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                            INDY 500

Sunday May 28th  2006 - RACE DAY

I had a bit of a party last night.  D.R. was smart and went home
at 1:30.  E.T. and I stayed up past 4 a.m.  Then Brian showed
up early ready to go to the track.  I hadn't gotten much sleep
for days and I certainly didn't feel like arising.

We four approached on 16th street but it looked like they were
not going to let us turn on Georgetown Rd, so we took a side
street north to 20th street and took that into Lot 2 to park.  

It was going to be a super hot and sunny day.  I took a small
collapsable cooler containing a sandwich and two cokes.

The traffic in was not too bad, but there was a long line waiting
to get in the gate.  However we did not wait in line upon the
sidewalk, but walked right up and got in quickly.

We scored great seats this year - D.R. and I would sit in the
front row of Paddock Penthouse section 30.  Brian and E.T.
would sit a few sections down.  It was so hot and the front row
seats were in the full sun, so we stayed at the top in the shade
and breeze until it was almost time for the race to start.

While we waited, we had the pleasure of this pretty St Louis  
girl's company, who was also trying to stay cool.  
The Corvette pace cars were lined up single file along pit
row.  The Indy 500 princesses sat in them.

Everyone across from me in the Tower Terrace held up signs
which stated "America Supports You".

Celebrities came out and took a parade lap.
Then soldiers came out and marched down the road,
while the Purdue Marching band played old tunes and twirler
girls did their thing.
Photo by Brian Wheeler
The last row on the grid was in front of me.
Here is a collage of some of the Indycars....
The shade slowly crept toward our seats.  In the meantime I was
using a wet cloth to try and stay cool.  By lap 61, we were finally in
the shade.  The temperatures hit 89 degrees today and was the 3rd
hottest Indy 500 in history.  It was 125 degrees on the track.  I do not
know how the people sitting across the track from me in the tower
terrace survived the day with no shade, however I heard that no one
had heat stroke.... hard to believe.

Rookie Jeff Simmons pit was right across from my seat.  He left the
pits too soon and scattered his pit crew.  The gas man was still
fueling and he got slammed in to the wall and collapsed.  He was
taken away on a stretcher.   Meanwhile, Simmons drags the torn fuel
hose out onto the track, where Little Al hit it and wrecked.  Then
Simmons crashes by himself and is out of the race.   It was not a very
good race day for Simmons and the Rahal Letterman Ethanol team.
Felipe Giaffone leaving the pits
Although Sam Hornish Jr. put his Penske on the pole, Dan
Wheldon, the defending Indy 500 Champ, led most of the race
for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.  Danica Patrick spent most of
the day in 6th.  Helio surprisingly did not have a very good day.

There were few incidents throughout the day.  On the 2nd lap,
two rookie teammates collided and knocked each other out.

Two former champions, Helio Castroneves and Buddy Rice
collided and hit the wall later on lap 110.

Tomas Scheckter wrecked and lost his wing out in the middle of
the track.  Jaques Lazier came along and must have been
daydreaming or looking at the crowds to his right, as he clipped
the wing and it exploded sending a large piece reeling high up
into the stands.  I saw this big black rectangle thing go up into
Tower Terrace.  It was unreal, I wondered if I really saw it, or if it
was a shadow.  They never announced anything about it - I
suppose its track policy.  But later at home, I saw on tv that it
really did happen and that it hit a fan on the arm, fortunately
only causing minor wounds.
Buddy Rice's car burns
Tomas Scheckter slid into end of pit wall.
I believe Scheckter's wing flew into the crowd at
the center of the above photo.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports team performed admirably with driver
Airton Dare'.   How this guy can beat Rahal, Hemelgarn and
Foyt's teams with a small budget and one car is amazing,
nevermind that Sam is in a wheelchair!  (That umbrella girl held
that thing up through the whole race.)
The end was interesting due to some yellows and pit stop
strategy.  Without a radio, it was hard to tell why certain drivers
were moving forward or backward in the field.  For a moment, it
looked like Danica, who had admirably held on to 6th place most
of the day, was going to take the lead.  Tony Kanaan was
suddenly leading.  I had him in the betting pool as usual, so I
was happy for a few minutes.

There was a late yellow and the track went green with 5 laps to
go.
 Suddenly, Marco and Michael Andretti were in the lead!  
The audience gasped as the lead changed yet again.  As the
last lap came up, Sam Hornish Jr. rocketed back from a penalty,
passed Michael and as rookie 19 y/o Marco Andretti headed
down the final stretch toward the checkered flag, Hornish passed
him at the last second winning the race in the 2nd closest finish
in 500 history!
Sam Hornish Jr. a nose ahead of Marco Andretti a few yards before
the finish line.

I had to snap the above photo using my hearing and guessing when
these 225+ mph cars would zip into the frame.  I was surprised when I
got home and found that I'd captured it.  Damn I'm good.  ;-)

Sam is pretty good himself...
Everyone thought today's race was one of the best they have ever
seen!

We waited around after the race for about an hour, until they kicked
us out.  We drove out onto Georgetown Rd heading south,
intending to go right on 16th and get to 10th and then I-465.
However, the police forced us to go left (east) on 16th and wouldn't
let us turn south till we were past the track.  We never could turn
right, but had to take Holt Rd south.  We jumped on Kentucky Ave
and then finally reached I-465 on the southside.

We got home in time to watch the race on tv, as it is delayed here in
Indianapolis.  If you live here, you can't watch it live unless you have
a satellite feed.  Hence, many people listen to the race on the radio
around here.
Soon the cars were brought out onto the grid in preparation for the 1 p.m. start.
Jim Nabors looks on as Mari Hulman George gives
the signal to the drivers to start their engines.
Florence Henderson sings "America" and Jim Nabors sings "Back Home Again In Indiana".
Thousands of balloons are released into the air.

During the singing of the National Anthem, 4 F-16 fighter jets flew over.  A minister says a prayer.  
All of this is tradition.  But when the hundreds of thousands stand and fall silent and taps rings out
so forlornly,  I think of the boys who have lost their lives in defense of our country and it really
makes me sad.  I sometimes wonder why they try to make me sad before an event that I look
forward to all year, but I know its good that they use this forum, which reaches so many people, to
remind us of our nation's power, that we are at war and the sacrifices that have been made in order
to let freedom ring around the world.
Photo by Brian Wheeler
Helio Castroneves slid up to pit wall
Jaques Lazier sent Scheckter's
wing into the audience - notice
missing front wing.
DAN'S PHOTO JOURNALS