If the temperatures reach above 92 degrees F, it will be a new track record for the Indianapolis 500 race at The Brickyard. While Firestone only recorded a 91 degrees F-ambient, it seemed much warmer; and I had to get inside after just an hour on the pre-grid. Smart folks stood in the shadow of the Trylon, or on the shady side of the pit cars.
The Borg-Warner Trophy, trophy for winning the Indianapolis 500, was on display on the pre-grid. The winning driver’s visage is engraved onto the trophy, and a Baby Borg goes to the winner.
On the way to the pits, I had to pass the Red Carpet. Yes, there was a star/celebrity walk, lined with all the local TV stations and lifestyle photographers. There were a few notables on the Pre Grid, but not as many as could have been. They were probably hiding out in air-conditioned chalets and hospitality suites.
I did see a couple of the Andretti family – ALDO, MARIO’s brother; and JOHN, Mario’s nephew; and they were keeping company with JEFF SIMMONS. A very refreshed SCOTT PRUETT, Grand-Am driver/champion for CHIP GANASSI, was walking through the area, schmoozing here and there. Another Grand-Am driver, MAX ANGELLELI, was also threading his way between the eleven rows of race cars. I didn’t see him, but was told Grand-Am team owner, ROB DYSON, was also on site.
There were no Indy 500 drivers to be seen during the Pre-Race ceremonies, and their cars were covered with umbrellas and heat reflecting covers. Of all the drivers with whom I chatted, none said they would be wearing a cool suit during the warm race. They utilized a variety of low-tech strategies to keep hydrated, starting with the day and night before. Some use a cold wet towel on their neck before they start. They all have drink bottles in the car, and most are iced to start. But it doesn’t last. And it can’t be refilled during a pit stop – no time. Every driver has a favorite drink, mostly energy drinks or water. They all seemed to have a good understanding of the hydration processes.
E.J. VISO of Colombia/KVR Technology Chevrolet has allergies, so the hot, windy weather exacerbates that. His race trick for keeping cool is to drink half a gallon of the Andretti sponsor’s hydrating drink, Red Rain, with coconut water, and to breath a lot during the race. He says one glass of coconut water equals two bananas, for potassium intake. Viso also takes advantage of the resting time during cautions = valuable time. Viso also is wearing a new Sparco driver’s suit. It is very thin, so he can feel the wind.