It’s hot, hazy and muggy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500. At 11:30 local time the ambient temperature is 86 F, the track temperature is 108 F and the breeze is nil. The crowds are large and started arriving early. People everywhere, gawking, gaping, and jostling for position. Lots of bare bodies and tattoos. A few brave men wearing neon Pink Lloyd HER shirts in support of ALEX LLOYD/No.99 Chip Ganassi Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Lloyd starts eleventh Lots of other team and driver affiliated apparel is sported.

It was a veritable Who’s Who in the garage and pit lane.

Among those part of the scene seen in one quick sweep of the garage: GIL de FERRAN, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, TOMMY KENDALL, VICKI O’CONNOR, LYN ST JAMES, and to keep it lively – a Scottish bagpiper band.

Kendall, who hasn’t spectated at Indy since 1994, had been headed to Charlotte for the NASCAR weekend – to pay off a bet. He was persuaded by his old pal, PAUL TRACY/No.15 KV Racing Technology, to divert his flight to Indianapolis. PT wanted TK to be his spotter. Kendall declined, too long on his feet (which pain him after his horrific accident during an IMSA race years ago.) PT wheedled and tried to persuade TK to run the pit board. Tracy settled for TK rooting for him in the suites. Kendall last raced at IMS in the 1998 IROC race.

Kendall must be really pleased he’s at Indy instead of Charlotte, where it’s pouring.

Tracy, who starts thirteenth, will have C.R. CREWS as his spotter. At IMS, IRL requires two spotters per driver – one in Turn One to cover from Turn Four around to Turn Three. The other spotter is in Turn Three, covering from Turn One to Turn Four.

Tracy’s team owner, JIMMY VASSER, said he selects spotters based on experience. Some of his spotters are Indy-only specialists. Vasser himself has been a spotter, last year for WILL POWER at a Homestead rest. Vasser said it was a long, hot day.

TONY KANAAN/No.11 Andretti Green Racing – also known as TK – has DAVE REININGER as his spotter. Reininger is the only journalist I know who also spots on a regular basis. He’s been doing it for years for a variety of teams. Kanaan starts sixth in the race.

Twelve team owners are Race Strategists this weekend.

During a media conference, ABC TV broadcaster, MARTY REID, selected MARIO MORAES/No.5 KV Racing Technology as a dark horse to win the race. He said team owner Vasser “saw something in him.” Moraes starts seventh.

I asked Vasser what he saw in Moraes. Vasser said he watched Moraes last year, racing with DALE COYNE, and how comfortable he became in the car and on ovals. The 19-year old Brazilian came from three years in go-karts and a year in the British F3 International Series. Vasser was really impressed with the season’s finale race at Chicagoland, where Moraes worked his way up and was running with the big guys. They talked in Vasser’s motor home that weekend, and throughout the winter, putting together a commercial package.

Vasser said he was sorry to lose WILL POWER and ORIOL SERVIA at the end of last season, but when the Indy Racing League decided not to race any longer in Australia, the Team Australia sponsorship went away. Both of the drivers have one-off rides for the Indy 500. Power is running the third Penske car, No.12 Team Penske, starting ninth and Servia is running No. 17 Rahal Letterman, and will start twenty-fifth.

Vasser has been working with Moraes, and has him ‘running with the Penske guys.’ That means when the Penske guys leave the pits, so does Moraes, blending in and keeping up with them. Vasser has been pleased with how Moraes has done.

Two drivers have wives awaiting deliveries today: ED CARPENTER/No.20 Vision Racing – starting seventeenth, and Lloyd. SAMANTHA LLOYD is due any moment, and has been told by her doctor to stay off her feet. But nothing will keep her from being in the pits for the race. All the medical staff in the Clarian Medical Center have been advised and are at the ready, and her obstetrician is up in the grandstands, cell phone turned on.

Lloyd said his wife had a long 28-hour labor with their first child, AVA, so if Sam’s labor starts during the race, he doesn’t want to be told so he can focus on the race. And then he’ll dash off to wherever, saying “just open the gates. My car is faster than anything else.”

I have MARCO ANDRETTI/No.26 Andretti Green Racing in the Media Center pool. So if he’s first, second or first out, I win.