The Indianapolis Motor Speedway cannon went off on schedule at 6am Sunday to let the fans in for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. There was no visible cannon smoke in the air this time. The sunrise 24 minutes later was a non-event – too many clouds in the East for anything but a gradual over-all lightening of the skies. The lightning warnings had disappeared from the monitors, and all the big screens showed racing logos, endless loops of driver bios and photos, and a wide variety of other race-related notices… until live TV took over for extended pre-race shows. Occasionally the radar map would show. Didn’t look promising. A few scattered people were already getting settled in the front straight grandstands by 6:30am.
The temperature started out at 75 degrees F at 4am, dropped to 65F a couple of hours later, and then started slowly warming again. Humidity up and down, wind up and down. The weather continued to clear. Sunglasses and sunscreen were in order.One thing about Indianapolis, you’ll get weather.
In Gasoline Alley and garages, the teams were putting the final touches on the racecars, and from the looks of it, might extensive handiwork is in play. The NTT IndyCar Tech Team held its morning meeting, while the teams waited patiently in the queue for their turn in the Tech Tent and Garage.
Jessica Mace of Avon IN is the only female over-the-wall team crew member this year. This is her third time at the Indy 500 as over-the-wall tire changer, and one of those two other times she crewed for Conor Daly, the driver she is supporting this race weekend. He drives No.25 United States Air Force Andretti Autosport Honda, and she is the right rear tire changer. Although the rear tires are a bit heavier, and bigger than the fronts, Mace prefers the rears as they are easier to grab/pull. She works full-time for Andretti in the Indy Lights program where she is a mechanic, which she really likes. Mace enjoys working with young drivers, and she can also ‘have a life.’ She and the team have been using the Andretti ‘Pit’ Car for Pit Stop practice this week. As she is only a part-time crew for over-the-wall duties, she doesn’t have an extensive work-out regimen; but she does do shoulder work and relies on her muscle memory.
Mace comes from a family of racers, including her grandfather. She has an extensive background in race officiating, which she cultivated and honed in Northern California, before being called back to work Race Control with Pro Series such as Grand Am. She has been a mechanic for some years, and has been over-the-wall in more than a few other races, including Le Mans with the Ganassi Ford program.
The IndyCar Observers had their morning meeting in the garages, and then Race Control had its meeting. Included in that was Sarah Fisher, who is the Official Pace Car Driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the 2019 Corvette Long Beach Red Grand Sport Pace Car to start the race. Once he peels off, Fisher will take over for the race duration.
Firestone Tires will be with IndyCar through 2025. This race weekend will mark the 70th Indy 500 victory for Firestone.
Drivers and their helmets. They each have their own style and providers. What they all have in common is deflectors – the thin plastic across the top used to deflect wind flow and keep the helmet from buffeting. It steadies the driver’s head. With the advent of the new AFP (Advanced Frontal Protection) device it changed the air flow onto the drivers. Different drivers utilize the device in different ways. It is integral to the helmet, and the driver works with his helmet provider to get suitable preferences.