|Indy 500 ~ Opening Day ~ Rookie Orientation Day
Sunday May 8, 2005
I re-read these online diaries of mine a few days ago and
discovered something. I noticed that often I was late getting to the
Speedway because of household chores. Vowing to learn by my
mistakes, I thought it best that I do no chores in May.
Thinking twice, I decided to just get them done on Friday.
I love May. Most of all because it means going to the Speedway,
partying and hanging out in the sun with music and fun and
excitement. Of course I love race cars too. I could feel my pulse
quicken and my mood elevate just by turning onto 16th Street as I
got closer to the track.
I stopped by the IMS credential office and got my bronze garage
pass pin. It got me in the gate for free. They parked me way out in
the 3rd turn. Some people were getting out grills and moving up to
the viewing hills to sit. I caught the trolley up to the pagoda tower.
I caught it on the way back too. They have four of these trams
running. I recommend using them.
The first thing I did was run into Patrick Carpentier. This long-time
CART driver is competing in his first Indy which means he's a
rookie. While only the rookies would be on the track today, there
was enough of them that there was a lot of action on the track all
day. What I mean is there was often someone on the track and
often 3 or 4.
I was standing in front of the pagoda tower by
the pits when someone's mom waived the
green flag for the first time this month. I believe
Danica Patrick was the first out. I never saw
her out of her car today. I'm looking forward to
I headed over to the Alley Cats to say Hi to Mike.
He's always there. I strolled into the garage area
and saw CART driver Bruno Junquiera and his
press agent. (That's a lollipop in his mouth, not a
cigarette.) They were just hanging out and she
came over and talked to me.
She said that like last year, they needed to
qualify this weekend as they would have to leave
for the CART Mexican Race. His CART
champioin teammate, Sebastian Bourdais, was
competing in his first Indy and was busy trying to
pass his Rookie test. Bruno has competed in 4
Indy 500's and had some excellent finishes.
Here is A.J. Foyt supervising the photo-shoot of his
grandson in a makeshift studio setup in one of his garages.
Later I moved out toward the track to get
I bought a coke on the way. Evidently
Coca-Cola is the new soft drink of choice.
I noticed that the Pepsi stage is now called
the Coca-Cola stage.
Anyway, some yellow shirts were blocking
the entrance to the far south Pit Road
Terrace where I wanted to go. I talked the
guy into letting me up there to take a photo.
I move up to the top of the stands. Some dude
was sitting up there next to me with
headphones on spotting for Ryan Briscoe.
I took some photos and then got my flask out
and started doing some shots.
About this time someone came up and gave
this spotter some water.
The spotter was amused at my flask and asked
if it contained whiskey.
I said it did.
I realized with a start that it was none other
than Arie Luyendyk!
I was sitting next to a two-time winner!
I wonder if he wanted a shot?
I asked him if he was surprised by Danika
Patrick's good performance in Japan last week.
He said he wasn't.
I asked him if he would drive this month and he
said he would not.
I wanted to ask him questions and talk, but he
was busy watching Briscoe and giving
feedback, so I did my best to leave him alone.
Before I left the area, I got him to sign the bill
of my Scott Goodyear hat. I also gave him my
business card. Maybe he'll stop by this web
page one day.
I returned to the garage area and checked
out the east end of it. There was the usual
number of motorcycles lined up. Also there
were these fuel tanks all lined up and ready.
Larry Foyt's car
I went out to the plaza and found some
shade and listened to this great band that
Within a half-hour they were done and I
moved up to the stage as Tom Carnegie,
Dave Colabro, Buddy Rice and his
team-owner, Bobby Rahal took the stage.
They had a question and answer session
with the audience. Nothing much, kids
asking for autographs and people giving
praise instead of asking questions. I wanted
to ask them why they weren't wearing their
Indy 500 rings.
Afterward, Buddy came down to sign some
autographs, so I had him sign my hat too.
Wow, two Indy 500 champs on my hat! If I'd
been thinking, I might have gotten Rahal's
Then I headed over to get in line to get
Normally I don't worry about getting
autographs, but I had a friend ask me
today to get him some for his "race wall".
An hour later, after standing in the hot
sun with no drinks, I got Jeff Ward, Scott
Dixon and Darren Manning's.
There was also another line for of A.J.
Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter who were also
giving out autographs.
If you stare at this photo long enough,
you will see Darren Manning
My whisky gone, I bought a big beer and headed
over to watch race cars from the tower terrace.
The only cars on the track today were the rookies,
that is drivers who had not raced in the Indy 500
before. Today and tomorrow are "Rookie
Orientation", an event that is normally ran in April.
IMS decided to move it back to Opening Day. I think
perhaps doing this and not having the normal
opening day ceremonies resulted in a light crowd at
the track today. It certainly wasn't because of the
weather as it was 82 degrees and not a cloud in the
The rookies have to run laps at certain speeds. It
was after 4 o'clock and the test would be closed for
the day at 5.
I saw Danica Patrick run the fastest time of the day -
On the way home, I snapped a picture of this