyCar and Indy Lights races will be available on indycar.com. Photo tagging has kept me especially busy due to all the events that have recently taken place at IMS.
The real perks of the job have continued and when I found out I would be able to attend the IZOD Race to the Party celebrity event on Saturday evening I immediately volunteered. Yes, my main job would be to tag and caption photos of the celebrities but I would have a pass into the majority of the parties and would definitely get to spend time in the company of stars such as Kim Kardashian and Jewel. Vanity Fair and GQ were throwing the parties in downtown Indy. Though the Vanity Fair party was very exclusive and a challenge to gain access to, the GQ party was easier to navigate. I spent time in the VIP room and was able to have a great look at the real happenings of a celeb party. The DJ’s and bands were great, the atmosphere was fantastic, and the experience was unforgettable.
The night was great and I got to have some free time to enjoy the parties. Our photographers captured some great pictures and they are posted on indycar.com and indianapolismotorspeedway.com as well as our Flickr site. It was definitely a memorable experience and showed me that attending these kind of events and documenting them is exactly what I want to do, and journalism can lead me in that direction.
I hope you enjoyed all the Fan of the Day posts and all your time spent at IMS this May. Until my next post keep commenting, tweeting, and Facebook stalking us!
Bump Day has already proved to be a day full of twists and turns, especially for Tony Kanaan fans. The 80+ degree weather has caused most fans to seek shade. Our new fan of the day was neither in the shade nor a Tony Kanaan fan. She was waiting in Gasoline Alley to receive an autograph from her favorite driver, Scott Dixon. She was waiting patiently along with a picture she wanted Dixon to sign. Our Bump Day fan of the day is Stephanie Thomas…
Fan of the Day - Stephanie Thomas
When was your first Indy 500?
Stephanie’s first time to attend an Indianapolis 500 race was in 2008. 2008 was also the year Scott Dixon won.
Who is your favorite driver and why?
It was obvious that Scott Dixon is Stephanie’s favorite driver. She explained that she attended the victory banquet following Dixon’s ’08 win and that he was a very sincere and personable person. She also respects his racing talent and explained that he is very consistent and “always gets the job done”.
What is your favorite Indy 500 memory?
Without a doubt Stephanie’s favorite memory of the Indianapolis 500 is Scott Dixon’s win in 2008. Then she thought about her answer and decided it was his 2010 win that was her favorite memory. She is a confident fan!
How should the Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 next year?
Stephanie thinks the new qualifying system is something that should stay in place for next year’s 100th anniversary. She would love to have more days that allow fans without garage passes to get autographs and pictures with drivers.
Fast Friday has arrived and fans are enjoying the last practice before pole day. The weather has been quite generous and held off for the sake of the drivers and the fans. Vendors have begun to move into the speedway in anticipation for the coming week. Live music plays daily and the excitement continues to build as the month of May continues. It was also time to find the new fan of the day. Gasoline Alley is a popular place to be as a fan. Meeting a driver or getting an autograph is bound to happen in Gasoline Alley, which is where we found our next fan of the day. Amy Dyer was hard to miss in her brand-spankin’-new Danica Patrick gear and it was easy to see she was a true supporter. We chose Amy as our fan of the day…
Fan of the Day - Amy Dyer
When was your first Indy 500?
Amy has always been an Indy 500 fan usually watching from her television or listening from her radio at home. This year will be her first year to actually attend the race. She was also at the track last Sunday and had to return today. “It’s so addicting”, said Amy.
Who is your favorite driver and why?
It was obvious from Amy’s attire that Danica Patrick is her favorite driver. She enjoys watching all the female drivers though, she has to support the girls she adds. Amy is also a fan of Tony Kanaan, she just enjoys watching him she said.
What is your favorite Indy 500 memory?
As mentioned before, Amy has never actually attended an Indianapolis 500 race but in the past she has listened to the race via radio. She always remembers being outside on a nice May day with the sounds and the voices of the race coming from the radio speakers.
How should the Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 next year?
A contest or a prize drawing among fans to become the driver of next year’s pace car is something Amy would like to see as a part of the 100th anniversary next year.