Empty Pit Lane

The revised schedule 11am start for Indianapolis 500 practice came and went with no track activity except a fleet of IMS emergency SUV’s lapping the course, and the jet dryer in Pit Lane. So much for the Rookie Orientation Program for JAMES DAVISON/No.33 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, and so much for him being joined by BUDDY LAZIER/No.98 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet for his ‘refresher.’ The two are on ‘short’ programs, with abbreviated practice days. Not that they’ve missed much, so far. One Race Control denizen said there hasn’t been this much rain/lost practice time in the last five Indy 500’s.

At 12:15pm local time, DERRICK WALKER, IndyCar President of Competition, said the originally revised plan has obviously been on hold, pending weather. The plan is that whenever the track is ready, Davison and Lazier will get thirty minutes for their respective programs. It is anticipated that they will complete and be allowed to practice with the field. If there is sufficient track time during the afternoon, there may not be a need to run until the extended 7pm time.

At 12:48pm local time, the first car went on course and it was JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.2 Verizon Team Penske, followed by a large field including Rookie KURT BUSCH/No.26 Andretti Autosport Honda. Evidently he was able to fly in from Charlotte NC, despite its bad weather. The countdown clock on the IndyCar Leaderboard indicate there are five hours remaining, meaning checkered flag at 6pm. There still has been no word on where are the two Thursday drivers. However, around 2pm teammate SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet will shake down Davison’s car.

The weather was not only icy cold (41-46 F) and windy, it is palpably damp, with 90 percent humidity. If one believes a smart phone weather app, the rain percentage is 12 percent, but not many are optimistic.

Takuma Sato & new helmet

TAKUMA SATO/No.14 AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda must have known how the weather would go because he scheduled a press conference for 11:30am despite the new 11am start time.

Sato unveiled his new Indy 500 helmet, which he created with his regular TS designer. It incorporates elements from his cap, as well as new themes, including red, white and blue stripes and his 14 car number, bricks, the Japanese flag, and the four Indy 500 wins by his team owner, A.J.FOYT,as well as the insignia for his personal “With you Japan” charity he founded to help the victims (especially children) of the 2011 tsunami which hit Japan. Sato will wear the helmet for Qualifying, Carb Day and the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Soon after the race, the helmet will go up for auction worldwide on eBay, with proceeds going to his charity.

Sato’s helmet has the newly mandated carbon fiber visor shield. His helmet maker is Arai, of Japan. Sato’s visor is held on with permanent fixtures, unlike another model seen last weekend, which had the visor affixed with aircraft tape. He recounted the incident during last Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis when he was hit by debris, maybe from Montoya’s car? Sato said the debris came flying by his right ear. The cockpit is relatively confining, so he couldn’t dodge much to the left, so his helmet was scraped. But the debris left a big hole in his helmet surround in the back of the cockpit.

Visor Shield grommets on Takuma Sato's helmet

Helmet Visor Shield on Takuma Sato's helmet

Top of Takuma Sato's helmet