95th 500 Mile International Sweepstakes
June 1, 2011
95th 500 Mile International Sweepstakes
Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe & Will Power
The celebration of the Centennial Indianapolis 500 actually is only the 95th actual running of the race itself, the track was shut down during both WW I & WW II and used by the military during those times so that no race was run. This means that after this year, I will have witnessed 41% of all the races run in the past 100 years, which seems like a lot. It never gets old for me. The traditions that mark the run up to the start of the race are as some of the most poignant and meaningful moments that one could possibly witness.
There has been little variation in the years that I have attended, the singing of “God Bless America” by Florence Henderson, the invocation that always recalls the soldiers lost defending our country and in honor of memorial day, the playing of “Taps” , the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Jim Nabors, the release of the multicolored balloons, the National Anthem and military flyover, the command for “Ladies and Gentleman, Start Your Engines” and finally the flying start of the race all combine for an unforgettable tableau that really needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
“Taps” & “Back Home Again In Indiana”
Dan & Crash Gladys
My friend Dan & I lingered courtesy of our pit passes as long as possible, watching the mingling of the celebrities, the cars being brought to the starting grid and finally the drivers making their way out to the grid to get ready for the start of the race. It was an exhilarating experience. There are always a number of celebrities at the race, some have a more direct involvement like Ashley Judd who is married to driver Dario Franchitti and David Letterman who is a part owner of one of the teams. Others are there just to take in the excitement or for sponsor commitments or who are just invited to appear by the Speedway.
Kellie Pickler & Jim Nabors
I headed over to my seats high in Turn 3, where I met three of my nephews who I had invited to join me for the race in time to experience the final pre-race festivities and to witness the start of the race. It is one of the most exciting moments in sports when the 33 starters barrel down into turn one and even though this year’s start was a spread out terrible mess, all the cars made it through the first lap and the race was on.
CSI Miami's Omar Miller
It was another hot day, though there was a steady breeze that made it seem much better than last year’s scorching heat. The race was really good and the new double wide restarts after cautions added a lot of excitement. The teammates of Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon dominated most of the race, but differing fuel strategies scrambled things for what was perhaps the craziest final 20 laps in the history of the race. In the last few laps it looked at times as though Franchitti, Dixon, Danica Patrick or Bertrand Baguette might win the thing, but all faded after late pit stops leaving rookie JR Hildebrand in the lead with 2 and a half laps left.
Pat & Jerome
He seemed to be cruising to victory coming around turn four on the final lap to a wildly cheering throng when he went too high on the final turn passing slowing fellow rookie Charlie Kimball and crashed into the wall 200 yards from the finish. Though he kept his foot on the gas and drove his mangled car across the finish line, it was mere moments later that Dan Wheldon passed him to lead the final 100 yards of 500 miles and steal an amazing victory.
Chip Ganassi,Ashley Judd, Dario Franchitti & Scott & Emma Dixon
It was an incredible finish to a fantastic race and it reminded me yet again of why I so love attending this event. After 100 years of thrills, excitement, tragedy and heartbreak, the Indianapolis 500 remains my favorite annual event and I can’t wait to return next year for my 40th race.
The Spirit of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway