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DAN'S PHOTO JOURNALS
The Platypus
Indianapolis Motor Speedway -
Opening Day
Sunday - May 4, 2003
I managed to arise in time to watch the Spanish grand prix
live at 7 a.m. this morning before showering and heading to
the track for opening day.

I arrived in Speedway at 10 a.m.. I entered the speedway off
of 16th street and was directed to park in the 3rd turn infield.
I tried to buy a beer, but they don't sell them until noon on
Sundays. Oh yeah.
I hiked up to the pagoda and saw three
long lines of people waiting for autographs.
I chose the medium long line. A lot of
drivers came out at 11 a.m. and sat along
tables and began signing autographs for
an hour.
While I waited in line, the 500 princesses
came out to us and handed out driver
cards.
About 40 minutes later I got to say hi to Robbie
Buhl, Sara Fisher, Tomas Scheckter, and Billy
Boat. I also got Sam Hornish's autograph, but
he was on the phone so I didn't talk to him. I
asked Tomas if his father, Jodie Scheckter,
was going to come to the race and he said that
he would be showing up the Friday before race
day.
During this whole time, a Beatles tribute
band was playing on the stage. They
sounded very good. I noticed that the
speedway had installed more side suites
behind the tower terrace, creating a much
bigger pavilion and pushing the stage
much further back away from the track.
It was finally noon and I was able to buy a
Foster's lager and a hamburger and go sit
in the tower terrace to await the festivities.
However, they did it much differantly this
year than last year and I saw the crowning
of the queen on the tv jumbotron across the
track instead of down in front of me.
Evidently they'd switched it to the stage or
something. Well, I just stayed where I was.
Soon the queen and her court were there
with their escorts, and Miss Indiana was
singing the "Star Spangled Banner". Five
Indy 500 champions that are competing in
this year's race took a lap around the track.
And as always, the Scottish bag pipe band
marched around.
Megan McManama was crowned as the
500 Festival Queen. She is a radio and tv
major at ISU and was recently eleted
president of the university's student
government. Her parents live here in Indy
and she graduated from my high school,
Perry Meridian.
The new pace car is this strange creation:
part pick-up truck, part open roadster. This
new Chevy SSR has a aluminum V8
pumping out 290 h.p.
Sarah Fisher only got to practice 5 laps
and then a oil fitting busted and they had
to haul her car out with a diaper on.
It was a slightly cool, overcast day. A lot of cars came out and began practicing around 1 or 2 p.m.
Roger Yasukawa driving for Super Aguri
Fernandez Racing
Tora Takagi driving for Mo Nunn
Billy Boat driving for Panther Racing
Tony Renna driving for Kelley Racing
- Defending champion Helio Castroneves driving for Penske
Buddy Rice driving for Red Bull Cheever
Scott Dixon driving for Ganassi
Shigeaki Hattori driving for Foyt Enterprises
Dan Wheldon driving for Andretti-Green
The day's practice ended early when rain fell about 4:30
p.m. Scott Sharp had the fastest time of the day at
228.764 mph. 29 drivers practiced today and all but 3
made it over 220 mph.
I walked up toward the museum. There was an IRL video
game center setup. One even had full-size IRL cars to sit
in while you played. I went into the gift shop and looked for
some bargains. You can find things marked down in price
if they are dated last year. My best bargain was a nice
full-size 2001 F1 Flag for $1. As usual on opening day, I
picked out my mom's mothers day gift (crystal jewelery
box and necklace). I also picked up a nice Jeff Gordon hat
for $10 and a race polo for $20.
For years I have lusted over these big all leather racing
coats that go for $1100. They only make 50 a year. They
had a couple left over from last year and were marked
down half price. Still too much money though. Someday I
hope to buy one.