Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Surviving Indy (Lap 51-100)


Justin Wilson’s Dale Coyne Racing mount

Fri, 5/22 (Con’t)
Back at the Hotel I listened to the majority of the Krabitz ‘N Eddie Radio program that was being broadcasted “live” from the IMS Pagoda Pavilion on AM1070 THE FAN; later in the program they interviewed “Whale Goll-leeeeeee” Jimmy Neighbors. They also chatted with Robbie Floyd on “Hangin’ out” with Graham Rahal... Playing Golf and he was most impressed by how some Drivers know they’ve got it. (Talent) And Graham’s DEFINITELY GOT IT!

Originally before arriving, my plan was to meet Jeff at Kurt Cavin’s Hamburgers ‘N Hotdogs, Err Milkshakes event Friday evening, before I pondered attending the Last Row Ball hosted by Bob Jenkins, but instead Carl “Fuller Brush” took me to Broad ripple instead to listen to the harmonious blowing ‘O Bagpipes at the Gordon Pipers Tartan Ball... As unbeknownst to Mwah, the Gordon Pipers have participated in over half of all INDY 500’s and these are the majestic Bagpipers you heard on race day if you were at the track. I also was unaware that four Gordon Pipers are situated in Victory Lane and play to the races winner upon victory, as the four Bagpipers represent good luck and there’s four for four wheels coming home...


Sitting inside the large banquet hall, my eardrums were soon pierced by the high pitched tones of several bagpipes, most notably the one standing about five feet away from me, as there were three bands on hand that night. The first from Ohio was started by an ex-Gordon Piper, with the second band being from Ingersoll, BC and the third band was the Gordon Pipers, which I’m told are referred to as the Gordon 500 Pipers during the Month ‘O May. And thus they formed the nucleus of a mass band including the first two plus the 500 Pipers...

And the master of ceremonies was an absolute hoot, as Wallace Gordon Diel (an ex-Vet nary Doctor from Ingersoll, BC) would call out; Pipe Major present yourself! Aye, and take your whiskey... Before saying; “Schlog, Schlog, Scaliwog... Drink! As apparently Bag piping includes generous doses of whiskey, before Dr. Diel would say you may now retire and tune up the rest of the Band!

Dr. Diel also explained that the two final tunes of the night were of significance as the first; Scottish Way? Was for the Drivers and the second Mary Hill? Was in honour of Mary Hulman George, but she didn’t know that...

Upon my return around 10:30PM, I called the Night Desk clerk to reserve me another Taxi for Saturday morning at 7:30AM; BUTT! I had my doubts upon his responses to my inquiry, telling me I’ll see what I can do?


Sat, 5/23
HALF DISTANCE
So incase you didn’t guess... The Taxi Cab never arrived and hence my best laid plan of seeking Princess Danicker’s (PSYCH!) NOT! As I’d been hopeful of getting Row 5, (Tracy and Wilson) Row 8 (Hamilton) Row 10 (John Andretti) and Row 11 (Tagliani) autographs in a “Perfect World!” (Order) Instead I took a nap and then awoke to turn on the Telescreen in order to catch some I500 Festival Parade action, perhaps? And by total accident I lucked into the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying replay with about 5min remaining in Q2, witnessing “Fishy-Fella” shortcut the chicane. OOPS! Sorry Fisichella, your times disallowed... After The REAL Iceman *K. Raikkonen) sets the fastest lap in Q2, ‘JENSE (Button) steals Pole in Q3 by mere tenths of a second ahead of The Kimster; who although had an extra qualifying lap in hand apparently ran wide into Turn 1 and decided it was wisest to back off and not damage the car!

Birthday Boy Rubino (R. Barrichello) was third on his 37th B-Day and shirkingly said that he wished to be two spots better tomorrow if he couldn’t have P1 on his birthday... While Jenson claimed that the final Q3 session/Pole lap had been MANIC!

Afterwards, I caught some pre-parade coverage including a great interview by Dave Calabro (The voice of the 500; PA Announcer) on Gomer Pyle, along with a short piece about whether or not Sponsorships were effective on Indy Cars in today’s economy? Claiming that a primary sponsorship, i.e.; Verizon Wireless on Will Power’s Penske would cost $2-5 million, while an Associative sponsorship, i.e.; Mobil 1, also on the Penske’s but less prominent would run you only $500,000 instead. Yet RASSCAR would cost you four times as much; $20m and the pinnacle ‘O Motorsports, Formula 1 would cost you $30-50m as a Title sponsor.



There also was a brief piece upon my Numero Uno Indy Car Driver Justin “BIG UNIT” Wilson, noting how he’s the tallest Driver in the field at six feet, three and a half inches vs. Danica’s diminutive five foot two stature. At eight years old in Go Karts (in England) he felt about twice as tall as rival competitors Dan Wheldon and Jenson Button. NO! I’m NO Good at Basketball, I can’t jump... And none other then Sir Jackie Stewart told him he was simply too tall for Motor Racing when driving for Jackie’s son at Paul Stewart Racing. Proclaiming that Justin would simply never fit into the car! And although I made my goal of getting into F1, I NEVER enjoyed it! Then there was a great example of Justin showing how his knees are virtually touching the top of the underside monocoque and when he turns the steering wheel his elbows have to go somewhere...

And speaking of “The Wee Scot” *Sir Jackie) “JENSE’s Pole and subsequent victory at Monte Carlo was the first by a British Driver since Stewart accomplished the feat in 1973 aboard a Tyrrell/Ford...

As I caught all of this while awaiting Dave & Rob’s arrival for a leisurely lunch at the Union Jack Pub just down the street... It’s a pretty cool place with lots of racing memorabilia plastered on the walls, as I was particularly intrigued by a photo of Jimmy Clark in a Cooper... And the place was packed! As you’d never have guessed there was a parade going on as I could swear I heard Ralph sheheen’s voice as we walked towards our table, where I had a good time talking Rob’s ear off ‘bout Formula 1. (OOPS Dave!)

Also, I failed to mention that prior to Graham Rahal’s Friday press conference; I was saddened to hear over the rooms loudspeaker’s a moving tribute by Bob Jenkins regarding Larry Rice’s death after his bout with lung cancer... As you can catch a recent interview by Don Kay including Rice’s pal Gary Lee on Autosport Radio.

Along with failing to discuss Lloyd Ruby’s passing, to which Dave “CARPETS” O’Brien told a great story about one day Lloyd being in the Flag Room and was unafraid to finish off the beer can pyramid that nobody was willing to attempt... In his trademark Cowboy hat and drawl; what’s goin’ on feller’s? Apprised of the situation he simply picked up a beer bottle, stepped forward, stuck it on top, said ‘dare uze go boyz and simply walked out while the Bartender looked on nervously towards the impending mess...

On the way home from Dave’s family outing, he showed me The Circle in Downtown Indianapolis, which I’d never been to before and a few blocks prior there was an Verizon Wireless shin-dig going on. As we circumnavigated the Circle for the first lap, there were a few Police cruisers with roof lights strobing in front of an Indy Car set-up as Dave said it was a Show car with a Show girl in front of it as we completed a second lap around the circle before heading back to my Speedway Hotel, where I caught some of the tape delayed I500 Festival Parade coverage and was amused to hear Derrick Daily pulling Parade duty, while it was claimed earlier in the day that some 300,000+ spectators were on hand...


Sun, 5/24; RACE DAY!
Caution-Caution-Caution...
So it’s finally hear, what countless, untold thousands clamour for each year, as Danny picked me up at 6:45AM in order to beat the traffic... And it’s sure nice having infield Media parking, eh? As another Yellow Shirt held the door open for me after checking our Badge’s and said; don’t you feel like one of the Drivers, Sir? While holding the door open... Before Danny introduced me to JMV upon arriving at the fourth floor of the Media center, with JMV retorting; we need to get you out to the races more!” After I benevolently decreed with a wry smile that I was picking Milkalicious to win... Then it was time for the unthinkable, as Danny introduced me to Open wheel Curmudgeon Extraordinaire, drum roll please... Tuh-Duh! Yeah, that’s right kiddies, you guessed it; Robin Miller in the flesh... Albeit a very brief introduction as Miller was being sought for an interview as he told the Handler that NO! He wasn’t Gordon Kirby; he’s right over there before making some jokes with us and then dashing off...

Back downstairs to the Cafeteria for a low key breakfast and while sitting alone Walt from New Jersey said out loud; No Fenders must be a Formula 1 site? As I was sporting one of my limited second edition No Fenders T-Shirts on race day... (Shameless promotion, eh?) Then Walt said he’d noticed the white cane and told me about a previous Blind Reporter who wrote a Colum called Thru Borrowed Eyes? Too bad Chris Economaki isn’t here... He’d know exactly who the person was and his name as we kibitzed about the relatively new New Jersey Motorsports Park before Walt told me to ask him for help if I needed anything upstairs. I’m in the back of the room...

As Danny returned and we shared a table with a fellow Journalist, he replied to my announcement of picking Milka to win; that’s a bold pick... To which Danny retorted; did you mean bold or BULL?

And speaking of the Media center, what an interesting room, as there’s an old style typewriter affixed to one of the 30+ rows of tables to permanently honour Mr. Economaki, as the room is fairly Spartan, reminding me of a High School classroom (minus the chalkboards...) with low grey tables and blue chairs and dim lighting conducive to the hoards of “Vurd Botchere’s,” err Word Butchers, Journalists or Hacks feverishly poondin’ away on their laptop kee-boards, as every few rows has banks of large close circuit TV’s overhead and the only noise that can be heard over their loud droning of the live ABC feed is the constant warble of the air conditioning between the howl of Indy Cars screaming by. As all of the chatter and pre-race banter seemingly turned to silence during the actual race. Of which Meesh described as being Morgue-like whilst sitting next to me while silently tapping away at her Live Blog...


Yet during the early morning hours prior to all of the race festivities, the Media center is awash with lively banter, chatter and typing noises while preparing race reports, etc. As I ponder how difficult it would be to use “Lucy” my screen reader in here while noting how HARD it is to try taking notes in the dark... While I think I can hear the very muted scream of the F1 cars over the room’s din, as Jeffrey of My Name is IRL is chatting’ with Crash Gladys of Speed Freaks... Before Danny introduces me to the ‘DAWG! As Press Dog, a.k.a. Bill Zahren is in the house... As I AIN’T sure if Tony G. would take kindly to it being called the “Hizzy, ‘DAWG!”

Next, Danny tells me that they finally fixed the channel as he’s convinced them to turn the sole TV monitor with the Versus fishing show on it over to the Monaco Grand Prix like the rest of the room... As I inquire to Danny whether or not they caught the fish? Then I hear some Brazilian’s a few rows ahead of us discussing the F1 race, while some Brit’s in front of us make a smarmy comment about Jenson waxing the field again... “Where’s Bourdais? Is that Kimi? Where’s my Vodka!” Yuck-yuck-yuck, as it seems universal to hear; oh you mean the BRAWN’s are running 1-2 again? As I sit idly listening while resplendent with Ferrari cap affixed. This is going to be entertaining as HELL! Or may be not?

And what are the odds that Crash Gladys of Speed Freaks TV would be assigned the seat directly behind Mwah! As she was chit-chating with some one (Chris “Throttle” Jacobs?) over some recent BRAWN GP scuttlebutt; what? Richard Branson was hitting on Jenson Button’s girlfriend? Hey can you launch this Tweet for me? Blah-blah-blah... So I interrupted Jeffrey and Crashes chit chat and introduced myself... (Pregnant pause!) So Danny and I decided to go outside and I manage to knock over one of the small waste paper baskets hidden underneath every few aisles...

To continue reading, see; Surviving Indy L101-150

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