This was my first Indy 500 and the 93rd Indy race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the track was built 100 years ago in 1909 on 4790 W. 16th St. This is the largest single-day sporting event in the world and also the highest-capacity sporting facility in the world. An average of 400,000 race fans attending one of the oldest motor sport events that is known as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The track was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987; it currently remains the only such landmark to be affiliated with automotive racing history since its inception. This race is considered one of the three most significant motor racing events in the world (the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix being the other two). The first "500" was held at the Speedway on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911(admission was $1.00). Today the race generates about 336 million in revenue for Indianapolis.
The 2009 Indianapolis 500 begins a three-year Centennial Era celebration, which marks the 100th anniversary of the track opening and the 100th anniversary of the first Indy 500 which will be celebrated in May 2011. And if you're wondering why it will be only the 95th 500 that's because races were canceled during World Wars 1 & 2.
One of the main reasons for this trip was that my nephew just happened to be stationed at the Marine Corps base in Peru Indiana, which is only 1.5 hours away from Indianapolis. So we all decided that it would be a great weekend to visit and say hello. Driving from Danbury to Peru is only 12 hours. The drive was pretty comfortable too since one of my 2 brothers decided to rent a CTS 2009 Cadillac Sedan for the long drive, pretty nice ride. He also had a talking GPS with an x-rated Sexy Voice, pretty amusing. The day before the race on Saturday we decided to take in some local sites in Peru, which is in Miami County with a population of around 13,000 and was founded in 1834 by William N. Hood. The movie The Little Big Top (2008) was filmed entirely in Peru and is the home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, which just happened to be our first site to see. Ben Wallace established the Circus Hall of Fame in 1892. This place is also known as the Wallace Circus and American Circus Corporation Winter Quarters, or Peru Circus Farm or Valley Farms.
The Museum is filled with educational exhibits, old posters and banners, circus wagons, old costumes and a really Cool Miniature Circus Display. After our tour of the museum we decided on a little hike in the Acres Nature Preserve down the road. Next we crossed over the Wabash River and visited Main Street to get a bite to eat with some of the local Hoosiers.
The next day we left Peru around 7:30am for Speedway Indianapolis in Wayne Township, Marion County, Indiana, with a population around 13,000. The drive from Peru takes about 1.5 hours. As we got close to the track we saw a lot of people who live near the track offering up their front lawns for Parking starting at $10.00 a space. We also saw that there was over night camping and RV parking near the track too. The weather was nice and warm as we entered the Motor Speedway. As we got to our seats we realized just How Big this Place Really is, wow! One lap around the track is 2.5 miles with two 0.625 mile straight-aways and four 9-degree turns at 0.125 miles each with two 0.375 mile short chute straight-aways between them. There’s even a golf course with 4 holes in the infield with the other 14 holes outside the speedway, the Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort opened in 1929. There’s also an infield lake and a modern infield road course that was constructed between 1998 and 2000. And on top of that there's 18 large-screen video displays, utilizing LED technology, to watch replays and other views of the track. There's 7 video displays within the infield and 11 on the inside and outside of the main straightaway, Measuring in sizes from 29 feet by 23 feet to 9 feet by 10-1/2 feet. ESPN used 59 cameras to televise the race in high definition, including a 360-degree rotating onboard camera mounted behind the driver on multiple cars. Unique views will be provided by Track Cam, a high definition camera running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch that can move at more than 80 mph. All 33 cars will carry GPS boxes for the Sportvision RaceFX system to provide telemetry and pointers to help identify the cars for viewers. And ESPN will use a radio replay system that can record, play back and edit radios from any of the 33 drivers. I noticed that some people had earplugs which I didn't have but It wasn't that load where I was sitting. You can also bring or rent seat cushions which I thought was unnecessary. One thing to bring though is a small cooler for food and drinks which I saw a lot of people bringing, except me of course. There is plenty to drink and eat at the track if you don't mind spending the extra money. You should definitely wear a hat and sunscreen too.
Before the race begins there is a lot of pre race festivities like singing, historical moments, dedications, a fly over with two vintage B-25 Mitchell bombers, our national anthem and of course those famous words “Ladies and Gentlemen Start Your Engines”. (Wilbur Shaw, President of the Indy Speedway from 1946-1954, is believed to be the one who coined the phrase, "Gentlemen, start your engines! And now that women are racing the phrase has been updated). Miss America Katie Stam sang "America the Beautiful". The tradition of the pre-race singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana" goes back to 1946. Jim Nabors (June 12, 1930) better known as Gomer Pyle the auto mechanic in the American TV sitcom ‘ The Andy Griffith Show ‘ and a Marine on the show ‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C ’ which ran until 1969, sang this song beautifully. Jim Nabors has recorded twenty-eight albums and numerous singles in his singing career.
Florence Henderson sang “God Bless America”. Florence is better known as Carol Brady in the television program ‘ The Brady Bunch ’, which ran from 1969 to 1974. She was born in Dale, Indiana February 14, 1934.
The race begins after a couple of warm up laps with the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car. (Video) The race almost started but was waved off because Hélio Castroneves hit the accelerator and failed to maintain the traditional three-row lineup in the middle of turn four. Now the race begins, but not for long, the first lap entering the first short chute, Mario Moraes squeezed Marco Andretti into the wall, crashing both drivers. Andretti returned briefly later in the race on lap 61 to complete 56 laps before leaving after experiencing handling problems. As the race progressed I enjoyed talking with other race fans sitting around me. They were filled with all kinds a racing history and knowledge. I also noticed that some fans had those Track Scanners with headphones so that they can listen to their favorite drivers and their crews talking and also here race officials, radio and TV broadcasts. On lap 20 Ryan Hunter-Reay had an accident. This was the second yellow flag out of a total of 8 for 61 laps being under caution. Ten drivers Crashed in the race. This made the race a little longer to finish the 200 laps, but everyone was still happy that it didn’t rain. There was also 6 lead changes in the race between 4 drivers with Scott Dixon leading the most of the laps. The weather was cloudy with calm winds, air temperature was 87F, track temperature was 105F and the Air Pressure was 29.96 inches
The average racing speed was 150.318 mph with the top speeds averaging 218 mph. (Video)
The top pole position qualifying practice speed was 225.981 mph (39.8263 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval track by Ryan Briscoe on May 8, 2009 and Two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves won the pole position with a four-lap average speed of 224.864 mph). The fastest official lap ever was 237.498 mph by Arie Luyendyk during qualifying on May 12, 1996. The 3.5 liter 8 piston engines run on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol that produces 650 horsepower to go 0 to 100 mph in less then 3 seconds. At 1,565 lbs., the fuel mileage is less then 2 miles a gallon and burns 1.3 gallons per lap before needing to refuel after 30 laps. The drivers endure G-forces nearly 4 times the weight of gravity when going into a turn. The name "Brickyard" or "Yard of Bricks" was named after the track because it was once paved with 3.2 million bricks. In October 1961, the final remaining brick sections of the track were paved over with asphalt, with the exception of a distinct three-foot-wide line of bricks at the start/finish line. There are only 33 cars in the starting field because of safety reasons. The cars are open-wheel, single-seat with open-cockpit and ground-effect underbody and outboard wings front and rear. The cars are 16 feet long minimum, 6.5 feet wide maximum and 3.1 feet high.
The final 15 laps of the race Castroneves maintained a nice lead over Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick to win his third career Indianapolis 500 victory. (Video) He is the sixth driver to win three 500s and the first foreign-born driver to do so. He was a rookie in his first win in 2001.
Before accepting the Borg-Warner Trophy we watched Helio Castroneves and his crew engaged in their traditional victory celebration by climbing the front stretch catch fence before heading home. Wow, what a day. Three women were in the race today and Danica Patrick finished third which was the best finish by a woman in the tracks history. All together five women have raced in the Indianapolis 500: Janet Guthrie (1977-79), Lyn St. James (1992-97, 2000), Sarah Fisher (2000-04, 2007-09), Danica Patrick (2005-07, 09) and amazingly beautiful Milka Duno (2007, 09).
There are also 2 more races here at the track this year, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP Motorcycle Race. And if you have time, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, that opened in 1956, would be a nice place to visit too. And if you ever wondered why does the winner of the Indianapolis 500 drink milk in Victory, well, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Louis Meyer regularly drank buttermilk to refresh himself on a hot day and happened to drink some in Victory Lane as a matter of habit after winning the 1936 race. An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated when he saw the moment captured in a photograph in the sports section of his newspaper the following morning that he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years. There was a period between 1947-55 when milk was apparently no longer offered, but the practice was revived in 1956 and has been a tradition ever since.
I hope I make the 2011 race or the 2016 race, and this time I will get a photographers pass.
Till then good luck everyone and have fun on all your adventures, Howie
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