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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 elected
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.
Dan's Race Journals