Howdy folks…it has been a while. Yours truly retired in early May and my now leisurely days have been spent primarily at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the sold out 100th running of the great race.
Qualifications this weekend were fascinating. The old guy part of me who has been attending time trials since 1959 gets pretty disgusted there are not more than fifty entrants putting it all on the line to make the show over four days. Pole day on the last day? Wow. Time, however, marches forward. A micromanaged shell game of reality show-like manufactured drama with a bare minimum number of spec cars evidently appeals to a younger audience and that is what IMS must cultivate.
Then an odd thing happened on Sunday. Drama. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic who believes he will one day walk again, drove a specially outfitted Corvette around the track in a special qualifying run with nothing more than his head. At one point a trap speed reported him traveling at 157mph. Instant standing ovation from the thousands in attendance. Then in the closing moments on the last run of the day Schmidt’s primary driver James Hinchcliffe put a Schmidt car on the pole one year after a near death experience at the track. He knocked off popular Tennessee native Josef Newgarden who also drives for a small team. Amazing. There are few Penskes or Ganassis to be found up front. Even the Andretti team had a rebound and talk of Chevy sandbagging was quickly quieted.
Many of us got a first-hand look at track improvements, including all the new seats, configuration and entrance around the first turn. Some traditionalists bemoan such changes but this one believes they are evolutionary, overdue and definitely respect the history of the joint. Spectacular work has been done.
Frankly the biggest complaint from us old guys is not the physical plant. It looks better than it has in years. Even restrooms got makeovers. Improvements to the sound system were overshadowed by the crap funneled through it. Imagine throwing a couple of bowling balls and half a dozen cats into a commercial washing machine then setting it for ‘high.’ That is what a lot of the ‘music’ sounded like. Or imagine a group of roofers, some pounding nails while others clanged saws while shouting incoherently. What is that? Considering the place has been around for over 100 years would it kill them to employ a musical curator to weave in actual songs from past and present decades? Imagine weaving in clips of folks like Tom Carnegie, Sid Collins and others. I know, I know…it’s all about younger demographics. I was able to kill a lot of it with my scanner headphones. If music is my biggest issue we are doing great.
Now it’s on to race day. I will begin paying attention to the forecast about Thursday. Carb day should be great and the race looks to be awesome. Here in Hoosierland all is well!