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DAN'S PHOTO JOURNALS
The Platypus
U.S. Grand Prix
Saturday June 19, 2004
E.T. went to see the band Primus last night in Detroit
and drove down to Indy afterwards, arriving and
waking me up about 8 am.

I got ready pretty quick and we headed to the track; I
didn't bring my camera. We parked in someone's
yard near the track for $10.

ET was trying to sell 2 of his tickets, so he had them in
a ticket holder around his neck. The guy at the gate
thought they were tickets for qualifying and he let us
both in for free saving us $40!!

We found good seats up high in section 12 of Stand H
to watch F1 Qualifying. These seats provided an
excellent view of the cars screaming down the front
straight and breaking from 215mph to 85 for turn 1.
We could also see them in the infield section,
particularly turn 6. These seats are popular for a
reason and they were packed full.
F1 still sends out one driver at a time
for the preliminary qualifying - this first
session determines the order of
qualifying for session 2, ie. the fastest
drivers in session 1 get to qualify last
in session 2. The speeds in session 1
are faster because they fill the fuel
tanks up for session 2 because that is
the fuel they will start with on race day.
Consequently, the fastest times in
session 1 were 1 minute 09 seconds
and 1 minute 10 seconds in the final
qualifying. Ferrari won the front row.
We stayed and watched the Formula BMW USA
series, then we hiked over to the museum where E.T.
bought some Indy 500 shirts on sale while the
Porsches were out on the track. Then we walked
around to the team displays where E.T. was unable to
find a B.A.R. shirt that touted HONDA whom he loves.

We wandered outside the track and walked down
Georgetown road looking in the vendor tents. I found a
small 1969 F1 car model that I bought for $10. E.T.
ended up selling his two $150 tickets for $70 each to
a scalper. Tickets are not selling well this year.

We made it back to the car and then we drove to a
nearby shopping center where he met two people
he'd arranged to buy his other two tickets.

I decided to drive downtown. E.T. was very impressed
beginning with the view as we headed into the city.
They had the center of town (monument circle)
blocked off for a little festival. We parked and walked
into the circle. There was a cool car show and I really
regret that I didn't bring my camera. First, we
encountered lots of Jaguars from old E-types to a
modern supercar. I saw a new Aston Martin which I
think is about the most perfect looking road car
imaginable. There were old Deusenbergs and
Auburns, even some old race cars, such as a 1935
Indycar! I was stunned by a huge antique Rolls Royce
that had incredible woodwork on the inside and where
there should have been lots of chrome on the outside -
it was gold-plated! Chrysler had their new supercar
there - it was the only car on the circle that was roped
off. We ended our tour at the award ceremony, our
timing was perfect to watch the judging results - each
winner drove his car up to receive a crystal trophy.

Dinner at Houlahan's and then we hit a few nightclubs
on Meridian street, ending the night finally at Nickey
Blaine's for martinis.
U.S. Grand Prix
Sunday June 20, 2004
We got up at 9 and headed for the track around
10-10:30.

It was a marvelous sunny day with mild temps and a
light breeze just like yesterday.

While it was a late time to be showing up, we had no
traffic and drove down into the middle of a speedway
neighborhood to park. We parked at Cole and 22nd
street for just $15. We were about 100 yards from the
gate.
Once inside the track, there was about 40 minutes to
go until race time. We were surprised to see that the
tower terrace was practically empty, so we entered
there and sat up high in the shade near the pagoda
tower. We decided to stay here so that we could see
the start of the race. The Paddock was largely
unpopulated too. The other stands though were pretty
full.
The cars started their engines and
began the warmup lap, that is except
Montoya. His car wouldn't start and he
jumped out and ran for his garage. Here
you can see them pushing his car off of
the track.
Montoya hopped into his backup car and
pulled out here on pit lane. After the race
started, he followed them out in last place.
He ended up working his way up to third
place throughout the day!

Amazingly though, the race stewards
black-flagged him toward the end of the
race. They claimed that he had 15 seconds
to get his backup car out there and he ran
over a few seconds. This upset most
everyone.

Rather bizarre that the FIA race stewards
would let Juan Pablo drive almost the
entire race before bringing this rule
infraction to his attention.
There was a big crash at the very
first turn involving 4 cars. This
brought out the seldom-used Safety
Car. At this point, we decided to
hike to our real seats over in the new
Turn 6 stands. These stands provide
a decent view of the infield action,
however the distance between your
knees and the back of the guy infront
of you was too close. You can't get
to your cooler. It was too tight and I'll
never sit there again.
After getting sunburned yesterday,
the sun was too much for ET today,
so he went down front to stand under
the shade of a tree. This freed up
some room for me. We would see
quite a bit of the safety car during
this confusing race.
View from Turn 6 Terrace
My favorite driver, Fernando Alonso, had a
stunning start, weaving back and forth on the
opening run, moving from 9th place (8th now
with Montoya out) to 3rd by the first turn!!

I was soon bumming though. His right rear
tire had evidently picked up some shard and
blew out as he approached turn 1. His car
had a high-speed wiggle and then went
nose-first into the outside wall. :-(
The race barely got restarted when Ralph
Schumacher had a similar tire problem that
spun him backwards into the outside wall in
turn 13 (Not that I knew it at the time as there
are no tv's in view of these stands. If you sit
here ,you better have a radio if you want to
know what is happening in the race.) He was
hurt and did not get out of the car.

I mentioned in these journals a year or so
ago about the ineptness of the ambulance
crew at the F1 race. This time was no
different - the ambulance took 3 MINUTES to
get to him!! They took him out on a stretcher,
then paraded him around the entire track.
Later they said he was just bruised. Once he
got back to Germany they discovered he'd
broken his back in two spots and would have
to sit out of racing for a few months!
View from Turn 6 Terrace
View from Turn 6 Terrace
For a while, the two BAR Hondas
were on Schumi's tail, but something
happened to them and Rubens
began trying to catch Michael.
View from Turn 6 Terrace
You should have see the front of her!
Wow. I couldn't get my camera out in time...
Here was a cool street car -
ET and I went back to the Tower Terrace. We sat
in the furthest North end, Section 79, seat 10, row
MM. These seats are amazing, as you not only
get to the the front straight, but turns 1-7 and the
back straight!
There was a close battle for 1st.
Good race!
Here's a panarama picture showing turns 1-6 from these seats.
After the last event of the day, we hit the vendors for some track food. I tried
the all-beef shishkabobs ($6). They were excellent! I then tried the funnel
cake with powdered sugar. It was ok.

We got back to my house about 4pm and grilled up some hamburgers and
watched the race as I had taped it.
With about 5 laps to go, I left the stands and ET and I walked over to the back strraight to
watch the final laps.