Dan's 2002 Speedway Journal
Race Day
Sunday - May 26, 2002
vet vettes
Tony Kanaan
Sam Hornish, Jr.
At one point, there was a loud
boom. The first thing I thought of
was some terrorist bomb!
(I'd noticed that while the
Speedway lies in several
flight paths for the nearby
international airport, no jet
airliners were being
allowed to fly over during
the race! Also, all the little
planes that were towing
around banners and the
helicopters bringing in the
rich, all disappeared when
the Stealth arrived.)
Anyway, the loud boom was
caused by the fuel tank in
Robby Gordon's pits. These
large tanks have lids about the
size of manhole covers. Their's
built up pressure somehow and
blew that top off about 30 feet
into the air. Luckily people saw
it coming and scattered. It
landed close to the stands,
several pits down and didn't hit
Fuel Lid
That silver
round thing
laying back by
the stands is
the lid that
blew off. Also
you can see
the lid still on
the fuel tank
for Red Bull
guys with suds
and water
started dousing
the tank and
Gordon's car.
They say you
can't see
methanol burn.
After they'd
soaked it, then
a whole lot of
guys starting
sweeping up
the water to
keep it off the
pit lane. Wow,
what a fast
This race preceded
well, with very few
cautions or accidents.
One unfortunate was
rookie Tomas
Scheckter, who led
many laps in his
Infiniti-powered car
before smacking the
Scheckters wreck
Whats left of
I bought some
bottled water
from the
stand for $3.
First time I've
ever payed for
water. Jay filled
it up with beer
for me from his
mini keg. (You
da man, Jay!)
Toward the end of the race, it was pretty evident
that Helio was going to win it again (and Jay our
money.) But Helio was running very low on fuel and
Paul Tracy was starting to catch him. There was a
wreck on the 2nd to last lap of the race and the
yellow flag came out. I thought Helio had wrecked!
That meant Paul Tracy would win! Holy cow. But
then, along came Helio. Someone else had wrecked
and the yellow came out for the last lap and that
was that. Helio Castroneves had won his 2nd Indy
500 victory in his second attempt. Very impressive!
Helio Castroneves
Castroneves is
the 2001 &
2002 Indy 500
Helio completed
another lap and
brought the car to a
stop in the middle
of the track on the
finish line. He got
out and ran over to
the fence to climb
it, as is his tradition.
He was joined by
others on his
Penske Racing
Team Green
argued that
their driver,
Paul Tracy,
had been in
the lead
when the
yellow came
out, but
officials said
Helio was
the winner.
As people filed out, we hung out and waited and watched the interviews on the monitor. I
fired up a big cigar that I'd brought with me. ET roamed around digging through people's
leftovers. Jay took pictures of him eating discarded fried chicken, potato chips, etc.
Funny, but as it ended up, he should have saved his appetite. Eventually some yellow shirt
told us to get out so we started moving. We explored some of the souvenir stands set up
outside of the track. I found a small American flag to go on my car antennae. We took
our time making our way back to the car. By the time we left the parking lot, several
hours had passed since the race had ended. I pulled out onto Georgetown and went north
to 38th Street. I decided to make a left there to go catch 465. Big mistake. Traffic wasn't
moving in that direction. I eventually was able to turn off onto another road. I then ran into
another road block! Geesh. It wasn't moving either and I was low on gas.
Finally we were able to pull off into a gas station.
I then followed some locals through some parking
lots and got free of the traffic. We decided to
stop at a Outback Restaurant we'd found. Jay
bought us dinner. By the time we got out of there,
we didn't have any trouble getting to the hiway.
The next day, ET treated us to brunch at Le
Peeps downtown. That place is great.
Unfortunately, I had to go into work on Memorial
Day due to some critical deadlines, so Jay and
Betty returned to Alabama and ET headed back
to Michigan.
I hope that next
year, I will be
able to take off
more days and
go out to the
track more.
Hopefully next
May won't be
as rainy and
cold. I hope the
competition is
as fierce as this
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