Thursday, May 16, 2013

INDY 500: Dario Hears from the Fans...

Here’s my (somewhat) “Quick” recap of last  year’s (2012) Most Excellante trip to the Indy 500 - which was another Stellar outing largely due to my wonderful host Dave ‘CARPETS O’Brien...

’Superstar No Fenders scribe Tomaso poses with thee George’s No. 1 Camaro at IMS, and NO! I’m flashing a different #1 than Will Power did; Hya! (DOB)
 Thurs; 5/24
Having heard Kevin Lee of Trackside with Kevin and Cavin mostly downplay the horrors of flying to the West Coast for the Long Beach Grand Prix recently, (WOW! Another year later and ‘Ol Kurty Cavin brought I-T up again, along with Kevin’s impending trip to Sao Paolo; Boo-hoo-hoo...) I thought I’d lament upon the frivolities of traveling the other way, eh?

As my Shuttle Express pick-up was slated for 4:40-5AM for my 7:35AM departure from SeaTac to Denver; nearly a 4hr layover before arriving at Indianapolis at 7:10PM ET... Dave O’Brien picked me up at airport, where I actually wanted to check out the ‘HULIO Castro-nervous (Helio Castroneves) 2012 Dallara DW12 Showcar; Aye Karumba! As the new car really didn’t look as UGLY as I’ve been led to believe, albeit it AIN’T a No Fenders car...

Drove to the Flagroom, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Bar & Restaurant left over from the Brickyard Hotel they demolished 2yrs ago - as I’d told Dave prior to arriving it’d be fun to get to chit chat with “Doctor Who” again...

Dr. Who is actually Tim Wardrop - an Englishman who worked in Formula 1 for 10yrs before coming to America to work as an IndyCar Engineer, having worked on Juan Pablo Montoya’s winning 2000 I500 racecar as well as being Arie Luyendyk’s race winning engineer in 1997 when Arie set the one and four lap qualifying records of 237mph which still stand today!

Sitting down at the adjoining table, Dave said quietly to me - I think that’s Buddy? As next thingy I knew I was answering Formula 1 questions for Buddy Lazier, the ’96 Indy 500 winner; CRIKEYS!

Later on Dave asked if Buddy would sign what would become the first of three beer ‘Adverts in the bar for me - before asking how you spell Tomaso? Oh you mean like a De Tomaso Pantera... I’d better add an O to it Big Fellah... Then as we posed for our pick Buddy told me to say: Beautiful Women!” As Buddy was truly quite pleasant to Mwah, very friendly, engaging and generous with his time, as a few more autograph seekers approached him whilst he chit-chatted with us.

And Dr. Who was quite pleasant too - asking if I knew who he was during a moment of quiet when Buddy had left the table previously, as Tim’s always been very cordial to me since my first meeting him back in ’07.

After getting to ‘CARPETZ MANOR in Greenwood, about a half-hours drive from the track we stayed up til midnight I think, as we were awaiting the ‘KuhNuck’s arrival, as I’d awake a few times in the morning to the sounds of laughter from the backyard patio where apparently The Boyz stayed up until 4AM+ YIKES! (As this would be the last evening the window would be open before the AC was required...)

A blast from the past; a Buddy Lazier Coors ‘CRAPWAGON Showcar outside the Flagroom bar with some ‘KuhNuck’s posing nearby it. (DOB)
Carb Day: Fri; 5/25
Although Dave tried rousing Rob, Mark & Simon several times in the morning, the three “Hosers” were going NO-wherez and thus just Dave & I departed for 16th & Georgetown - where the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located for Carb Day, which includes the final IndyCar practice prior to the race. The Freedom 100, the Indy Lights 40-lap race for the series support class and the IZOD Pitstop challenge which is immediately followed by the Miller Lite Carb Day concert; this year’s act being the reconstituted Lynnard Skynard band taking the stage at 3:30PM.

After having gotten cut-off by mere minutes to being allowed to park in the IMS infield and having to find parking on a nearby neighborhood street instead - we sauntered into the race track at 10:58AM; “Just-in-Time” to catch the start of the 1hr final ‘BigCarz final practice session - the final tune-up prior to the Indy 500 on Sunday... As the two Target cars of Dario Franchitti & Scott Dixon wound-up 1-2 on the speed chart with laps of 221+ mph whilst the rest of the field was mired down in the 218mph range.

After moving to a different vantage point for the Indy Lights race - as the mercury continued climbing and the heat began feeling oppressive, we sat thru a red flag period as debris was removed from the track after a five-car collision, as my choice for winner came thru on a prelude to Sunday’s outcome - a collision one lap prior to the chequered flag with the race finishing under yellow... As Esteban Guerrieri from Argentina won, giving Indy Car Series owner Sam Schmidt his seventh Freedom 100 victory in nine attempts...

After watching; Err listening to the start of the Pitstop competition - which I absolutely can care less about - Dave asked if I wanted to head over to the Flagroom instead? As the ‘KuhNucks had finally awoken and it was decided that we’d rendezvous there - as Dave & I had lunch while awaiting their arrival, as Dr. Who would also join us later; as he was pulling triple duty as the race engineer for both of Fan Force United’s Indy Lights cars driven by India’s Armaan Ebrahim and Emerson Newton-John, nephew of this year’s Indy  Parade and Freedom  100 honorary green flag waver Olivia Newton John; who was making his racing return after an 11-year layoff; along with their ‘Big Car (IndyCar) effort for Jean Alesi - the 47yr old ex-Ferrari Formula 1 Ace; as I’d later on ask him how he thought his driver (Alesi) felt about attending a “Last Row” party?

And when I think of Tim, I’ll always get a wry smile and chuckle over his colourful sentiments towards his Indian Indy Lights Charge that weekend, whilst he was much more complimentary towards Emerson - as sadly, unbeknownst to Mwah, it would be the last weekend I’d ever see him...

The Last Row Party is one of the numerous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) traditions - where checks in the amount of 31, 32 and 33-cents are awarded to that year’s drivers starting in Row-11 in those corresponding positions. As the Indy 500 starts eleven rows of three cars historically...

Then next thingy you know, Dave spotted another of the Last Row drivers outside walking towards the bar and jumped up after asking if I wanted “Symona-Symona’s” (Simona de Silvestro) autograph? Although I don’t know if Dave knew how I now somewhat loathe her since she’s sponsored by Entergy Nuclear in the Nuclear “Clean Air” Car... As I’ve previously penned the story about Simona running Glow in the Dark colours for 3yrs, i.e.; length of sponsorship deal.

Yet next thing you know there comes Dave strolling in with Simona in tow as he introduces her to me - and wallah, my second driver autograph in two days - thanxs to Dave! Who later explained to me he wasn’t gonna try explaining to her how to speel Tomaso; Hya!

After departing the Flagroom, the five amigos walked down Georgetown street as the KuhNuck’s were in search of IndyCar merchandise - as we walked all the way over to what they called the Trailer Courts, where they found one booth still open alongside some closed merchandise trailers where Rob purchased two Arie Luyendyk 1/64 Matchbox models before we returned to ‘CARPETS Manor and sat outside on the patio for some serious Armchair race chatting...  

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