Indianapolis Motor Speedway can experience all kinds of weather within a short period of time, and it happens suddenly. When it hits it hits. It came on so fast Monday afternoon, my iPhone hadn’t yet updated its weather status. Currently I’m ‘trapped’ in the Media Center while watching another strong rain storm come smashing through. Sheets and sheets of rain washing down the track, counter course wise. Trees bending near double and flags straight out. Thunder and lighting. These storms don’t last, but they’re wicked while ongoing. Not that there was any rubber left after Sunday night’s storm, but the track certainly will be green Thursday for the Firestone Indy Lights practice and qualifying.
Earlier Monday afternoon, it was all warm and sunny, hitting low eighties F. In Gasoline Alley, many of the teams were working on various things, some behind closed doors and some out in the welcoming sunshine. No engines are heard – that’s the rule.
The Speedway is closed to the public Monday and Tuesday, and there are no drivers anywhere in sight. All 33 of them are out and about in the US, hitting various media markets important to the Indianapolis 500 and/or other IndyCar circuits. This means those who qualified late during Sunday’s Bump Day didn’t have much time to rest, before taking off to their next destination, probably via commercial flights.
Three drivers were in New York City Monday morning. HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske, DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and DANICA PATRICK/No.7 Team GoDaddy Andretti Autosport, along with officials of the Empire State Building, ‘flipped the switch’ to turn on the lady’s lights, symbolically green for the Indy 500 green flag. Another group, with PAUL KELLY of IMS, will travel Monday morning to Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Mile – a June IndyCar race. TOWNSEND BELL/No.99 Herbalife Schmidt Palfrey Racing Sam Schmidt Motorsports will visit Las Vegas, hometown for team owner SAM SCHMIDT. That’s about as far west as the drivers go – nothing at all on the West Coast.
The Penske boys were practicing pit stops Monday afternoon with all three Team Penske crews, all under the watchful eye and stopwatch of Pit Stop Crew Coordinator, RICK RINAMAN, who also has the title of Special Projects Technician. A spare/show car dressed up in the No.3 livery is the car used for all of the practices by all three of the Penske teams – Castroneves, RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 IZOD, and WILL POWER/No.12 Verizon. The Power crew got atta boys for their 3.9 seconds run.
Watching intently from afar on their golf cart – out of earshot but in full view of the Pit Stop practices – were three Lotus crew members of E.J. VISO.
Last year Castroneves’ crew won the annual IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition. Again this year the contest will be part of the festivities Friday at Carb Day. Also that day will be the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 race.
Over in the garage of this year’s pole sitter, ALEX TAGLIANI/No.77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, it was very low key. It has been the feel-good story of the weekend, with the Canadian veteran open wheel driver joining forces with former open wheel racer turned team owner, Schmidt, who is a quadraplegic after a race crash.
Over in the garages of JAMES JAKES/No.18 Acorn Stairlifts Dale Coyne Racing, a small crew is working on the Indy 500 car, making it ready for this year’s Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition. While Jakes didn’t make the Indy 500 field, his two cars are being prepped for their next races. The Indy 500 car will go to the race at the Milwaukee Mile, while the backup car will go to the next race – at Texas Motor Speedway.
The hit and run storm has cleared. This is me leaving while the getting is good.