He won the Indy Racing League’s first race in 1996 at Walt Disney World when he held off Tony Stewart. It was the first IndyCar race for both, and there aren’t that many drivers out there who can say they beat “Smoke” in a competitive scenario on a racetrack.
“It was one of those days when everything was pretty much good all day.” Calkins said. “My engine was overheating, but we overcame that.”
Calkins always looked toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he made six starts, led four laps and had a best finish of 10th in 1998 for his family-owned Bradley Motorsports team.
“When I went there for the first time in 1987, when I walked into the place, I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Calkins said. “My dad bought me a go-kart when I was 14 years old, it started going well, and the rest is history. When I started out, it was my ambition to race in the Indianapolis 500.”
Calkins was always popular with the fans and those in the paddock.
At Indy for his first race there in 1996, he was talking to an INDYCAR official just outside the garage area, and the official suggested he go out to pit road and sign a few autographs.
“That’s where I’ve been for the last two hours,” he said with a smile.
After the duel with Stewart at Walt Disney World, Calkins asked public relations rep Jim Dinsmore if he and Tony had anything in common, that he’d like to get to know him better. Dinsmore knew both played pool, and the result was a charity 8-ball game at a casino in Las Vegas.
“That’s the thing I liked the most was the people,” Calkins said. “You guys, officials, mechanics, drivers. That’s something I’ll always look back on. I miss the people as much as anything.”
Calkins, from Denver, shared the first Indy Racing League season title with Scott Sharp. But he treasures the experience at Indy.
“I don’t think anything compares to it,” he said. “I don’t think anything compares to the first five laps and all the people who come out for it. I don’t think you can prepare yourself for it. It’s hectic, and I can’t think of too many things in life that can top it.”
He’s “retired” now although he said he runs a charity race every once in a while. Instead, Calkins has gone from the track to the boardroom and family life.
“I got married and have three girls,” he said. “Bradley is 8, Marin is 6, and Harper is 3.” Two years ago, he was named president of Bradley Petroleum, a 100-year-old family-owned company.
“I won’t wear ties, but I wear a lot of different hats,” Calkins said. “When there’s a need someplace, I’m in it. I’m pretty much running the gas business, and we just signed a deal to build 12 Dunkin’ Donuts facilities in the next five years. That and real estate. It’s challenging and interesting.
“Between family and work, I don’t have time for anything else. I try to come back every year for the race. I’ve thought about (being a car owner), but with time constraints and I’d want to do it right.
Sunday 4:30 PM – The 2011 Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records has come to a close – and the conclusion was an unforgettable one for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard and his father John Menard. John Menard is no stranger to the IMS oval with his history in IndyCar racing. He has spent time and money on racing at this track and today his hard work paid off when he saw his son cross over the yard of bricks and win the Brickyard 400. A big congratulations goes out to Paul for his win today, and for this being his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win.
This weekend had something for everyone – and next year’s Brickyard will include even more excitement. So start counting down to the 2012 Super Weekend. 364 days to go…. – Cassie
Paul Menard celebrates his win
Sunday 3:45 PM - We’re 123 laps into the 160 lap Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records. Brad Keselowski is currently in the lead as the cars circulate under caution after a small incident on the back stretch. Jeff Burton, Juan Pabolo Montoya, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson round out the top 5. We stepped out of the nice cool media center to hit the beach… The Brickyard Beach Bash that is.
Fans enjoy the Brickyard Beach Bash
If you’re looking for a place to cool off the Beach Bash is the spot. There’s pools, cool zones, beach volleyball, a bar, and the best part… LIVE MUSIC. There’s been a DJ running all morning with dance competitions and as we speak Iyaz is on stage performing for the crowd. If you’ve been to the Snake Pit before this is our NASCAR version of the famed turn 3 party. Believe me when I say, it’s a sight to be seen! -Brian
Speedway native, diehard IMS follower, and Dale Jr fan... Johnny gives the fans a taste of his dance moves.
Sunday 1:45 PM – The 2011 Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records is off and running. Kasey Kahne is currently out and front and looking strong (obviously, he’s my pick). Gordon, Ragan, Kenseth, and Allmendinger round out the top 5. It’s a beautiful day, hot, and perfect for racing. It should be a great race as the heat will have the cars slipping and sliding all over the place. Who’s your early pick for victory? What about leader at half distance? – Brian
Sunday 12:30 PM - Emily and I were lucky enough to spend the morning backstage at the Big Machine Records performances. We were up close and personal with Thomas Rhett, The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, and Justin Moore. It was an unforgettable experience! The fans loved every minute of the concerts and we got to capture some great pictures that you can find in our Flickr photostream. As soon as Justin Moore concluded the concerts on the Brickfest stage, Rascal Flatts began to rock out on the front straight. Fans who had pre-race pit passes got an awesome 3 song set from Rascal Flatts.
We’re now awaiting Reba McEntire’s performance. The stands are filling up and the waving of the green flag will happen before we know it!
Rascal Flatts on the Brickyard 400 stage
Sunday 11:28 AM – Cars are lined up on pit row. Tires are laid out. The pit stalls are ready. The green flag is inching closer. Who is your pick to kiss the bricks today? We want to know. – Daniel
Sunday 9:28 AM – NASCAR is hosting a tweetup at 10am on the Turn 2 side of the Hall of Fame museum. We’re headed that way. So is Big Machine Records. How about you Tweeps? – Daniel
Sunday 8:20 AM – It’s starting to heat up – and there’s more hustle and bustle. Fans are rolling in and the teams are starting to fill pit lane. Big Machine Records and their star studded line up of Rascal Flatts, Reba, The Band Perry and more, will get started at 9am. Cassie and Emily will be on hand to send out tweets, grab pics and report back later in the blog. In the meantime, put on some sunscreen and head this way. It’s going to be a great day of racing and music. – Daniel
We're here early
Sunday 6:05 AM – It’s 6 AM and the 2011 Brickyard 400 is off with a bang, literally. Just a few hours until some of the biggest names in country music take the stage at IMS. Big Machine Records has provided a fantastic line up including The Band Perry, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts, and the legendary Reba McEntire.
A salute to US troops and the Brickyard Beach Bash are other great activities planned for today. The green flag will be waved at 1 PM and one lucky driver will be given the opportunity to kiss the bricks. We’ll be blogging through all the action, so be sure to keep checking back! – Cassie
The Pagoda at IMS
Saturday 6:15 PM - The 1st annual Brickfest was a hit – autograph sessions, an exciting round of qualifications, and a great concert by Hinder made the day quite a success. We headed out into the crowd of singing, dancing Hinder fans and searched for our Fan of the Day.
Alissa was decked out in Jimmie Johnson gear with her husband by her side dressed in Dale Jr gear and their son head to toe in Jeff Gordon attire. Alissa told us she waited in line for about an hour to get her wristband to get Jimmie’s autograph at the largest Sprint Cup autograph session of 2011. It seemed to be well worth the wait! She said the autograph session was what she was most looking forward to because she had never gotten an autograph. Alissa and her husband have attended the Brickyard 400 every year since 1998 and plan to attend next year’s Super Weekend.
Saturday 5:45 PM – Qualifying has ended and the driver wheeling the car with the paint scheme commemorating our Grand Marshal, Ned Jarrett, is on pole. David Ragan set the fastest lap in qualifying with a lap speed of 182.994. My choice for pole position, Kasey Kahne was just behind him in second place.
David Ragan 2011 Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records Pole Sitter
Here’s the top 10 after qualifying:
1.) David Ragan
2.) Kasey Kahne
3.) Jimmie Johnson
4.) Kurt Busch
5.) Brad Keselowski
6.) AJ Allmendinger
7.) Juan Pablo Montoya
8.) Jeff Gordon
9.) Matt Kenseth
10.) Carl Edwards
We’re off to the Hinder concert! – Brian
Saturday 3:25 PM – We caught up with Hope Solo and showed her around pit lane and Gasoline Alley. She got to rub elbows with lots of NASCAR and soccer fans, as well as meet Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, 2nd place finisher JR Hildebrand, and NASCAR driver David Ragan. Hope talked about how excited she is to drive the pace car, driving over 100mph around IMS, being at such an amazing facility and how overwhelmingly friendly everyone has been. She’s still walking around soaking in all the excitement. – Daniel
JR Hildebrand and Hope Solo
Saturday 2:00 PM – We stepped out just a few minutes ago to check out the MASSIVE autograph session taking place in the chalet’s behind the pagoda. Today’s autograph session is actually the largest session in the NASCAR Sprint Cup this season. Drivers like Trevor Bayne, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon were all present for the second half of today’s two part autograph session.
Trevor Bayne at the autograph session.
After strolling through the session it was pretty obvious why fans were sprinting through the gates this morning to get in line for the wristband distribution. It’s not too often to get to experience these drivers in a face to face atmosphere, especially this many! It certainly was a rare experience and I’m sure many fans won’t forget anytime soon. – B
Saturday 11:30 AM – The practice session has concluded, and we took the time to check out the view from Club 94. Club 94 is ticket holders that have had tickets since the innagural Brickyard 400 – in 1994. Club 94 is located on the front straight, so it’s pretty much front row seats to all the NASCAR action all weekend long. Not to mention the food and shade from this crazy July heat. – Cassie
Outside of Club 94
Saturday 10:06 AM – Practice is underway at the Brickyard. In other news, US Women’s National Soccer Team Goalie, Hope Solo will be driving tomorrow’s 2011 Chevrolet Corvette. We already know she has good reflexes. – Daniel
Saturday 9:14 AM – Another good morning. We’re ready for a massive day at the Brickyard for Brickfest. Autograph Sessions. NASCAR Qualifying. Club 94. Kids Club activities. An open Hall of Fame Museum. Hinder in concert. And it’s only Saturday. It’s also going to be a hot one – so stay hydrated and well fed. Speaking of which, Cassie and I started our day off with a breakfast sandwich. It’s no breakfast burrito, but it got the job done. What are you eating today? Daniel
Saturday 6:45 AM – Good morning! It’s a bit damp here this morning after the late night showers we had here in Indy but the trucks are already out on the track doing laps in order to dry the track. Today’s a big day, it’s the 1st Annual Brickfest! We’re all looking forward to all the live music, autograph sessions, and obviously on-track activity.
An early morning at IMS
There’s been quite a bit of debate here in the media center as to who will take the pole for the Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records but I’m going to go with Kasey Kahne. It’d be a big story if the week after his spectacular shunt in a World of Outlaws car he took the pole.
Who do you think will be sitting on top of the timing charts this afternoon? -Brian
Friday 5:55 PM - It’s the end of the day and we’re glad the weather held out. Tomorrow’s a big day – autograph session, qualifying with lots of track time and the Hinder concert. The Daily Trackside Report is available now, if you want a good dose of track facts and quotes. And below, we’ve got a slideshow of over 200 images from the Brickyard 400 so far. Have a great night. See you tomorrow? – Daniel
Friday 5:33 PM – It was another hot day, but it seemed much more bearable than yesterday. As practice ended, fans gathered around Gasoline Alley and Thunder Alley to cheer and jeer their favorite teams and drivers. It made me realize how loyal NASCAR fans are. Who’s your favorite driver? – Daniel
The Gasoline Alley sign
Friday 5:00 PM – The final practice session has ended concluding track activity for the day (other than the Richard Petty Driving Experience). This session had a bit more activity as one of the cars had an engine let go. After a yellow flag to clean up the track, we were back to green flag conditions and the practice ended with no other events.
Jeff Gordon on track
The final top 10 ended up like this:
1.) Greg Biffle
2.) Martin Truex Jr
3.) Jimmie Johnson
4.) Casey Mears
5.) Kevin Harvick
6.) Carl Edwards
7.) Joey Logano
8.) David Reutimann
9.) Jeff Burton
10.) Brian Vickers
Tomorrow’s a big day here at IMS. We’ve got live music all day (including Hinder!), the NASCAR Sprint Cup largest autograph session, Q&A sessions, and of course qualifying. We’ll also have an exclusive behind-the-scenes sneak peak from inside the IMS Hall of Fame museum.
We’ll be here through it all, make sure you follow along. – Brian
Friday 3:45 PM – After the first practice session concluded we headed out towards Turn 3 for the vintage car show that will be going on all weekend, and it was impressive! If you’re coming to the track this weekend, make sure to head over and check it out.
Then it was time to find the Fan of the Day! True fans hang out by the garages and that’s exactly where we found Derek. He was wearing his Jeff Gordon hat, and surrounded by his family of Tony Stewart fans. I asked him why his favorite driver is Jeff Gordon and his little sister answered for him – “because he isn’t our favorite” meaning herself and their parents. This is Derek’s 3rd year in a row at the Brickyard 400 and he can’t wait to see Jeff Gordon win this weekend!
Derek & his family
Practice session #2 is almost over and at 5 the Richard Petty Driving Experience is taking over the IMS oval. Keep checking back to stay up-to-date on all of the Brickyard happenings. – Cassie
Friday 2:15 PM – The first practice for the 2011 Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records has just concluded. No major event to speak of as it was a caution free session. Matt Kenseth was the fastest of the session… followed by Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, and Jeff Burton.
Kasey Kahne crosses the yard of bricks
The next session starts at 3:15 PM ET. We’re heading out to go find our next Fan of the Day. So if you see us drive by be sure to scream and shout, we just might pick you! -Brian
Friday 11:30 AM – About an hour and a half ago, the 2011 Brickyard 400 pace car was unveiled. Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Jamie McMurray had the honor of taking the cover off of the Chevrolet Corvette. This is the 18th year in a row a Chevy has been featured as the Brickyard 400 pace car, in other words, a Chevy has always paced the Brickyard 400.
The driver of this year’s pace car is Hope Solo, the goalie of the US women’s soccer team. Racing, soccer, music, autographs – what more could you ask for in one weekend?- Cassie
Jeff Belskus, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, A lucky fan!, Jeff Chew, and Jimmie Johnson with the 2011 Pace Car
Friday 11:00 AM – I was lucky enough to climb onboard one of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro pace cars and go for a spin around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Any fan who was at IMS today and took a Chevrolet test-drive in the Chevy Experience area was granted a hot lap in a Camaro or Corvette. There aren’t very many feelings in this world like coming off turn 4 at IMS and heading down the front straight.
Heading down the front stretch at IMS
In the early morning the front stretch is similar to a long dark tunnel with the light at the end being turn 1. Roaring past the Pagoda at over 120 mph is an experience every diehard race fan should have. -Brian
Friday 8:45 AM - Good morning! The track is officially open and the 2011 Brickyard 400 presented by Big Machine Records has begun. It’s Chevy Day and tons of exciting event are planned for today. People were seen sprinting through the gates this morning in order to get in line for the autograph session wristband give away. Vintage cars are rolling through the gates and concession stands are providing the fans with coffee and breakfast sandwiches.
Happy Friday morning from IMS!
There are TONS of things going on here today. There’s a vintage car show running the entirety of the day, autograph sessions, pace car rides and, of course, Sprint Cup practice. We’ll also have some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos coming from an event at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. Stay tuned all day! -Brian
9:00 PM- The Hauler Parade was the perfect way to kick off Brickyard 400 weekend! The event was definitely successful, but we can’t say the same about our pit stop competition team. We lost first round, but it was a great time! NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Ned Jarrett & David Ragan arrived and answered questions from fans to make the evening even more exciting.
We headed home early to rest up for another day of NASCAR action tomorrow, but the Hauler Parade will continue until around 11 PM. So if you haven’t yet, head to Main Street for some great Thursday night entertainment! – Cassie
Pit Stop Competition in Full Swing!
6:10 PM - Not gonna lie. It’s a hot one, but there are tons of fans on Main Street. And now they are joined by tons of NASCAR Haulers. The band is still playing and there a lots of refreshments, so it’s worth it. Up next? The pit stop challenge! Daniel
Up in the grill
5:10 PM - Headed to the Hauler Parade! We’re competing in the pit stop competition and everything! Head to Main St and join in on the fun and check back here later for full Hauler Parade details! -Cassie
3:40 PM - It’s hot here today and when I say hot, I mean that kind of hot where it feels like your eyes are sweating. Disregarding the heat, my colleague Cassie and I ventured out of the media center here at IMS with the goal of finding our first 2011 Brickyard 400 Fan of the Day. The grounds are mostly filled with workers diligently building stages, kiosks, and fan entertainment zones but we stumbled across this IMS first-timer at the Hall of Fame Museum.
Brickyard 400 Fan of the Day - Tony from Manchester, England
Tony is from Manchester, England and this weekend is his first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A self-confessed Formula 1 fan, Tony is pulling for his namesake in the 2011 Brickyard 400, Tony Stewart. His favorite racing moment was Lewis Hamilton’s first win in Formula 1, obviously a big moment for all natives of England. When asked which event he’d be most excited to see in 2012 at the newly announced Super Weekend, Tony was eager to return for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
We’ll be looking for fans of the day all weekend. So keep your eyes peeled for Cassie, myself and our camera! -Brian
12:45 PM -2012 is already looking very different with a new Super Weekend at The Brickyard. Today the IMS announced that Crown Royal will become the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, July 29, 2012 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The announcement was even followed by a whisky tasting. So we’re off to a great start to this weekend – Daniel.
Crown Royal and the Bricks - coming in 2012
Set-Up Day at the Brickyard
10:45 AM – The 2011 Brickyard 400 has arrived and IMS is making final preparations. We’re all set up in the media center and awaiting the exciting activities! We’ll be covering everything from crazy fans to food being made in the drivers’ garages. At about 11:30 AM today, a HUGE announcement regarding next year’s Brickyard 400 will take place! We’ll be covering it, so check back later to get full details.
If you’re sitting at home wishing you could be here then open this link: Brickyard Tickets and purchase your weekend tickets! Concerts, autograph sessions and great NASCAR racing will be lighting up the Speedway, you don’t want to miss out! Follow us on Twitter (@IMS) and “like” our Facebook page to stay up-to-date all weekend as well! – Cassie
Build Your Own Brickyard Experience is an interactive fan website that allows you to learn more about Brickyard experiences, choose how you would build your own experience, and then share what your Brickyard 400 experience looks like with friends and family. This blog series follows Brickyard 400 fans and their experience and tips for attending a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Are you a young professional? Read on to find out Annie’s tips for attending the Brickyard 400:
Tell us about yourself, your family, your friends, are you from Indianapolis?
My name is Annie. I am 25 years old. I have 2 wonderful parents whom I love spending time with. I am an only child but consider my close friends as family. I am from the north side of Indianapolis.
How long have you been attending the Brickyard 400? Do you attend any other events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
I have attended the Brickyard for about 15 years. My family and I also attend the Indianapolis 500 every year.
What is your favorite part about coming out the Brickyard 400?
My favorite part about the 400 is the fact that I get to step foot inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I love the feel and sense of history I get every time I go under the tunnel entrance.
Annie and her dad at the 2009 Brickyard 400
What makes the Brickyard special and different from other NASCAR races?
What makes the 400 different is that this race is run at the most prestigious race track in the world. History was and still is made at the Speedway every year, every race. Any race event you attend at the Speedway, is witnessing history.
What are your “insider” tips for someone attending the race for the first time?
Expect the unexpected. You will see, hear, and smell some odd things, but you MUST make the walk down Georgetown and through the Coke Lot. Embrace the moment.
Share your favorite Brickyard memory and race moment:
My favorite Brickyard moment was when Tony Stewart won the race in 2007. My parents and I are Tony Stewart fans. We sat in a crowd of NON Smoke fans. One gentleman behind me had a story about how Tony “stole” his fiance. They were joking with us throughout most of the race but we kept cheering for Tony every lap he ran. Once he captured the checkers, my parents and I let out a huge sigh. We screamed and cheered so loud when he climbed the fence. On Tony’s victory lap, he decided the grab the microphone and thanked all of his fans for sticking by him and supporting him. It felt good to have “my” driver win and thank me for supporting him. After the crowd let out, my parents and I made that memorable walk down Georgetown, wearing our #20 Home Depot Tony Stewart shirts proudly.
2007 Brickyard 400 Winner Tony Stewart poses on the Yard of Bricks
Ready to Build Your Own Brickyard Experience? Start by checking out what a Young Professional’s experience might look like by clicking here!
Many people believe that during the period between the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 and the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, Speedway was host to only one race a year. Although this may be true for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it is not true for the Town of Speedway. From 1946 until 1959, races were held at the 16th Street Speedway which was located on the south side of 16th Street directly across from the second turn of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The track was a quarter-mile paved oval that was best known for its midget racing. For many years, the biggest event at the track was the annual night before the 500 midget race. Many of the Indy 500 stars of that era raced at 16th Street Speedway. The list of winners at the 16th Street Speedway midget races includes Indy 500 veterans like Duane Carter (winner of the first midget race at the track on May 29, 1946), Johnnie Parsons, Gene Hartley, Mike Nazaruk, Manuel Ayulo, Johnny McDowell, Johnnie Tolan, Art Cross, Shorty Templeman, Eddie Sachs, and Len Sutton. The track closed down in 1959 and was torn down to make room for a shopping center.
Poster promoting the 16th Street Speedway
1952 Program from the 16th Street Speedway
There was a second 16th Street Speedway that operated from 1997 through 1999, but it was located a few miles outside of Speedway’s town borders. Similar to the original 16th Street Speedway it was a quarter mile oval, but the new track had a dirt surface. The track was built inside of Bush Stadium, the former home field for the Indianapolis Indians minor league baseball team. Although a number of different series competed at the track, similar to the original 16th Street Speedway the main draw was the midget series. The list of participants at the track includes a number of drivers who have also raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Tony Stewart, Ed Carpenter, Billy Boat, Jack Hewitt, Jason Leffler, Robbie Buhl, Mel Kenyon, Donnie Beechler, Rick Treadway, Johnny Parsons, Jr., Andy Michner, Bruce Walkup and Jay Drake.
Tony Stewart races at the 16th Street Speedway in 1998
Even though the Town of Speedway has been home to only one track since 1959, there are more than 15 short tracks within an hour and a half of central Indiana that feature open-wheel racing. This includes tracks in Bloomington, Clermont, Gas City, Terre Haute, Anderson (home of the Little 500 Sprint Car race the night before the Indy 500), Winchester, Salem, Kokomo, Lawrenceburg, Putnamville, Paragon, and North Vernon. As visitors make their plans for the Indy 500, the Brickyard 400 or the Redbull Indianapolis GP, they should consider making a trip to one of the short tracks in central Indiana to experience grass-roots racing at its best.
Ed Carpenter races at the 16th Street Speedway in June 1999
The first race where I was a credentialed photographer was at the 16th Street Speedway in 1997. During that event, I shot the picture below of Johnny Heydenreich when he had a vicious accident during qualifying. Shooting at the track that day and this photograph in particular would prove to be the first of many steps that eventually resulted in me becoming a member of the IMS Photo Staff in 2002.
Johnny Heydenreich races at the 16h Street Speedway in August 1997
Some of the historic Indy 500 machinery on display at IMIS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a vibrant, visible presence this week at the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) in Indianapolis, one of the largest, most prestigious racing trade shows in the United States.
IMIS has strong Indiana ties. The show was founded by Indiana residents Chris Paulsen, owner of Indianapolis-based equipment manufacturer and supplier C&R Racing; Tom Weisenbach, executive director of the Indiana Motorsports Association (IMA); Jeff Stoops, president of Stoops Freightliner; and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, also a two-time winner of the Brickyard 400.
This is a hardcore racing show with global appeal. It’s based in Indiana. It’s organized and run by Hoosiers. So it’s a perfect fit for IMS.
Cars from all eras of the "500" are on display at IMIS
The large IMS display at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis included 10 classic Indianapolis 500 cars. IMS staff and the IMS Street Team promoted the popular Grounds Tour of IMS and the three Speedway events in 2011 — the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, the Brickyard 400 on July 31 and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 28 — by distributing collateral material and just good, old-fashioned handshakes, smiles and conversations all three days of the Dec. 1-3 show.
Impressive variety of Indy 500 machinery on display at IMIS
Another popular piece of collateral distributed by IMS was a poster of the 33 Indy 500-winning cars lined up earlier this fall on the main straightaway at the Speedway, also promoting the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 in 2011. A few Indy 500 veterans stopped by to say hello, including Tyce Carlson and PJ Jones.
IMS was one of 579 racing companies that purchased 1,145 booths for the three-day, sold-out trade show. IMIS offers individuals and companies from all facets of the racing industry the chance to interact, share ideas and products, build relationships and attend seminars to improve motorsports business around the world.
For more photos of the IMS presence at IMIS, click here.
The plunge off the ratings’ cliff is odd, because the racing has been very good this entire season, including the Chase. Even Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR’s generic prescription for Ambien, put on a very competitive race two weeks ago.
If you’ve tuned out the Chase on The Worldwide Leader in Sports this fall, you still should tune into ESPN tonight for what promises to be a fascinating 60 minutes of NASCAR programming. ESPN’s superb series of short documentaries, “30 For 30,” looks back at the life, legend and truths of Tim Richmond in “Tim Richmond: To The Limit” at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN and 11 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
The Last Rock and Roll Star: Tim Richmond
Richmond has sadly faded into the vanishing point of the rear-view mirror of NASCAR. This guy was an incredible force of nature and an incredible talent in Winston Cup racing during the 80s. He raced, partied and lived harder than most of the corporate automatons disguised as drivers today probably could ever dream. Imagine Kyle Busch’s speed and carefree talent mixed with the rock-star magnetism and lifestyle of Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones or Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and you had Tim Richmond.
Much like James Hunt in F1, the number of Richmond’s laps led and ladies bedded ran side-by-side. But he had tremendous skill and huge attachments behind the wheel of a stock car and appeared headed to the high altitude of the legends of the sport before he contracted AIDS and died in 1989.
Want to see Richmond’s otherworldly talent encapsulated in one short video? Watch this below. Richmond is swallowing the field whole on a restart at North Wilkesboro while continuing to talk from his car with ESPN commentators in the booth after the green flag:
Due to his illness and the misconceptions associated with it, Richmond never has received his due from either NASCAR or its flag-waving, God-fearing fan base. Hopefully this documentary will help those who have forgotten or never knew about Richmond realize he was a rare supernova.
Watch this show tonight. Richmond is exactly the kind of character that corporate sponsors in 2010 never would bless even though racing needs talented showmen like him more than ever.
Back to racing 2010. It’s a quiet day in worldwide motorsport — a rarity during the season. But there’s still some news to chew on.
Is it a winner's trophy from Dover or Carl Edwards in a rage?
Jimmie Johnson is giving new meaning to the words embossed on the passenger-side mirrors on vehicles: OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. Johnson climbed to second place in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, just 35 points behind leader Denny Hamlin, after his victory from the pole in the AAA 400 last Sunday at Dover.
But does anyone think Johnson isn’t the favorite to win his fifth straight title after this victory? Raise your hand. I think I see one or two brave palms in the back of the room.
One of those hands belongs to Dustin Long, who thinks the Chase starts this weekend at Kansas. Sorry, Dustin, I disagree, because last weekend at Dover was a microcosm of why Johnson and the entire No. 48 team are the best and won’t be topped.
Johnson won from the pole and led the most laps in the race. Meanwhile, points leader Hamlin engaged in a war of words with fellow Chaser Clint Bowyer over NASCAR’s penalties for Bowyer’s illegal car that he drove to victory lane Sept. 19 in the Chase opener at New Hampshire.
Then Bowyer’s teammate, Kevin Harvick, defended the honor of Richard Childress Racing by bumping and sideswiping Hamlin in practice, which led to a shouting match in the garage between Harvick and Hamlin.
It was good theater and the kind of soap opera that NASCAR breeds every other week. Call it what you want, but it’s entertaining.
So the list of focused Chase drivers was down to nine before the race even started Sunday. Not a great strategy for trying to topple Johnson and Co. And a few of the Chasers had lousy races. Matt Kenseth finished 18th, Greg Biffle 19th and Tony Stewart 21st. Biffle is 140 points behind Hamlin, Stewart 162 and Kenseth 165.
Hamlin showed Friday that he doesn’t have the focus or maturity yet to lead a championship team when he spouted off about Bowyer’s penalties, which led to Harvick’s road rage during practice. Kyle Busch is third in points, just 45 behind Hamlin. But Rowdy’s mind is more erratic than Hamlin’s. Plus he still insists on running Nationwide and Truck races on event weekends, and I don’t care what anyone says: That distracts from and dilutes a Chase-winning effort.
Don’t believe me? How many Nationwide or Truck races has Johnson run down the Chase stretch in the last four seasons? You can probably count them on one hand.
The countdown is on for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 this Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, after which either points leader Will Power or Dario Franchitti will be crowned the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series champion. Power leads Franchitti by just 12 points.
It’s pretty safe to say these cats are ready for Saturday night at Homestead. It should be a hell of a duel to the finish, but dramatic title races decided at the season finale are nothing new for the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The Firestone Indy Lights season ends Saturday at Homestead, with the name of rookie J.K. Vernay all but engraved on the championship trophy. Vernay leads second place James Hinchcliffe by 48 points and only needs to start the 100-mile race to win the title.
While there’s not much air in the title chase balloon for Lights this Saturday in South Florida, it will be nice to see Lights veterans Ana Beatriz and Sebastian Saavedra step up to the IZOD IndyCar Series in the big show Saturday night for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Conquest Racing, respectively.
It was all quiet on the MotoGP front last weekend, as the series is heading to Motegi for the Grand Prix of Japan this weekend. That race was postponed earlier this season when the Icelandic volcano forced the disruption of travel throughout Europe. Thanks to old Smoky Top, MotoGP now has three races in three consecutive weeks. Hell for the riders and teams, heaven for us MotoGP fans!
World Superbikes had a big weekend, though, as Max Biaggi clinched the 2010 championship at Imola. Meanwhile, Suzuki thanked Leon Haslam for chasing Biaggi all season by releasing him because the Alstare Suzuki team lacks sponsorship for 2011. Haslam, second in points this year, is expected to move to BMW.
This move also could have ramifications on MotoGP, as the fate of Suzuki’s MotoGP team apparently is under discussion at the home base in Japan. Suzuki has put a bucket of bolts on track in MotoGP for the last three seasons, but the championship still needs major manufacturers. Kawasaki left after 2008, and Suzuki could be gone soon. That would leave only Honda, Yamaha and Ducati in MotoGP, which is not good.
Webber and fellow title protagonist Lewis Hamilton made contact while fighting for third, and Hamilton was forced to the garage early for the second straight race. Webber survived to finish third behind Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
Parking early for the second straight race put a dent into Lew’s title hopes, as he’s 20 points behind Webber. Vettel is 21 points back in fourth, and reigning World Champ Jenson Button is 25 points behind in fifth. It’s a hell of a struggle among superstars with just four races remaining.
Or are there just three races left?
The debut Korean Grand Prix looks to be on shaky ground as the final layer of asphalt hasn’t been laid on the circuit, and the race is scheduled for Oct. 24! Yeah, Oct. 24 of this year. Even F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone, who shrugs off criticism of the lunacy of putting F1 races in countries with no motorsports heritage or infrastructure, is a bit worried about whether the Korean race can be pulled off.
Sometimes it’s possible to take two completely incongruent things or people and create a fun concoction. Peanut butter and crispy bacon sandwiches. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss singing a duet. Red Bull and vodka. Add NASCAR and rally to that list.
Really. Ford has made the combination of NASCAR and World Rally quite tasty in a video series that is part of an ad campaign to promote its Fiesta model. The very cool video below combines a race between A.J. Allmendinger in a Sprint Cup stock car, Rally America star and YouTube legend Ken Block in a Ford Fiesta rally car and Richard Petty tapping his cowboy boots while looking on with glee. Yes, it’s surreal. And yes, it works. Hell, just watch it:
That was cool, wasn’t it? But enough with the fun and games. The Chase is about to start! The Chase is about to start! THE CHASE IS ABOUT TO START!
The NASCAR hype meter is spiking already as 12 drivers start the Chase for the Sprint Cup this Sunday at New Hampshire. SBNation’s Jeff Gluck takes a final look back at the race last Saturday night at Richmond and offers some interesting analysis and opinion, including a small swipe at America’s princess of speed, Danica.
As the Chase gets underway, column inches devoted to ways to “fix” the Chase are running neck and neck with those offering predictions of this year’s Cup winner. NASCAR.com gets into the action with a Dan Aykroyd-Jane Curtin-style “Point-Counterpoint” segment about changing the Chase.
But if you’re looking for a good, hype-free and opinion-free read about the Chase, look no further than this piece by Mike Mulhern about the new and improved Jack Roush. The Cat in the Hat lost another one of his nine lives when he crashed his plane earlier this year, losing the sight in an eye but hanging on to his life.
It’s about Roush’s third or fourth brush with death, and he realizes now that he may be living on borrowed time. He knows life is good, especially with Roush drivers Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle in the Chase, and he wants to spend more time appreciating the meaningful people and things in his life. A nice piece.
Another nice piece was penned by longtime motorcycle racer and journalist Dennis Noyes at SpeedTV.com about the recent tragic deaths of USGPRU rider Peter Lenz at Indianapolis and Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa at Misano. Dennis has been around the sport of motorcycle road racing for a long time and has seen and done nearly everything in it. He also is a former racer and the father of American Moto2 rookie Kenny Noyes, so he understands the mentality of racers and racing families better than most, explaining it in this poignant, moving column.
The IZOD IndyCar Series community is en route to Japan for the penultimate race of the season, with the title race between leader Will Power and challenger Dario Franchitti still on full boil. Power leads Franchitti by 17 points with just the Japan and Homestead races remaining. Those are both on ovals, a Franchitti strong suit and a Power weakness. Will has zero career oval victories.
But Power’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe thinks his fellow Aussie is up for the challenge of clinging to the lead over the last two races. Plus Will’s sense of humor probably will help him to stay loose.
Franchitti certainly isn’t gripping over the pressure of the title fight. The jet-setting Scot spent last weekend hanging out at the F1 race at Monza, watching the progress of his cousin Paul DiResta, who is a test driver for the Force India F1 team.
Dario wasn’t job-hunting in the F1 paddock in Italy, as he made it very clear that he’s happy to be in the IZOD IndyCar Series. But he might have had a shot at a job at Sauber if he knocked on that team’s door. Everyone’s favorite F1 retread, Nick Heidfeld, has replaced Pete Rose, er, fellow retread Pedro de la Rosa, at Sauber. Quick Nick is in for Charlie Hustle.
It’s nice to see that NASCAR isn’t the only series that recycles has-been’s at a regular rate. I guess Not-So-Quick Nick is the F1 version of Casey Mears or Elliott Sadler.
K-I-M-I C-O-M-E B-A-C-K
Just yesterday I highlighted two crashes by former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen — one in a rally car last weekend in Japan and one in a drunken stupor from a yacht a few years ago. I also said I would like to see Kimi back in an F1 car, where I still think he’s an immense talent, and my Ouija board must be working.
Autosport.com is reporting that Raikkonen has approached Renault for a seat on its F1 team next season, presumably replacing rookie Vitaly Petrov. Of course, Renault is playing it cool, insisting it will keep Petrov if he can improve his form over the final five races of the season.
Yeah, right. And I’m going to win a Pulitzer for this blog. Renault will keep a nobody rookie over a swashbuckling former World Champion? Only if finances are an issue, as Kimi will command and deserve a much larger pay packet than a petroruble-filled Russian ride buyer.
Time for a quick merry-go-round to see what’s shaking and baking in the motorsports world today, with tasty links to full stories elsewhere on the Interwebs about these topics, to boot. We’ll focus on the three series that compete annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and MotoGP — but anything with wheels and an engine is fair game.
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule will be announced Friday, Sept. 10, and the announcement is taking place in Milwaukee. Hmm. Think there’s any coincidence there? Is series CEO Randy Bernard going to unveil the sked in Packerland just because he loves a good beer and a brat as much as the next guy?
You can connect the dots.
While the biggest story this week in the IZOD IndyCar Series is what tracks will and won’t appear on the 2011 schedule, there’s still a crazy 2010 championship chase going on. Will Power leads Dario Franchitti by just 17 points, and — start the foreboding music of doom — the last two races take place on the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman Will, ovals.
Still, Power thinks he will conquer ovals sooner than later. It better be sooner, Little Dingo (yeah, I love those Verizon commercials, too!), or the not-so-wee Scot will become just the second driver to hoist the IZOD IndyCar Series championship trophy three times.
This has nothing to do with the schedule or the championship chase, but much like E.F. Hutton, when A.J. Foyt speaks, you listen. Paul Dalbey at More Front Wing offers a podcast with Super Tex this week. I don’t know what’s more refreshing, an interview that actually features questions instead of statements with responses or that the hard-drivin’, two-fisted Texan actually is doing a podcast. Either way, it’s a good listen.
Taking stock in NASCAR, the final race before the Chase this Saturday at Richmond has all the suspense of a deflated balloon, as Clint Bowyer has a 117-point lead over Ryan Newman for the 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Still, SBNation’s Jeff Gluck and NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello both warn that the lack of drama this Saturday shouldn’t force NASCAR into a knee-jerk reaction of expanding the Chase to 15 drivers, as has been rumored.
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes even the best plan doesn’t work out. This year is an aberration, as the fall Richmond night race usually features at least a couple of drivers fighting with every drop of sweat for the last spot or two.
Michael Waltrip Racing vice president and GM Ty Norris urges Corporate America to take a chance on a young fresh face as the leading man for its stock car sponsorship program. While Ty’s piece is a compelling story, perhaps the best part is the pictures of current NASCAR superstars as young turks. Tony Stewart without two chins and a gut! Jeff Gordon with a trucker hat, Gargoyles shades and a porn ‘stache! Junior with the Clorox look in his locks! Epic.
Formula One continues to be the most melodramatic soap opera on wheels, as the FIA ruled today that Ferrari will face no more punishment despite issuing team orders to its drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, to fix the finish of the German Grand Prix. That decision only plays into the cynics’ belief — and I’m one of them — that FIA stands for Ferrari International Aid.
The MotoGP world understandably continues to reel with sadness following the deaths in consecutive weekends of USGPRU rider Peter Lenz at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP and Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa at the San Marino Grand Prix.
You know it’s a bit of a strange racing weekend when two legends are penalized for going TOO fast.
But that’s exactly what happened last weekend at Dover and Monaco.
Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was locked in a tight duel with Kyle Busch for victory Sunday at Dover before he was nailed for speeding in the pit lane with just 35 laps to go. Three-time Brickyard 400 winner Johnson ended up 16th, and Busch sailed to his second victory of the season.
This strong performance by Johnson should dispel the ridiculous notion that he and crew chief Chad Knaus are in a mini-funk because they aren’t adjusting well to racing without the wing on the back of the Car of Tomorrow. That’s a joke: Remember, Johnson and Knaus won two of their four straight titles with a spoiler on the back of the car.
Still, it’s hard to deny that Hendrick Motorsports might not be the crushing mastodon of Sprint Cup this season. Only Johnson has won this season for the team, with four victories. But he’s winless since March 21 at Bristol.
Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Busch and Denny Hamlin have combined for five victories in the last seven races and are second and fifth in the standings, respectively.
Almost like when Tony Stewart seemed to be untouchable during 2005, the Gibbs team has found something that is putting it atop the NASCAR heap.
Hamlin finished fourth in the Cup race Sunday, but I thought his most impressive performance came in the Nationwide Series on Saturday. Hamlin flat-out dumped Clint Bowyer on a late restart, starting a chain-reaction melee. Bowyer, taking full advantage of NASCAR’s new “have at it, boys” policy, retaliated by body-slamming Hamlin into the Turn 2 wall.
When interviewed after the incident, Hamlin responded by saying he made a mistake by clipping Bowyer due to his limited Nationwide starts this season. A reasonable explanation. But Hamlin manned up when he said he didn’t blame Bowyer for stuffing him in the wall out of frustration. That was large.
At Monaco, Mark Webber led from lights to flag to win the most prestigious race of the Formula One season. Webb-ah also is tied atop the World Championship with his wunderkind teammate, Sebastian Vettel. But Red Bull, the best team on the grid, is quickly becoming Webber’s team. Don’t be surprised if tough man Mahk Webb-ah becomes the first Aussie World Champ since legendary hard-ass Alan Jones in 1980.
The oddest moment at Monaco came on the final lap. The field was under a Safety Car for a scary late crash between Karun Chandhok and Jarno Trulli, and the Safety Car pulled off just before the final corner on the final lap. But F1 rules state that if the Safety Car is deployed on the last lap, drivers are not supposed to race to the flag – even if the Safety Car pulls off! Racing is discouraged – only in F1. This rule must be called “The Photographer’s Rule,” eliminating the clutter of a Safety Car for the finish-line pictures.
Michael Schumacher thought otherwise of that rule and passed Fernando Alonso for sixth place when the Safety Car pulled off. How DARE YOU RACE, Weltmeister! Schumacher was docked 20 seconds, which dropped him from sixth to 12th.
Are you kidding me?
The greatest event on the motorsports calendar, the Indianapolis 500, opened Saturday. By the time Sunday rolled around, Helio Castroneves was fastest on both days, topping out just above 227 mph in his Team Penske machine. Not a bad way to start his quest for a record-tying fourth victory.
We’ll have much more on Indy next week, hopefully without an umbrella. The new qualifying format on Pole Day, in which the nine fastest cars have a 90-minute shootout for the pole, should be very interesting and a hell of a lot of fun.
•Song of the Week: This week’s top tune is offered with my tongue firmly in cheek: It’s the Judas Priest classic, “Breaking the Law,” in honor of Michael Schumacher actually showing the stones for trying to steal a position and getting his knuckles rapped.