|101st INDY 500
1st Day of Qualifying
Saturday, May 20th, 2017
Rain limited practice this morning, and then returned heavily
at 11 a.m. when quals were to start.
So I stayed home and watched the radar. It looked like the
thunderstorms would blow over by 1 pm and then it would
take 2 hours to dry the track, so I planned to leave for the
speedway at 3:30 pm.
My friend BW showed up about then and we drove my
Pontiac around 465, getting off on 10th Street and winding
our way over to Georgetown Road. I wanted to park near
Stand C as we had passes for the Hulman Terrace Suite.
Good timing as qualifying just started at 4 pm. Management
also announced qualifying would continue past 6 p.m. and
that every driver would get one chance to qualify.
I ordered some deluxe nachos ($12) and a pint of local beer
($9). BW, ever the penny pincher, ordered a Coors and was
then mad that it cost $8. Ha ha.
We sat outside in front of the suites and watched cars qualify.
After I finished my food and beer, we picked up
some pit/garage passes and caught a golf cart
over to the pagoda.
Everyone in the plaza was standing still, staring up
at the monitor on the back of the pagoda.
We saw that Sebastien Bourdais had wrecked on
the back straight and the safety team was there
trying to help him, but he was still in the car. It
took them awhile to get him out and clean up the
Later at home, I would see he had a horrific
crash. His back end started to come around in T2
and he automatically corrected, which sent his car
almost head-on into the wall. As the car bounced
off the wall, it exploded in fire and sliding sideways
down the track, would flip over, but come to rest
on it's wheels. At the hospital, the doctors
determined he had multiple fractures of his pelvis
and a broken hip and would undergo surgery
tonight. The car was completely destroyed and
Dale Coyne Racing hopes to change over
Bourdais' street circuit car to superspeedway trim.
It is not known who will drive Bourdais' entry.
BW had bought a beer so he wasn't allowed
in the pits or garages. We waited over in
gasoline alley for him to drink it. I talked to
Mike of the Alley Cats. He told us Fernando
Alonso was being cool and signing autographs.
He said Montoya never does that and just zips
through the alley in carts. He said he is never
smiling and so they call him "Smiley!"
I noticed they moved the alley cats "cage" away
from the garage fence, creating a passage for
pedestrians. Mike was the only guy in there
and it seems most of the Cats have retired from
their daily attendance on the Alley.
BW and I went in the pits and walked south to
where the remaining cars were lined up to
qualify. BW brought his Nikon today and we
It was around 6:30 p.m. when we made our
way to the garage area.
This new structure was in the north west
infield. I am not sure if this was used as
stands for the IndyCar Grand Prix last
weekend, and/or maybe it will be used for
the Carb Day concert.
Buddy & Kara Lazier
Sebastian Saavedra gets neck massage.
Marco Andretti ready to go qualify
Oriol Servia has an interesting helmet
Ed Carpenter would go out and get
fastest speed of the afternoon
I was hoping to find Fernando Alonso and get
him to sign my old Alonso Benetton F1 hat that I
I found his garage, but no sign of him.
His car was not there either.
We found it going through tech inspection.
Graham Rahal's Indy car
We were getting ready to leave when this
lady (Katia Bouttier) recognized BW and
they started talking.
She was French and was married to an
Andretti mechanic (Mike Chafin) whom
We walked back to the Andretti garages so
BW could say hello to him.
The mechanic told me he'd been in racing all
his life and that he met his wife at Le Mans,
near where she lived.
I saw reporter Robin Miller. I've often thought
of interviewing him about the 1996 CART/IRL
split and subsequent Indycar war. I didn't
have a card or a pencil and paper, so I didn't
talk to him.
Quals were over and I got us a ride on a golf cart.
I had the guy first take us to Stand B. I had to run
up to the penthouse where I had some friends who
had some race day garage passes for me. He
waited on me and then took us back down to
We returned our pit passes and retrieved our
credit cards that they held as collateral. They
wouldn't accept my 'Astronaut Training
Application.' (I didn't get hired. I missed every
question on the test except my name.)
I was really thirsty and luckily BW had a cold beer
waiting for me back at the car in a cooler!
We dropped the top and drove home through the
I get to turn around and do this all tomorrow.
|This sign was on an overpass downtown.
The McLaren Honda Andretti car
Josef Newgarden heads out of the pits to
start his qualifying run
|Fans watch monitor with concern for Sebastien Bourdais.