Monday, May 25, 2009

Indianapolis 500, 2009!

Congratulations to Helio Castroneves for his third win at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday! Only three drivers have won more Indy 500 races. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears each won the race four times. Look out, boys -– Helio is catching up to you! The final tally of the race appears at the end of this article.

This year’s race was particularly significant because it’s the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mind you, it’s not the anniversary of the race itself. No, the track was originally a test track, and then raced motorcycles before the Indianapolis 500 was officially founded. The 100th anniversary of the race is 2011, and you can bet I’ll be there! I didn’t get to attend the race this year, but some friends came in from out of town for the race -– their first ever -– and apparently they had a great time. I love going to the race, but related events leading up to the race are just as (and often MORE) fun -- especially for Hoosiers. I haven’t attended many Carb (Carburetion) Days or Bump Days, but I think I’ll make an attempt next year.

Oh, Bump Day! Bump Day, held one weekend prior to the race (weather permitting), is the third day of qualifying, and many people consider it more exciting to watch than the race itself -- especially since the drivers often go faster than they do during the actual race. Bumping allows drivers to move their positions ahead in the current starting field of 33 positions. Also, if the 34th qualifier is faster than any of the 33 qualified cars in the field, the slowest car is bumped completely from the field. As you might expect, Bump Day qualifications can be pretty crazy, because in many cases no one really has any idea who’s going to stay in the race (or climb the field), and who isn’t. About the only pre-race day crazier than Bump Day at the track is Carb Day, which is the final day (Wednesday) of practice before the race.

My dear friend George attended Bump Day this year and supplied me with the following images, posted with permission. Don’t blink, or you might miss some famous racing faces. First, though, here is the setting, starting with a view of downtown Indianapolis from the track:
Cars and drivers:

Pageantry: The Borg-Warner trophy: Video footage of qualifying:

Now, as promised, here is the final tally of the Indy 500, 2009:

1 Helio Castroneves
2 Dan Wheldon
3 Danica Patrick
4 Townsend Bell
5 Will Power
6 Scott Dixon
7 Dario Franchitti
8 Ed Carpenter
9 Paul Tracy
10 Hideki Mutoh
11 Alex Tagliani
12 Tomas Scheckter
13 Alex Lloyd
14 Scott Sharp
15 Ryan Briscoe
16 A.J. Foyt IV
17 Sarah Fisher
18 Mike Conway
19 John Andretti
20 Milka Duno
21 Vitor Meira
22 Raphael Matos
23 Justin Wilson
24 E.J. Viso
25 Nelson Philippe
26 Oriol Servia
27 Tony Kanaan
28 Robert Doornbos
29 Davey Hamilton
30 Marco Andretti
31 Graham Rahal
32 Ryan Hunter-Reay
33 Mario Moraes

Thank you to everyone for a great race!


Duskdog said...

I grew up in Charlotte, NC, where everyone is crazy about NASCAR, and big race weeks there are always a big deal, too. They close down the streets in downtown Charlotte and have a big old block party on the weekend of the Coca-Cola 600 (this past weekend, coincidentally, was the 50th running of that race), complete with free concerts. Saw REO Speedwagon, Styx, 3 Doors Down, and a ton of other bands there over the years.

I've never been a fan of any kind of racing, really, but I do sort of miss the excitement in the community that goes along with it. Before we had a pro basketball team, and long before we had a pro football team, we had racing, and that's all we had to cheer for. :)

SallyP said...

Well, it was a pretty good race. Too bad about Marco Andretti though. (We always root for an's a family tradition).

I did just love Will Power however. I saw his name, and almost swallowed my tongue. Wouldn't he make the best Green Lantern EVER??!

Sea-of-Green said...

I admit, I didn't know anything about NASCAR until it came to Speedway. I attended the inaugural Brickyard 400. First, it was very clear that the track is NOT an easy one for NASCAR vehicles to handle. I never saw so many spinouts in my life, and they always spun out and ended up the same way -- stuck against a corner wall and facing backwards. It's thanks to NASCAR being at Indy, though, that track officials finally perfected those "bumper" walls. The second thing that struck me about NASCAR is that the cars are SO LOUD. I mean, Indy cars are very loud -- they sound a lot like little jet engines -- but NASCAR cars are INCREDIBLY loud. I regretted not bringing earplugs to that race.

Yeah, poor Marco Andretti. The Andretti Curse continues.

Will Power did well, didn't he? Fifth place! I was rooting for him last year, too. He keeps getting better and better. :-)