Perhaps the major activity Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the open meeting for the drivers in the 96th Indianapolis 500 mile race. It was held in the sunny pit lane. Traditionally this is where awards from the previous year’s Indy 500 are presented. Fans sat in the overlooking grandstands, cheering on their favorite driver during introductions. Media members not down on the ground were lined up in the Media Center along the large glass wall overlooking the fun. The proceedings were also being shown on one of the several different TV feeds on the monitors in the Press Room.

SUSIE WHELDON, widow of last year’s Indy 500 winner, and team co-owner BRYAN HERTA accepted DAN WHELDON’s Baby Borg trophy and received a standing ovation from all present. She also received the Louis Meyer Award in honor of Dan’s victory, presented by the American Dairy Association. Meyer was the driver who started the milk-drinking tradition in Victory Circle – in 1936.

Indy 500 Rookie JOSEF NEWGARDEN received his Champion’s ring for winning last year’s Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 race at IMS. He also was presented with his 2011 Firestone Indy Lights Series championship ring.

DARIO FRANCHITTI received his 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship ring.

Speaking of rings, all 33 drivers received Indy 500 starter rings, as did Pace Car driver, celebrity chef, GUY FIERI.

Randy Bernard
Randy Bernard

ANDY GRANATELLI presented the Unsung Hero Award to RANDY BERNARD, Chief Executive Officer of INDYCAR.

BEAUX BARFIELD, IndyCar president of competition, ended the meeting. He outlined the two major changes for this year’s race, which had already been presented to the drivers in their official closed meeting Friday. There was some discussion Friday afternoon after Carb Day final practice regarding the new rules – didn’t seem like everyone was pleased. All restarts will be single file, and lapped cars will be moved to the back of the field for the final 20 laps of the race.