Dakota & James Hinchcliffe
Kathy, Dakota & Michael
final practice for the Indianapolis 500 is held the Friday morning prior to
Sunday’s race and is known as “Carb Day”, even though Indy cars haven’t
actually had carburetors in decades. Some traditions are just hard to shake.
Carb Day these days includes the final one hour practice for the Indy Cars, the
Freedom 100 Indy Lights race, the traditional pit stop competition and finally
the carb day concert which this year featured Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Josef Newgarden & Dakota
Dan & Rubens Barichello
has not been able to attend the race or any of the weekends’ events for the
past few years due to commitments from work, but this year her new job at Caligo
Ventures allowed her to arrive in plenty of time to attend pre-race events such
as carb day. I on the other hand have been attending carb day for over forty
straight years and have seen it change dramatically in that time. It has become
much more of a party scene with a lot of drinking and heavy partying that is
probably the closest thing there is to the old days of the turn one snake-pit
party scene of the 70s and 80s.
Dakota & James Hinchcliffe
Kevin & Pat
an actual race fan, I had little interest in the drunken party scene. I have my
own ritual of going out, meeting with friends, watching the practice and Indy
Lights race and then getting the heck out of there before things get too ugly.
This year Kathy & I were joined by our friend Dakota, who was making her
first trip to the Speedway.
Kathy & Dakota
Pat, Michael, Dakota & Kathy
had done her homework, checking out the driver profiles and already hoping to
get to meet some specific drivers including the handsome and charming young
James Hinchcliffe. With the credentials, access and experience that I have at
the track, it was pretty easy to make that happen. As we drove in and parked in
the media lot with the special media parking pass we had secured from a friend
and arrived just in time for the mandatory drivers meeting in the media center
only a few feet from our parking spot.
Dakota & Ryan Briscoe
were able to meet Hinchcliffe and a number of other drivers as they entered the
meeting before we even headed back in to the garage area where we were able to
get up close and personal with the cars, teams and drivers as they prepared to
practice. We wondered through the garage area checking things out and watching
preparation. Next we walked over to the IMS museum where we checked out the
wonderful display of historic Indy 500 cars, including the car that the late
Dan Wheldon drove to victory last year.
Dan Wheldon's 2011 Winner
the practice session, we headed over to the Tower Terrace to watch practice
with my friends Pat & Kevin, who make carb day an annual tradition as well.
It was cool because I was able to take Dakota down in to the pits while the
cars were practicing, which is a pretty cool experience just in itself, one
that gives you a feel for the real power of these cars. In the pits, I ran
across a few more friends including my friend Jason who is on Dario Franchitti’s
pit crew and my friends Kate (EJ Viso) and Lindy (Ed Carpenter) also have close
connections to teams.
Kathy, Jason & Dakota
stayed in the pits through the end of practice before heading back to the
stands to watch the Indy Lights race, which was pretty exciting. Estaban
Guerrieri won the race after an exciting five car battle and just about as soon
as the checkered flag flew, we were headed out of the speedway, weaving through
the already drunken fans who were preparing for the Lynard Skynyrd concert
which we had no desire to see. It wasn’t so much the band that I was resistant
to but the huge unruly mostly drunken crowd filled with a sea of Confederate
flags and Budweiser beer.
Pat & Ryan Briscoe