By Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 15, 2011) – Rain washed out practice for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
Rain fell steadily on the Speedway throughout this morning, and IZOD IndyCar Series officials canceled the day’s track activities at 1:08 p.m. (ET).
It is only the third time in four years that an Indianapolis 500 practice day has been completely rained out. Rain washed out practice on Monday May 17, 2010 and prior to that on Thursday, May 8, 2008.
DAY 2 NOTEBOOK:
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts visited the track today.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt and 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones talked about their memories of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” today. This is the 50th anniversary of Foyt’s first victory, in 1961.
A.J. FOYT: (On the Indianapolis 500): “I always say, to win this race you have to have everything go your way. I don’t care who you are or anything. Everything’s just got to fall in line. If it doesn’t, then you’re not going to win.”(About Tony Hulman and family): “Well, the way I look at Mr. Hulman is it wasn’t just what he did for here. It was what he did for everybody. I’m talking about drivers and fans and everything. He just could not do enough for the race drivers. He made it safer than you possibly could do. The Hulman-George’s have been great here. Tony George and them came up with the (SAFER) walls. So, just like Ray Harroun with the rear-view mirror, so much stuff has happened here before it really came out on the market. You know, Tony and Mr. Joe Cloutier, they just couldn’t do enough for the fans and all that. You couldn’t have met finer people than the Hulmans and Georges.” (Comparing competition from his 1961 ‘500’ victory to today): “Back then you come to the race and you had 80 to 100 cars and you had your chief mechanic. You didn’t have all the factories in it. It was just a different kind of combination than it is today. I mean, it was a hard combination. It was very competitive. You had to build and make everything yourself. Most of the mechanics today are just ‘R and R,’ remove and replace. Back then, you designed it, built it and then you tried it.” (On driving the Pace Car and possibly staying out on the track to break Mario Andretti’s record of most laps led): “Hell, yeah. Records are made to be broken. That’s the reason they set records.”
PARNELLI JONES: (On Tony Hulman): “He was a perfect gentleman. I can remember him picking up A.J. and I and making us go out and do some promotional work for the races. He was that kind of guy. He was just very pleasant to be around, and he certainly played a great part in developing the Speedway. If it wasn’t for him, the Speedway might not even be here. He was really one of my past heroes.” (On the future of the Indianapolis 500): “I was looking at these new cars over here, and I can see it’s definitely going somewhere. You know, aerodynamics and electronics on all the new cars have changed a whole lot in racing. It’s not the same. It’s not going back. So where are they going from here? It’s beyond me. That’s like saying, where are we going with aerodynamics or anything like that? They’re reaching for maximums. These cars probably have so much downforce, they could run upside down at 150 miles per hour.” (About Foyt driving the Pace Car this year): “He can handle it, I think. I’m sure he’s going to want to stay out there.”
Dragon Racing drivers Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung passed the time today during the rain delay by having their faces painted with the team’s logo during a visit to the Indy 500 Kids Club in the Gasoline Alley Suites.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon talked about his memories of racing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time, in 2003. Dixon is from Auckland, New Zealand.
SCOTT DIXON: “Coming from New Zealand, we are a long ways away and probably more European-orientated as far as Formula One. For everybody around the world, everybody knows there is one major race – the Indianapolis 500. Growing up as a kid, I always watched the race on TV, even in little New Zealand. In the early days, I hoped to be able to grow up and maybe being able to compete in some of these races. But the whole reality of achieving that was probably next to nil. I had been living here (United States) since 1999, and to actually come here in 2002 with Ganassi to watch Kenny (Brack) and Bruno (Junqueira), to see the spectacle itself as far as how many people come to the event, how massive it is, how the city changes; that’s when you get the realistic side of the race. The speed of the cars, just hearing the crowd roar, is pretty special. To be able to come here and be lucky enough to compete in 2003 was definitely a dream come true. It’s obviously kind of mind-boggling to look back and remember that I had watched these races on TV in New Zealand, so far away, and then to actually be competing in it. And that year we actually led laps. It was pretty cool. It’s a special place that demands a lot of respect from drivers. You’re always on edge as a driver, and it can bite you pretty quick. When you do well here, it rewards you tremendously. The coolest thing about this place is the history. Obviously celebrating the Centennial year, to know people have been doing this for 100 years, is the greatest thing in sporting history. To be one of 67 drivers who have won this race is a very proud moment.”
Conquest Racing rookie Pippa Mann talked today about her impressions of the Indianapolis 500 and driving an IZOD IndyCar Series car. Mann is from Ipswich, England.
PIPPA MANN: “In England, nearly everybody has heard of the Indy 500, but strangely enough the race isn’t that big of a deal to everyone in England. It’s on a par to the Formula One race in Monaco, the most prestigious race of the year. It’s viewed in the UK as just a big race. Until I actually came here and saw IMS for the first time, I didn’t quite get it. Only when I ran on it for the first time in an Indy Lights car did I understand what this place was all about. I think Indianapolis was how I imagined an oval would look like. It’s pretty much a flat oval and very interesting to drive. While the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the biggest and fastest speedway we go to, it takes so many things from oval racing and from road racing, so it’s very interesting. It is a track that takes from both disciplines, and that’s why you have drivers who are the best at both disciplines who excel at this track.” (About driving an IZOD IndyCar Series car): “The Indy car feels like a bigger version of the Indy Lights car. At the moment, we are fighting a little bit of a handling issue, and yet as a rookie I’m supposed to be totally phased and spooked by this. However, because of my experience in the Indy Lights car, I know it’s just doing that (mishandling) a bit, and we’re supposed to be able to fix it. It (Indy Lights) has really helped my comfort level, how I’ve adapted to the car and how comfortable I am when the car moves around. Not that I’m going to be that comfortable when it moves around because, if you make a mistake, this place can make you pay for it pretty badly. In an Indy car, there is so much more to do than just drive the car. I have all these buttons, levers and knobs that I’m meant to play with and moving around all the time. I’m just now getting into that. I’ve run 50 laps here now in an Indy car, and that’s not even the equivalent of a full day’s running, so I’m on a little bit of a learning curve right now.” (About the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500): “When I was with Panther Racing as an Indy Lights driver, we started getting into the 100th Anniversary festivities. That was when it really dawned on me how big this event really is. And then seeing everything ramp up over the past two years, the increased interest, the increased spectacle, it’s really, really cool to be a part of it now.”
Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Charlie Kimball talked today about his Indianapolis 500 experience so far.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: (On the whether the weather conditions change his plans): “I don’t know that it changes too much. The whole week of practice, we’ve got a little more miles than we do tires and more time. There’s a bit of cushion built in for weather. You just have to stay patient and calm and deal with it as it goes.” (On his confidence as a rookie racing for Chip Ganassi): “Well, racing for the whole Chip Ganassi organization gives me a huge amount of confidence. I’ve got two former winners and former champions to learn from and a guy who has done this race four times to learn from, as well. There’s a lot information for me to take in if I need it and want it. Around here, I’m just trying to be a sponge and soak it up as much as possible.”
The three four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 – A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser – are starting from the front row of “The Greatest 33” after earning the most votes from Indianapolis 500 fans worldwide.
Racing fans selected their dream lineup of the 33 greatest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history from March 18-May 14 at thegreatest33.com. The top 33 drivers in the balloting were revealed Sunday, May 15 during practice for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
Foyt, the first four-time winner, earned the highest score of any driver, followed by Mears and Unser.
Occupying the second row are three-time winners Bobby Unser, Helio Castroneves and Johnny Rutherford. 1969 winner Mario Andretti, three-time winner Wilbur Shaw and two-time winner Bill Vukovich are in the third row.
Three current Indianapolis 500 competitors are among The Greatest 33, Helio Castroneves (fifth), Dario Franchitti (19th) and Scott Dixon (33rd).
The Greatest 33 program and its interactive website are key components of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at IMS.
To view the entire “The Greatest 33,” visit either thegreatest33.com or http://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/indy500/news/show/42810-four-time-and-39-500and-39-winners-foyt-mears-unser-lead-and-39-the-greatest-33and-39/
IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power and his Team Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves talked about today’s lack of track activity.
WILL POWER: “It’s unfortunate for us and for the fans that the rain kept us from getting on track today. The No. 12 Verizon Team Penske guys worked a bit late yesterday afternoon taking the engine out of our T car and putting it in our race car. We were planning on shaking that car down today and then getting started on our process. We will be ready to go tomorrow, and I am excited to get on track and get the Verizon car up to speed.”
RYAN BRISCOE: “I was really looking forward to getting back in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske car today to continue checking items off our list, but the weather just wouldn’t cooperate with us. My engineer, Eric Cowdin, and I were able to spend some time talking about what we’d like to accomplish when we do get back out there. I feel bad for the fans, especially. There were a lot of people here at the Speedway looking forward to seeing some cars on track today.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES: “It’s really too bad that we didn’t get a chance to run today in the Shell V-Power Pennzoil Ultra car. We did get to spend some more time with the fans today, and that was great. It’s one of the cool things about racing here in Indianapolis – even though it rained all day, there were still a lot of people out here. We look forward to putting on a good show for them the rest of the month.”
Indianapolis 500 veteran Townsend Bell talked today about racing with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in this year’s race. Bell has become a “one off” specialist, finishing in the top 10 twice in the last three years in entries fielded just for the Indianapolis 500.
TOWNSEND BELL: (On how prepared and successful he has been with one-off efforts at the Indianapolis 500): “I spend basically every day of the year thinking about this race. I try to take everything we’ve learned in years past and apply that to the future. That includes preparation both for me and just working with the team to make sure we’ve got everything we need to do a good job. This year’s no exception. We feel like we’ve got a great program. Herbalife 24 and Sam Schmidt Motorsports, everybody’s worked hard to make sure we’ve got a nice car out there. I’m anxious to see what it’s like.”
2009 Chase Rookie of the Year Alex Tagliani today unveiled the helmet paint design that he will use in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
ALEX TAGLIANI: “We knew some time ago that we were going to do a helmet for Indy, but when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced they wanted to bring all the past winners back, that triggered the idea first of all to have the Borg-Warner Trophy on the helmet and all the past winners, as well. For me, this is a great piece to remember being a part of this 100th anniversary of the race and to be one of the drivers that is a part of it. It’s basically the same helmet we’ve run all year with the addition of the trophy and the names of all the past winners.” (About drivers’ unique helmets): “The helmet is the piece that represents us. Most of the people see us in the cockpit, and in an open cockpit, they see the driver’s helmet. It shows who you are, your identity, what you like — your style, basically.”
MONDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times local):
Indianapolis 500 practice
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27. The race will be televised live by VERSUS.