Gasoline Alley

The weather was iffy and changeable Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Day Six of the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. It had briefly rained hard late Wednesday night as part of a thunderstorm with a spectacular lightning show. But, by Thursday morning, all that remained were a few parking lot puddles. The IZOD IndyCar series does not run in the rain, so weather forecasting is a fine art.

The morning started humid and sultry with only a listless breeze. When the six-hour practice session opened at noon, it was already 75 degrees and climbing. Thankfully, the breeze picked up, but the cloud cover moved in.

Gasoline Alley was busy with cars getting ready for the afternoon, going through Technical Inspection, putting cars back together, tweaking setups, etc.

Buddy Lazier
Buddy Lazier

Weighing on the scales, BUDDY LAZIER/Lazier Partners Chevrolet is getting closer to being on course. Lazier is at the track with his father, 1981 Indy 500 driver, BOB LAZIER, and younger brother, JACQUES. The car, which is the one driven last year by JEAN ALESI with a Lotus engine, has been prepped at RON HEMELGARN’s shop with crew chief DENNIS LACAVA. Bob said the plan is for Buddy to go out mid-afternoon, to dial in the car. Buddy has driven 75,000 miles or so at The Brickyard, so he’s comfortable and relaxed. Last year Buddy coached Alesi, which started the wheels in motion (pun intended) for Buddy’s 2013 ride. And if all goes according to plan, next year’s Jacques will also drive.

Elsewhere, while awaiting the noon Green Flag, drivers are signing autographs. The Speedway is such an ingrained part of the Indianapolis history that it seemed as though every school kid in town was on a field trip. The Pit Lane fences were lined with students taking photos and getting signatures, from drivers such as CONOR DALY/A.J.Foyt Enterprises Honda, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, and ORIOL SERVIA/Panther DRR Chevrolet.

Conor Daly

James Hinchcliffe

James Hinchcliffe

Eleven minutes into the Thursday practice session, I felt a rain drop – one and only. By that time the Yellow Flag was already out, pausing the session for nine minutes. The few cars on course pitted, and sat it out, including SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/Dragon Racing Chevrolet. The teams quickly moved to turn over their tires, putting the chrome sides face down “so they wouldn’t have to polish off the rain drops.” Rain (and wind) flaps were installed on the pit boxes. But no one ran for cover. Despite a closed umbrella sighting here and there, none were open.

Penske Crew rotating tires

Panther Crew Hanging Pit Box Rain Flap

Sebastien Bourdais waiting

Last Modified on May 16, 2013
This entry was posted in IndyCar
Bookmark this article SETTING UP SIX