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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 215 mph 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, i.e. 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
Duesenbergs 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

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 Montoya 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
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 TVs 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 Barrichello
began trying to catch Schumacher.
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.
Dan's Race Journals