|Indy 500 Opening Day & Rookie Orientation
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
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 it :-)
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 team
mate, 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 head
phones 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 was playing.
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 some
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
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 sky.
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 large billboard