Pit Lane Bridge

It’s another hot and sunny Saturday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The paddock is full of fans and wacky things. After all, it is Southern California. One gauge I use for the crowd size is how difficult it is to maneuver in the common paddock areas. Not easy this morning. More people to dodge than yesterday. One thing I’ve never understood is how parents can let their children wander around without ear protection, of any kind.

IZOD IndyCar’s third and final practice is at 10:40am PDT/1:40pm EDT. So, the IndyCar paddock is nearly deserted as the teams and drivers are making/have made their way to Pit Lane.

Josef Newgarden's car
Josef Newgarden’s car

There is a flurry of activity up and down Pit Lane. Some IndyCar teams are practicing changing tires. Everyone has a task, be it sorting and arranging the spare tires, fueling, data capture, or attending to the driver’s coolness with clever fan devices and the old stand-by, umbrellas. It’s cooler Saturday morning. Firestone tire engineers have the ambient temperature at 63F/17C and the track at 96F/36. To my mind, it feels a lot hotter than that. Another hat and sunblock day.

Michael Jourdain
Michael Jourdain
MICHEL JORDAIN of Mexico City was in Pit Lane, and confirmed that he is working with BOBBY RAHAL for a ride in this year’s Indianapolis 500. He’s hoping for an announcement in a couple of weeks.

The Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race pole was won by pole sitter ‘Celebrity’ RUTLEDGE WOOD, known for his wacky motorsports coverage on the American version of ‘Top Gear.’ Starting behind the fourteen Celebrity drivers are the four ‘Pro’Drivers. TYLER CLARY, the 2012 Olympic swimming gold medalist who wants to go racing, has that pole position. While Clary is still swimming competitively, he’s put his money where his mouth is and is following up on last year’s declaration that he wants to race. He’s gone through several Skip Barber courses. The other three Pro drivers, in order, are ANDY BELL, motocross champion; ADAM CAROLLA, last year’s Celebrity winner; and MELANIE TROXEL, NHRA Nitro Funny Cars.

In an curious coincidence, a copy of the early Sunday edition of the local Long Beach Press-Telegram was in the Media Center. The front page has a big headline “Soaking Up A Win” and photograph of Wood being doused with lots of water bottles. As I’m reading it, wondering how it can be that the paper is out so quickly with the news (never mind what is the date on the paper) when Wood was at that very moment still in the Interview Room, carrying forth about his victory. Turns out the much smaller photo caption indicates it was taken Friday after Wood got the pole position. Serendipity.

The Media Center monitors showed a preview Saturday morning of this summer’s DreamWorks animated movie “about the Indianapolis 500. Outside the MC there are high pitched and low rumbling car sounds, mingled with all the set-off alarms from cars in the parking lot next to track, all reverberating off all the concrete walls and barriers. Gotta love street races.

Marilyn & Elvis