Returning To Indy After Seventeen Years!

Indy Car two seater

(WOMR file photo)

It has been seventeen years (17) since my last time in the grandstands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the year was 1996.

That year, 1996, was the first year that Tony George, the former president of the the speedway and grandson of legendary owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony Hulman, split from the sanctioning body, CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams).  Tony George organized the Indy Racing League (IRL), and initiated the rift that has nearly killed open wheel racing!  But I digress!

Anyway Wednesday morning I will be driving to the speedway for American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day.  There will be several autograph sessions for the current Indy Car Series drivers that are in the field for the 2013 Indy 500.

On Thursday the track activities include Indy Lights practice for the Firestone Freedom 100, and qualifying for the race that will be on Friday.  Additionally, there will be some of the vintage Indy 500 race cars, from the golden era of racing, brought out to the track.  Those classics are normally housed within the museum!

The Friday track activities includes vintage Indy 500 cars, Indy 500 practice (Carb Day), even though these race cars have not had carburetors in about forty years, the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race, and the Indy 500 pit stop competition.

Saturday will find the vintage Indy 500 roadsters, vintage sprint cars, and vintage midgets out along pit road, as well as honoring, and celebrating Parnelli Jones’ 50th anniversary of his 1963 Indy 500 victory!

Lastly, I really don’t have to tell you what happens on Sunday, it is “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing”, the 97th running of the Indy 500.

Notwithstanding all that is going on at the track prior to the Sunday race, there is an excellent chance that history might be made this Sunday when the checkered flag waves.  Both Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves have a shot at joining a very exclusive Indy 500 club, if either of them wins the race.  Both drivers have won this prestige race a total of three times.

There has been only three race car drivers, in the entire history of the Indy 500, to win the 500  four times.  Those drivers in this fraternity are “Super Tex”, A.J. Foyt, Jr., Al Unser, Sr., and Rick Mears!  If either Dario, or Helio can win this race, they will forever be in a very good company, and a rather large feather will be stuck in their caps!

Standby for further updates from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!



Rain, Fuel, and Pocono


Story lines:

1.  Pocono History :

2.  Track Design:

3.  Fuel Strategy:

5.  Newman says he has made his decision.

6.  Reflections on Indy:

7.  Crunch time for the Chase:


Pocono is the last race track to be independently owned.  The track was the idea of Drs. Joe amd Rose Mattioli of the Philadelphia area.  Back in 1952 Joe and Rose met at Temple University. Joe was going through Dental School and Rose later became a Podiatrist.  In 1960 they purchased some land in the Pocono Mountains of Pa. with the thought of bringing racing to the New York-Philadelphia area. 

The first track was a 3/4 mile track on site, but by 1971 the track was rebuilt to be a 2 1/2 mile tri-oval.  The track was designed by former Indy 500 winner, Roger Ward.  There a three very distinctive turns and the longest straight way on the NASCAR circuit.  Turn #1 is modeled after the now defunct Trenton Speedway in NJ with a banking of 14 degrees, the Champ Cars used to race there in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  Turn #2 is modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a banking of 9 degrees.  And finally, turn #3 is modeled after The Milwaukee Mile with  banking of 6 degrees.

Notable NASCAR firsts at Pocono:

1.  Richard Petty wins inaugural race in 1974.

2  1986, Tim Richmond wins after recovering from an early crash to beat Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine in a photo finish.

3.  1988, Bobby Allison suffers a career ending injury in a first lap crash getting T-boned by by #63 Jocko Maggiacomb.

4.  1999, Bobby Labonte sweeps both races.

5.  2000, Jeremy Mayfield knocks the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. out of the way to win the race. 

6.  2006, Rookie Denny Hamlin sweeps both races.


Once again rain played an integral part of the race weekend.  Qualifying was completed on Friday, but Saturday’s practice was completely washed out.  So when the race started, it was the first time that the drivers were in the cars since Friday afternoon.  The drivers made it all the way to the tunnel turn, turn# 2, before there was a wreck!!  Joe Nemechek got under and into Kevin Harvick turning both of the cars around.  Fortunately, nobody got in the retaining wall.  This reporter will admit that ol “Happy ” Harvick really got “up on the wheel” and kept it off the wall!!  It looked a liitle like the race a few weeks ago at “Smoke”‘s track in Ohio where they were sideways slinging dirt everywhere!!!  That race was the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway that many Cup drivers participated to raise money for The Victory Junction Gang Camp.


The race was relatively incident free except for when Menard tangled with Nemechek about mid-race.  Shortly thereafter with 69 laps to go, the rains came.  The rain mainly fell back on the tunnel turn, but NASCAR threw the Red Flag. The delay was fairly short and the NASCAR officials got the track dried and the race was restarted. 


Now the crew chiefs had to formulate their fuel strategy.  Could they make it on one more stop or do they have to make two???  The calculators were a smokin’, the tension and excitement was escalating!  As the laps were winding down there was many strategies that were unfolding.  Some teams waited til their pit window opened up, some short pitted, and some were rolling the dice staying out to the end!  Which strategy would be the winning one?


Carl Edwards’ crew chief elected to keep him out, hoping that they had enough fuel to go to the end.  It worked!!!  Edwards held off the rest of the field.  A few of the competitors, Dale Jr. included ran out of fuel coming off turn 4.  A slight miscalculation that caused them eight places in the finish!  Remember that I said that Harvick was involved in the first lap spin, he came all the way back and finished fourth today!!


With just five races left until the Chase begins, the drivers and the the teams are feeling the pressure.  It is crunch time!  For those on the outside, it is time to make your move to the front!  For those in positions 6-12, you have to solidify your efforts and your position in the standings.  Consistency is key to making The Chase!


Finally, both NASCAR and Goodyear have publically apologized to the fans and the race teams for really missing the tire setup last week at Indy.  It is this reporter’s opinion that, in this day and age of technology, it is almost impossible to think that the tire compound was so far off!!!  With all the research that was done prior to emplementing the new car, both agencies should have known the characteristics of the car and the associated tire wear tendencies.


You didn’t have to look it up, ’cause I aready did!!!!!