The party of D had an unusually great time at the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. With regard to the race itself the start was a little shaky on a lot of fronts but once the boys and girls finally understood the race would not be won in the first few laps but could definitely be lost the show became great. Montoya’s march from 30th after being rear ended by a lady driver, necessitating a change of the entire ‘wide load’ portion of the car, as well as a pit overshoot makes one appreciate what was required to get it done. Takuma Sato screwed himself (and Sage Karam) on lap 1 with a banzai move that ended Karam’s day and put Taku 3 laps down after replacing suspension and wing parts. Despite that hurdle Taku was the third highest finishing Honda. Can you imagine what might have happened had he backed out of three wide in the south chute understanding there were 199 ¾ more laps to go?
Predictions of doom and gloom leading up to the race proved naysayers continue being the most stupid, irrational people on earth, and they were wrong again. I think we all know the first time a car flies into a crowd the sport is over. Given the level of panty wearing in society today the end might come the next time a driver dies. If the IndyCar Series is foolish enough to introduce aero kits then meaningfully test the oval package for the first time at Indy they deserve all the grief they got leading up to the race. There were a variety of accidents during the race, but nothing that resulting in flight, floating or other airborne adventure.
Cynical anti-oval sentiment usually expressed with passive aggressive smarminess was noticeable in many interviews, and often by American drivers onto which IndyCar would like to bestow hero status. The sickening part to this legacy fan is the way IndyCar remains complicit in actively attempting to kill the oval genre. One in depth look at the lack of meaningful presentation at utterly great venues such as Pocono and Fontana is proof. Bottom line: IndyCar should always schedule at least one oval event prior to May. I admired the efforts of Brian Clauson and the Byrd team but why does it have to be that way in the first place?
The oval race at Indianapolis remained spectacular once talent engaged. Predictably most of the race was a Penske/Ganassi shootout and Penske had more bullets. Honda is obviously out to lunch on something, be it horsepower or getting their machines through air. That makes performances by Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti all the more impressive. Graham is having a dream season and his biggest worry may well be Courtney’s teeth. They look as if they could do damage if misplaced.
Racing itself through the field was thoroughly exciting. This is important because ESPN on ABC misses it consistently. Several drivers such as Jack Hawksworth made things interesting in terms of passing. He was aggressive once too often toward the end. Triston Vautier created a Donald Davidson trivia question when he qualified one car but raced another. The Coyne effort ended up being led by Pippa Mann, who spent the majority of her day in the back and staying out of the way of faster cars. Positive thoughts are going out to injured members of that organization’s pit crews, many of whom have been treated like bowling pins so far this season.
Weather and crowds were great for the 99th running and the more seasoned, mature Juan Montoya has gained an adult respect for the place to go along with his considerable talent. As we move toward the beginning of the second hundred Indianapolis 500s I have a few suggestions:
-Kowtowing to ESPN on ABC for the timing of pre-race events has ruined the on-site experience for attendees. In years past there was a rhythmic flow leading up to the command. That has disappeared in recent years in order to operate according to their timetable. Now there are long periods of complete silence while commercials air on ABC. That is stupid. IMS needs to operate its own pre-race pageantry then make ABC work around that. It is a lot easier that way and far better for paying customers.
-Never allow Mari Hulman-George near a mic again. The command yesterday was worse than that for the Grand Prix. I am assuming the ‘helper’ was a daughter. It came off like a thud. People who know that family love them and their contributions and enthusiasm can never be overlooked. To the hundreds of thousands in attendance and the millions watching or listening she came off as either a drunken or dementia-addled sideshow. For the 100th I might suggest three possibilities: A) a selected fan who has attended for decades. B) a video of Tony Hulman in his prime. C) A decorated member of the military. After the 100th perhaps they could whore it out to some corporate entity since a lot of other NASCAR tricks are now being copied. In any event, retire Mari permanently.
-Straight No Chaser did a remarkable job replacing Jim Nabors. Their rendition was traditional, respectful and nostalgic. They should be invited back. If they are they should be allowed to slow down a bit and sing both verses. The rushed snippet version was not optimal. If the boo birds win and they go another direction for #100 SNC should STILL be included, and another ideal slot would be in place of Florence Henderson for God Bless America. She is well beyond her expiration date as well. The rendition this year was even more nails-on-a-chalkboard grating. She and Mari should remain in their suite all day long from now on.
-Audio glitches continued plaguing the day. One might think that after several years this would get figured out.
-I am unable to comment intelligently on the television coverage because as I tried to view the same day playback in Indy I fell asleep soon after the race began. I will try again in a day or so and offer commentary then. The radio guys were their usual eloquent selves and my new RE 3000 kept me up to date on the teams and drivers.
-Newbie fans were enthusiastic. After the race they wondered how they had missed such great racing for as long as they had. Now we’re off to Detroit to kill off that type of momentum. I keep wondering what the series will do to piss Eddie Gossage off enough when Texas rolls around to get thrown out so their COTA wet dreams can be realized. That is admittedly cynical but highly realistic.
The party of my brother was seated in the midst of a gaggle of hypocrites in the Southwest Vista. These adult children were seated in a group wearing dated, irrelevant 1990s cart-themed synthetic shirts and even some defunct hate site attire. He indicated there was some guy named Kevin who would not shut up the entire day. He told me he got a chuckle out of their presence. For youths who spend an inordinate amount of time falsely claiming not to pay attention to anything even remotely related to IndyCar and hating any/everything related to IMS he thought it odd they would actually be there, preserving their liar/hypocrite status. He also indicated their drinking and loud talking was disruptive. Usually those who cackle the loudest are the most fervent followers. LOL.
Now it is off to watch the replay to see what I missed in person and renew tickets. The saddest part about today is the fact that we have to wait another year.