Sunday - Sept 30, 2001
We got started early for a change and left for the track at 7:30. Unlike last year, the weather was nice.
We didn't have any of the horrible 4-mile long lines that you normally experience when going to the Speedway on other race days. We quickly got parked in someone's yard over near Crawfordsville Road for $20. As we walked toward the track, some dude started talking to Jay, but none of us could understand what he was saying. We finally figured out he was saying "Mercedes" when he finally added "Benz" to it. He was from New Zealand and had some weird way of pronouncing it. Funny.
As we entered the track, they gave us small American flags to wave.
We hurried to our seats to watch the F1 morning warm-up. ET and I were sitting in the Paddock Penthouse front row.
The Porsches raced first in the morning at 9:20. While the F1 cars average speed around the circuit was 1'14", the Porsches were doing it in 1'37".
Some German won the race. Sam Hornish, from the IRL, was a guest driver, as was David Donohue, son of the late great Mark Donohue. Dave finished in 8th position. I'm not sure where Sam ended up.
After the Porsche Race, they brought out a bunch of antique large sedan ragtops and lined them up. Then, many of the F1 teams sent their drivers down to take a parade lap in the old luxury cars. In the following picture, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Montoya roll by.
Jay and his girlfriend were sitting a few sections down from us and they had come over to sit with us. Next up, was the Ferrari Challenge race. Like last year, it was the most entertaining, as the drivers were amateurs and so there were spins and such.
Afterward, we all trekked into the infield and over to the museum area to show Betty around. I gave in and bought a BAR polo shirt for $50. At least it was $10 cheaper than the Ferrari polo. I got separated from the gang, so I bought a coffee and took my time working my way back to my seat in time for the race.
There must have been a few people who didn't show up in my row, because we had more room than we should have on the bench there. I hear the crowd was estimated at 175,000, so it was pretty full. I didn't see the Purdue marching band this year. They did have the children's choir sing the National Anthem again, however, you couldn't hear them at first.
Here is a photo sent in of a lovely lady from Columbia, by Canadian reader, Jim Jewell.
The F1 cars came out and did a lap and took their places on the grid. Each grid girl stood in front of each car, holding a flag of that driver's nation.
Jean Alesi's bright yellow Jordan was directly down in front of me.
Although Williams BMW started out looking strong, they eventually dropped out of the race. I believe Ralf simply spun off (I've yet to rewatch the race on tv, so I'm not sure) and then Montoya, who had been out front, lost power. Here is his car as they took it away after the race.
Similarly, Rubens was having a good day in his Ferrari, but a few laps from the end, some white smoke began to seep from his engine. Here is a picture of his teammate passing him finally for 2nd place.
During the race, I noticed that a piece had broken off of somebody's wing. It was about a foot or two in size. The Speedway's yellow shirts noticed it and walked up to the fence to look at it, but what could they do? FIA didn't supply them with a caution flag. Moments later, someone zipped by at over 200 mph and hit this piece of carbon-fiber. He obliterated the wing piece - it was like a stick of dynamite going off inside a chicken. Poof. The yellow shirt got kind of blasted by it too, but he seemed ok.
I sat close to the Gasoline Alley and could see the tv screen there.
Mika Hakkinen hung on to the lead and won his 2nd race of the year. Mika has had a very bad season and it was nice that he could win this race. Actually it was nice that anyone besides Michael could win.
After the race was over and the drivers were presented with their trophies, people streamed out. We stayed. We tried to listen to the post-race driver interviews, but Tom Carnegie was busy talking over the P.A. and drowned out everything. I love Tom, but this was not the time to be yakking. I was disappointed I couldn't hear.
As we waited for people to clear out, I took these pictures of the people leaving along Georgetown Road.
We took our time and visited all the vendors along the strip. We found some good "after race" sales. I was able to get me a BAR hat for 50% off - $15. I was very happy about that. By the time we finally made it back to our car, we easily drove out of Speedway and on toward home.