Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brickyard Flyer

By now most of you are (Painfully) aware that I recently traveled to Indianapolis to ride aboard Sinden Racing’s two seater and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to capture the true flavour of this. Nevertheless I’ll try to recount this BLEEPING AWESOME Experience.

With my ride being pushed back to 2:15PM from its original time of 1PM, I had a leisurely morning, sauntering over to a completely empty Brickyard Crossing restaurant. The waitress serving me seemed most impressed that I’d flown from Seattle just to ride around the track. When I asked her how the weekend had gone, she replied that it was lousy. Sheila claimed that they’d only served 500 for breakfast instead of the usual 1,000 per morning they have during the Brickyard 400 weekend.

My personal tour guide (Danny B) arrived at 12:30PM and we hung about talking’ shop. Prior to leaving for the Speedway Danny made a wonderful suggestion. Saying why don’t we give one of the limited first edition No Fenders T-Shirts I’d brought along to Davey Hamilton… (My Two Seater chauffer)

Making the five minute drive around the corner, I’m always amazed how the Speedway sits nestled in the middle of town with four roads and housing flanking its sides. Along with being able to simply drive underneath the track into the infield.

We were directed towards the far end of the track, being directed by various “Yellow Shirts.” (IMS employees) Who seemed most determined to make us walk thru the dirt ‘N dust of construction on our way to check-in. Which was pretty damn cool since we had to report to the Formula 1 garages. Wonder which F1 teams had resided here during the past eight years.

Arriving early, the three kind ladies at the check-in table handed me a pile of forms to sign. While filling out the 43 pages of various waivers, Danny explained in brilliant legal-ease… These simply state that Racing Cars are DANGEROUS!!! Then they gave me a credential pass to wear and told me to just hang out until I heard my name called.

And it appeared we were in a single F1 garage, which are quite spacious since there were three racing cars parked inside. Including both of the Two Seaters with my hoped for mount. The Canadian Club chassis sitting nearest me, then Danny noticed Davey Hamilton sitting behind the check-in table, saying let’s go give him the shirt. Danny introduces me before I casually handed Davey the T-Shirt While Danny explained No Fenders was all about Open Wheel Racing. NO RASSCAR! To which Davey got a chuckle out of.

Telling him I was from Seattle, Davey started naming off 8-9 various tracks he’d race Sprint Cars on in the Northwest… Which unfortunately I’d never heard of since I traditionally don’t follow “Sprinter’s.” (Although a gentleman from Mount Vernon, WA just won his first World ‘O Outlaws event)

Then a little later on Danny asked Davey if he could take a picture of us with our No Fenders T-Shirts Davey was the consummate gentleman, giving us gobs of his time. As we discussed his exploits of running Indy with Davey saying he’s still trying to put something together with this year’s Indy sponsor Hewlett Packard. As he’d be doing some promotional work with them later this fall.

Reportedly Davey landed the HP sponsorship after giving one of their executives a ride in the Two Seater. As Hamilton had been trying to put together a deal to return to the Speedway for over two years and although it wasn’t his best finish, Davey finished ninth in this years marathon Indy 463.

Needing to leave us to change into his drivers overall’s. Davey told me he’d wear the shirt today while driving. (Yeah right!) So I broke into a large grin when I noticed Davey walking out to the pit lane. Driver’s suit on with sleeves tied around the waist and sporting the No Fenders T-Shirt!

Then it was my turn to get suited up as they called my name. Asking me what size shoes I wore, the lady replied we don’t have any at the moment. We’ll have to get you some. She then handed me a Nomex Driver’s suit to put on behind the small enclosed tent which served as the changing room. And shortly I was donning full fledged racing apparel for the very first time. Yet it seemed very comical to be walking about the F1 garage in a Driver’s suit and socks…

After finally putting on the racing boots I ventured out onto the hot grid behind pit lane and suddenly I understood why racing teams use awnings everywhere they go. As it was quite warm out in the sunshine, being 92 degrees. Fortunately the humidity was very mild and there was a nice light breeze blowing. Nevertheless its warm walking about in Nomex, so I quickly got underneath the large awning with the rest of my anxiously awaiting participants.

Casually standing about the first Two Seater took off with a passenger. But after the first few rides, the track went silent. And then a very long pause as I noticed some of the service trucks taking off, driving back and forth to get equipment. And more time passed as we all stood patiently in our matching driver’s suits.

Then while I walked out onto pit lane to have my picture taken again with Davey Hamilton, this time in front of the Canadian Club car by one of the IMS photography staff. The other participants were called together to explain what was happening.

Unfortunately one of the Two Seaters had suffered a mechanical failure and they were down to a single “stretched” chassis. So in-state volunteers were being asked for. Who is willing to defer their ride to either a different date or venue? With the rest of us getting into line for rides that afternoon

Standing eighth in line, Mike, who was in front of me explained that the stricken Two Seater had apparently suffered engine trouble as the driver had heard a large bang in the corner. Shut off the lump immediately. And upon smelling oil pulled off into the grass and said we’re getting outta here! This left a large patch of oil on the track surface which required clean-up before proceeding, which had caused our delay.
To continue reading, see; Brickyard Flyer (Part 2)