2022 Greatest 33 & Post-race Update


Back again and it’s over a week dealing with the post-Indy 500 withdrawal that befalls us annually. Perhaps the feeling is also abetted by the renewal of my tickets for 2023, which reminds me that the next Indy 500 is 350-some-odd days away.

To ease my pain, I return to the numbing coolness of bland columns and rows of race statistics, including the annual update to my Greatest 33 and some other noted bits from this year’s race.


The Greatest 33 As a refresher, IMS put out this list in 2011 and fans could vote on their Greatest 33 to race in the Indy 500. To help me choose my candidates, I used a select batch of statistics to make my choices then and since have maintained this list every year, updating following the 500. The selected stats are weighted based on my relative value in an overall score by driver. My categories are; Races Started (10 pts. each), Pole Positions (20 pts. each), Laps Lead (1 pt. each), Races Won (250 pts. each), and Top 5 finishes (40 pts. each). I have been considering for some years adding a category for Total Miles Completed and updating the entire list as well, more on that another time. At any rate, here it is in all it’s unabashed boringness:

The “Field”

In addition to all the active drivers gaining another 10 points for another race started, Scott Dixon moved up three positions via another pole and increased his laps lead total by 95 this year to surpass Ralph DePalma (612) and Al Unser (644) to become the all-time leader of laps lead of the Indy 500 (to date) with 665. I’m fairly certain he’d preferred a win with no pole and only one lap lead this year to this year’s result, but alas, it wasn’t to be once again for the Iceman whose disappointment in not winning this race in a month he dominated may also have set a new high. The utter pain on his face after the race was easily seen and we all could empathize. As it stands, Dixon remains the highest scoring single-winner on my Greatest 33.


The “Lead Pack”

Who’s Next? – Active drivers from this year’s race that are the closest to moving into the Greatest 33 would be Power (664), Pagenaud (629), Rossi (557), Marco (534), or Ed Carpenter (516). The current driver ‘on the bubble’ is Jim Clark with 738 points and a win by the aforementioned drivers (minimally adds 301 points if leading only 1 lap) would put them well ahead of Clark on points, moving into a place amid Montoya, Sato, Sneva, and Parnelli Jones somewhere in the 8th or 9th rows.

If you recall, my list is essentially a top 30 plus the 3 best to never win it, in an homage to the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation Last Row Party. Michael Andretti, Ted Horn, and Rex Mays currently occupy Row 11, placing Clark on the ’30th place bubble’.

“One Lap Down”

Winner, Winner – The checkers fell to the newest first-time, and second native Swedish winner in Indy 500 history – Marcus Ericsson. My Greatest 33 list contains all multiple winners of the Indy 500 and being a one-time winner with relatively few races or laps lead means Marcus jumped from 127th to 81st now totaling 343 points (and one notch ahead of Graham Hill), but is still trailing the mid-pack of all Indy 500 winners in my list. Certainly a win is a huge bump up the list, but one-time winners in the Top 33 are few and distinguished.

Top 5 finishes for Ericsson, O’Ward, Kanaan, Rosenqvist, and Rossi all boosted their standings. Kanaan especially gained as he was able to distinguish himself sufficiently from Bill Vukovich and Rodger Ward placing squarely in 15th.

Photo by Indycar/Joe Skibinski (c) 2022

Not Bad For A Pay Driver – Marcus becomes the second native of Sweden to win the 500 (Kenny Brack in 1999 being the first). As noted above, his place among 1-time winners is fairly low trailing all others but Graham Hill, Floyd Davis (a co-driver credited with a win), and Gaston Chevrolet (the lowest ranked winner with 324 points).

“Mid-Pack”

Miscellany – “Ground Control to Major Correction, come in Correction!” Somehow, in the hoary, early days of this spreadsheet, I lost Joe Dawson. For the life of me I can’t comprehend why, but somewhere in 2013, the 1912 winner disappeared from my list. Mr. Dawson was not in my Greatest 33, however to be missing him entirely was certainly an error. He returns to the grid in 79th with his 362 points, placing him between Ralph Hepburn and Wally Dallenbach, and two spaces ahead of this year’s winner Ericsson.

Miscellany 2 – One thing I miss most about the new scoring pylon versus the old one is the average race speed shown at the top of the stack. The Indy 500 qualifying field was the fastest average in history so it stands to reason that the 2022 race would be among the fastest as well. It was the 7th fastest race of all time, but it also had 31 laps of yellow, the second most compared to the 13 fastest races run (all under 3 hours running time). Only 1991 had more laps of yellow (35). 1991 stands as the 5th fastest all-time, and just a blink under 1 minute faster than 2022. Not coincidentally, the fastest race of all-time in 2013 had the fewest laps under yellow.


“Also-Rans”

Photo by Indycar/Karl Zemlin (c) 2022

Wither TK? – Fan-favored Antoine Rizkallah Kanaan Filho, currently in 15th with 1192 points is a relatively scant 108 points away from moving up two places, passing fellow Brazilian Emo Fittipaldi, and former teammate/best bud Dario Franchitti who sit at 13th and 14th places with 1295 and 1299 respectively.

That move would align him right behind the great Mario Andretti (1396) for 13th overall. Another race and a Top 5 would seal a minimum of 50 points, not to mention what a win or leading 50 more laps would do. Although he’s on his second “Last Lap” of the Indycar scene, he did little the entire month to dissuade a smart owner from putting the popular driver in a highly-competitive second/third seat for Indy should the funding be there. Every driver stops racing at some point, and there’s much to be said for going out on a high, but I can’t shake the feeling that we’ve not seen the last of TK at Indy.


The drivers in the Greatest 33 change very little, although this generation of legendary Indycar drivers continue to march steadily up the list.

Dixon’s disappointing day should also be assuaged in the fact that he now owns a very impressive record at IMS – The Most Laps Lead of all-time. For now, it will always come with the caveat that he also hold only one win. If Dixon manages to grab that second win and maybe one more pole (tying Rick Mears for Most Pole Positions) before he’s done, the records will mean even more in combination with multiple wins, and cementing his place among the greatest of the Greatest 33 to race at Indy.


2022 Rows 1-3
Rows 4-7
Rows 8-11
The Full Field

A Few Quick Thoughts

As a final entry before leaving for Indy a ‘dark-o-thirty’ AM, I’ve thought about a number of suitable subjects, but none stands out in particular. So, I’ll just briefly touch on a number of the scattered themes that were bouncing around before I hit the hay.


Off Years – I was thinking about how an all-time instant classic/historic race comes along that we celebrate for many years following, but what about that race that follows the next year? This will be my 35th race and I’ve seen several races for the ages, but I also recall feeling a bit of trepidation in the years following a classic. Tempering my expectations always isn’t as easy as it might seem to be, but in the years following a great all-time race, there is usually something memorable to happen.

Following the closest finish in history in 1992, the 1993 was actually quite good for as little as it gets talked about. Perhaps most only recall that being the year Emerson thrice eschewed the milk on national TV, only to swig a bottle of orange juice to promote his farms in Brazil.

1983 usually pales in comparison with one of the most memorable races the year prior, although the notable rookie and pole-sitting performance by Teo Fabi was quite the introduction to this year’s race. The late-race drama between Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., and Tom Sneva made for some great TV and also commentary, but Sneva, after all of high-speed exploits at Indy in the 7 years prior, finally got a deserved win. He is one of a handful of single-win drivers that could have easily won two or three with just a little bit of better fortune.

The Greatest 33 Redux – As my tens of loyal readers know, I maintain this subjective tally that was originated by the Speedway for the Centennial Anniversary Era. I typically do a preview of the race or at least how the list changes following every 500.

Essentially, you need to be more than just a single-win driver with a few races to make my list. Longevity, Poles, Laps Lead, and Top 5 finishes also play a part in my calculations. Drivers such Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal all have a chance to notch their first win and come very close to bumping their way into my Greatest 33.

Second wins for Dixon, Kanaan, Power, Pagenaud, or Rossi would elevate them well into my Greatest 33.

Numerology of the ‘2’ – I had this theme bouncing in my head for years, but my inaction means I’ve come second to the good chaps at Beyond The Bricks Podcast – Jake Query and Mike Thomsen who covered this very subject recently.

It seems that race years that end in the number ‘2’, are extra-memorable for one reason or another. Last year we could consider the similarities of a year ending in ‘1’ and the crowning of a 4-time winner (1991 Mears, 2021 Castroneves). Will a finish for the ages be in store for us this year? Time will tell. Query and Thomsen of course do such a great job with the subject, that I cannot possibly add to it.

If you haven’t yet caught their show, I highly recommend binge-listening to their 2022 episodes heading into your Indy 500 weekend. That podcast, along with all of their other Month of May Indy 500 themes can be found here.


As always, I’ll be looking forward to another edition of that historic ‘speed classic’ in Indy, by being on the hallowed grounds of IMS again. I hope you will enjoy your Memorial Day racing weekend, wherever you may be. Peace!

A Reflection on Liveries

In my preparation for my trip to the 500, I always spend just a little time pouring over the intricacies of the starting field. How many previous winners? How many rookies? What are the countries of origin? Any bits of trivia I find interesting.

Some examples; Row 10 this year is the only row which features only one of the engine manufacturers (Chevy); Lundgaard is the first Danish driver to make the field; Row 5 is the only all-USA native field; etc.

In doing so however, I also look at colors and liveries in the spotters guide. Between qualifying weekend TV coverage and reviewing the guide, I noticed there are virtually no liveries that I would consider unattractive this year. All are notable and few replicate others so closely that they’re difficult to identify immediately.

The livery game in Indycar has stepped up in the last few years and I want to say that it is about as good as it ever has been and perhaps 2022 is the best of the 20s so far, but as is typical with everything else in sports, comparing eras separated by years and decades means that technology factors into the discussion.

I do think that as wild as the vehicle design was through the 1970s, the liveries of that decade were a reflection of that era in freedom of creativity. When one considers that nearly everything (if not everything) was hand-painted at that time, the work to produce a memorable and visually-capturing livery was truly an art.

Perhaps only rivalled by the 1973 field, one of my absolute favorite fields, subjectively judged by liveries, is 1970. Below is the hyperlinked year of the field for your perusal, of images from the Indycar.com site.


1970 – The dawn of a new decade and new era in racing meant creativity was in full flow. The #2 Johnny Lightning Special driven by Al Unser was the actual race-winner, but is also one of the most recognizable liveries of all-time now over 50 years on, but first appearing in 1970.

In 1970, Foyt’s Coyote Red team cars had become easily recognizable as did the Granatelli Team STP day-glo red, and the McLaren’s Papaya orange, but other non-works liveries that standout include: the #25 Cablevision car of Lloyd Ruby;

the #97 Wynn’s Spit Fire Special driven by Bruce Walkup;

The #22 and #23 Sprite soft drink liveries driven by Wally Dallenbach and Mel Kenyon;

And the #89 Nelson Iron Works Special driven by Jerry Grant.

The #89 I particularly enjoy as it evokes a feeling of walking into a groovy ’70s lounge with dark paneling, brown vinyl-covered cushy club chairs, shag carpeting, and swag lighting everywhere, including the restrooms.

Wait! I’ve been there. It’s called the High Life Lounge in Des Moines, Iowa. When I made the trek to see Indycars in Iowa in the summer of 2018, we made sure to hit this classic spot and so should you (if you’re over 21 years of age, that is).

I believe art generally reflects the times and even so when applied to the mechanical racecar. The variety of chassis as well as the creative liveries in the field of the 1970 Indy 500 really gives one a sense of the times.

I knew (/hoped?) this day would come, eventually…

Images captured from screenshots of video footage (c) IMS 1996, 2022

In 1997, I went from being optimistic that the speeds to challenge Luyendyk’s 1996 qualifying record would return in 8-10 years, to just hoping I’d be alive to see it. I was 30 years old then. Naïveté isn’t bounded by age, but rather experience apparently.

Flashback to 1997 and the all-new naturally-aspirated 4.0l v-8 engine and chassis formula of the IRL. The reduced engine costs and increased/deafening roar of the IRL indicated a new era where the perception was set that speed was no longer king. The 218 mph pole speed and 206 mph slowest qualifying speed in 1997 recalled speeds of a decade prior. Certainly a regression had happened which did nothing to assuage the concerns of the ticket-buying public, yours truly included.

Still, I had solid faith in the engineers and a very modest faith in the powers-that-be that solutions to ramping speeds back up would be forthcoming in a matter of years. By the time 10 years had passed though, we were hovering around the speeds of 16 years prior. Patience was wearing thin, even for this grizzled fan who had nearly seen it all by this point, but there was some progress on unification of open-wheel racing where better performance and a much better perception of the overall product was emphasized.

Flashforward another 15 years to yesterday, May 22, 2022.

A tumultuous set of weather parameters had rolled through the previous days, testing the limits of flexibility and skill of the teams and drivers during practice in preparation for qualifying. On Sunday however, a relative cool and calm settled over the speedway allowing the Fast 12 to really dial it in and let it go in their runs for the pole.

What resulted yesterday, in my view, was long-overdue, yet nothing short of magical to finally experience.

An ageless wonder, the kiwi-sensation, who even only at 41 years old, seems to have been around longer than nearly everyone at the speedway, save for Roger Penske, Tony Kanaan, and a few yellow-shirts. Scott “The Iceman” Dixon broke the speed record held by Scott Brayton from 1996 that had stood for over 26 years – a four-lap average of 234.046mph for the pole-winning speed. I felt as if the racing gods were again smiling down as they had 51 weeks prior when the fourth 4-time winner was crowned.

screen clip of video footage (c) IMS 2022

Of course the outright 4-lap qualifying record of 236.986mph (non-pole-winning speed held by Arie Luyendyk) still lay beyond us, but it truly seems so much closer than ever before. My appetite to see that record broken is truly whet. The potential for speed setbacks in the transition to new motors in 2024 looms, but I have to believe we’re not far away from 237.

I only hope to be there when it happens.

Catching Up with the Greatest 33 – 2021 Edition

Now with the glory of the 2021 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race firmly in the rear-view mirror, I’ve carved time to revisit my Greatest 33 and review the largest shake-up in the standings since the inception of this 10-years-old bit of bench-racing started back in 2011.

To briefly review, IMS took great pains to create a special interactive website for the 2011 100th Anniversary race, for which fans could log in and vote for their “Greatest 33” to race at Indy from the 100 or so nominees provided. The site survived for a few years, but has since been taken down. I had participated in the original, but in need of some rudimentary starting point, my desire was to devise a method to the madness, trying to maintain some framework of relative fairness. I devised a set of objective criteria based on a few statistics that I deemed important for a driver to be in the conversation of the Greatest 33. At least I’d have some basis to sift and sort through the many drivers who’ve participated in this great race. With some consternation and trial-and-error, I settled on the weighted scoring method you see here. As you may have correctly guessed, ‘just for fun’ I saved and updated a spreadsheet every year following the results of each subsequent Indy 500. In the words of John Bender from The Breakfast Club, “…so, it’s sorta social, demented and sad, but social.” Prior posts of mine on this subject can be found by searching this blog’s tags for “Greatest 33”.

Without further ado, here is the top portion of that updated spreadsheet in all of its astoundingly dispassionate and boring rows and columns.

Helio Joins Racing Royalty – With his momentous and thrilling 4th victory, Helio Castroneves graduates to the uppermost eschelon of this list, joining the three other 4-time winners atop my Greatest 33. As noted back in the 2018 recap, a significant change at the top occurs if HE-LI-O got his 4th. He vaults above the other 3-time winners, Wilbur Shaw and Bobby Unser to 4th place overall, behind Rick Mears, AJ Foyt, and Al Unser. Dare we even contemplate the possibility of the first 5-time winner? That’s too much to even consider this close to Helio’s 4th win. Even another 4-time winner is difficult to imagine in my lifetime. As unlikely as it would appear that Rutherford or Franchitti would come out of retirement to attempt to join the 4-timers club, it’s seems nearly as unlikely that we’ll see another 4-time winner from the currently active 2-time (Montoya, Sato), or 1-time winners (Dixon, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Power, and Pagenaud).

Errors Corrected – Only the most eagle-eyed/unicorn follower of my blog might notice this, but not only did Helio move up in the first three rows, but so too did Mauri Rose, from Row 4. In working this original batch of statistics, I recall originally being some what thrown off by the fact that Mauri Rose was shown by the official Indianapolismotorspeedway.com statistical drivers pages as being a two-time winner, (plus historically also one time as a co-driver with Floyd Davis in 1941). Until now I ignored/forgotten about it but with the confirmation of established 500 history buff/authority, Mike Thomsen (@thomsen419), I took the time this year to correct that error in my sheet, giving both pairs of winning drivers (Rose/Davis, Boyer/Corum) the full points accorded winners, and transferring Rose up the standings into the outside of the 3rd Row. Overall it did nothing to change the drivers named in the 33, just shuffled the order to be more accurate with the base statistics.

What about 2020? – In looking back to the foggy, labored, and generally abysmal year that was 2020, I realized I hadn’t posted about the results of the previous Indy 500, a second win for Takuma Sato. Sato-san’s second, moved him from below the cut line into the Greatest 33. All drivers with more than one win are included in my Greatest 33 currently. As with the second Montoya win in 2015, Sato moved into the Greatest 33 and in doing so, they each displaced a driver previously on my list. Montoya bumped Bobby Rahal and Sato bumped Jimmy Murphy, both one-time winners.

Intangibles, Part One – Readers of the past will recall that there are a few differences between my staid statistical listing and the graphical listing shown here. These are the subjective movements in rank that I assign based on a few variable details not accounted for in my spreadsheet. Also, for those not familiar with my particular listing, this is basically a Top 30 plus a ‘Last Row Club’ (as a nod to the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation’s ‘Last Row Party’) comprised of the best 3 to never win. I intend to maintain this format unless sufficiently cajoled otherwise. If you want a very limited edition souvenir, follow the IPCF link above and get yourself one of the most fun-spirited Indy 500 shirts available.

Intangibles, Part Two – With the weight of a 4th pole position and statistically now ranked 10th, Scott Dixon is located in 12th place behind Gordy and Mario as I feel their legend status still holds just the slightest bit more weight than Dixon. In terms of points, the three are separated by 1%, effectively now ‘three wide’ across the 4th row, I fully expect Dixon will fully overhaul them before his days are over at Indy. By the narrowest of margins, Tony Kanaan charts just one point ahead of Bill Vukovich. Much as the reasoning above though, I’ll hold the two-time legend of Vuky ahead of Kanaan, until TK ‘clears’ Vuky and ‘makes the pass’ into 16th place. As in years past, Arie Luyendyk holds one place higher than scored due to his current one- and four-lap qualifying records which are always notable and celebrated in the annals of the 500. I also expect these records will fall in the not-too-distant future and I will return him to his place between Al Unser Jr., and Dan Wheldon.

Outside Chances – Who is close to breaking into the Top 30+3? Second wins for Hunter-Reay, Power, Pagenaud, or Rossi would see them jump to the strata populated largely with two-timers in Rows 7, 8 or 9 and bump Jim Clark out. Marco is approximately 2-3 non-winning races of overtaking Rex Mays and bookending the 11th row with his father. A win for the evergreen Ed Carpenter, coupled with his long career, 3 poles, nearly 150 laps lead, and 3 top 5 finishes would bring him into the low 800-point range, surpassing Bill Holland/Billy Arnold/Jim Rathmann/Jim Clark.

Other Bits – Interestingly, perhaps, Mark Donohue ranks 66th on my list and he won with Car #66. Gil deFerran is 67th and won with car #68. Perhaps somewhere down the line a driver that wins in car #67 will settle in that 9-point gap between Donohue and deFerran, making the lore of Indy 500 numerology that much deeper for me.

For me, I enjoy the time and thought required to update and review this every year. It always seems to force me to re-evaluate drivers of the past as well as consider the currently active drivers place in the pantheon of Indy 500’s Greatest. I’d love to hear from anyone else that did this back in 2011 (or beyond) and their experience in selecting their Greatest 33.

Speaking of Memorials

“…we also pay homage to those men who have given their lives unselfishly and without fear to make racing the most spectacular spectator sport.”

– Jim Phillippe, IMS Public Address – Indianapolis 500 Raceday.

For decades, the words and actions that lead to the start of the Indianapolis 500 were crafted carefully, scripted to meet a specific event timeline, and ritualized for many years. Rightly so, and as a whole, the prelude to the race represents one of the most important traditions of race-day to generations of fans. The words quoted above are taken from the address given by IMS Public Address announcer, Mr. Jim Phillippe, prior to the start of the 1989 Indianapolis 500.

These words were also spoken many times in the years prior and since. Following the invocation, as a call to remain standing, Mr. Phillippe’s words were a solemn reminder of the significance of Memorial Day, but specifically he also pays homage to those who died in the service of auto racing. At least that’s how I interpret those words which are phrased similarly but separately from the acknowledgment of the many who died in wars and conflicts for which the Memorial Day holiday was established.

During a recent Beyond The Bricks show, Jake Query and Mike Thomsen discuss candidly, but also with the greatest respect, a few of the group of drivers who perished at the Speedway. I found it very refreshing and helpful as I too have long wanted to have a more open discussion and learn more about these drivers and their personalities, who all too often are remembered primarily for the fact that they died driving a racecar at IMS.

I have always wondered what the survivors’ families and fans in general would think of a quiet, solemn, on-site memorial for those who died, somewhat away from the regular main thoroughfares of pedestrian traffic. Is it time to have a dedicated place to gather and reflect on those lives lost at the Speedway?

I know that for me, having that place would also be one I would regularly visit to pay respect and contemplate those drivers’ and history more deeply. Maybe it would be reflected in a part of the Museum. Maybe one already exists and I’m not aware of it. Perhaps the whole of the Speedway grounds represents that. Could those chills when entering the gates when emerging on the business side of the oval be not only in awe of the amazing facility and events past, but also with deepest respect for those who perished at the Speedway?

For many years, Donald Davidson would gently eschew discussion on the topic of fatalities, certainly as was his right as host of his show, but having now been alive for over 50 years, and followed Indycar for well over 40, I’ve seen too many drivers lose their lives while racing to not appreciate some sort of deeper conversation about them, and especially those of several decades ago who I never got to see race at IMS. People who are more heavily or directly involved with the Speedway on a regular basis are certainly more sensitive to, and in some cases more personally related to these people and their histories than the average fan. I can see the reluctance in having to repeatedly recall someone fond in the past-tense, yet those are the drivers whose histories seem significantly occluded by their final demise at the Speedway. I’ve always respected, but also found curious, that there appears to be a strong resistance by the Speedway to publicly approach the subject. Certainly it should never be taken lightly and be treated with delicate respect.

In any case, I appreciate the opportunity provided by Query and Thomsen and agree with their method of providing a way to more completely consider the drivers who all too often are not seen beyond their final moments. I welcome that deeper understanding and also the ability to have a beautiful, solemn, dedicated place to visit on the grounds of the Speedway to more directly pay respects and to acknowledge the more complete history of the Speedway.

Please tell me your thoughts on this subject in the comments below.

Wake Up The Echoes

The line “wake up the echoes”, as almost everyone from the northern part of Indiana would recall, is a lyric from the Notre Dame Victory March. The line is set within a stanza implores one to recall and revive the glories past;

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, 

Wake up the echoes cheering her name, 

Send a volley cheer on high, 
Shake down the thunder from the sky.

Growing up where I did, Notre Dame football and the Indianapolis 500 once held an unparalleled significance in both long-standing tradition and celebration on an annual basis. I still see similarities with this sentiment and the opening day at IMS.

Opening day of 500 practice reminds us of a few things that acknowledge time and place; another year has ticked by, we have indeed survived another winter (which for Northern Indiana tends to be a bleak and oppressive 4 months), the optimism of spring is well and truly beset around us, the greening of the landscape signals the onset of more comfortable climes, and the quickening of pace to all things Indiana, especially the cars at Indy. My recent visit to the Indycar Grand Prix followed by this opening day also has awoken my restful desire to write here again. 


After being at IMS this past weekend, I appreciate how I find something special each visit there. Whether recalling specific visits or events past, or how the physical grounds and surroundings change over the years, or a mixture of people, time, and place, each visit seems unique and never repetitive. This past weekend I was not only engrossed with the racing, but also noticing what’s new around the track and in the museum.

Of special note to me was the A.J. Foyt exhibit in the museum and the demolished Lola tub on display that had been saved from his horrific crash at Road America in 1990. It takes very little imagination to see what damage was done to his body in that crash.

While presented as a testament to his incredible toughness and desire to return to racing following that crash, I am also reminded of how incredibly dangerous this endeavor is, despite the ongoing improvements to safety. Maybe it’s my steadily advancing age, or the fact that I’ll be attending my 30th Indy 500 this year, or that I’ve been following the sport for around 40 of my 49 years, but the fragility of life in the profession of Indycar racing seems all the more apparent now. In light of the length of my Speedway history, Hinchcliffe’s crash still seems like yesterday to me.

There is that dark and rarely officially discussed thread of mayhem and death woven into the history of the Speedway and while there is no need to glorify it, I also feel it quite important and well overdue to more suitably, publicly, and solemnly honor, via a permanent museum place or exterior monument, all those (fans included) who have given their lives from the events within the confines of the Speedway.

There really needs to be no shame in doing so, I feel. The drivers all eagerly acknowledge this risk in trade for thrills, riches, and glory. To publicly exhibit some condolence to those who were far less fortunate seems a fitting and necessary counter-balance to the weight of glory.

Many acknowledge a ‘spirit of the Speedway’ that they experience when visiting. While difficult to substantiate in a logical way, I’ve felt it as well nearly every visit. I don’t think it a stretch to consider that something well beyond our understanding may be ‘touching’ our psyche in those moments and to me, it feels as if it is from those who are gone.

Hokey-sounding perhaps, but I can assure you something I’ve experienced, and not imagined. 

So before I succumb to the annual rites of celebration and ‘shaking down of the thunder’ that arrive with my annual trip to the Speedway for the Indy 500 weekend, I’m feeling the need to take a moment today, this opening day at IMS, in solemn reflection of those whose lives were forever altered or mortally concluded at the Speedway. 

If nothing else, I’ll take those moments when they come (much like today) to consider the lives lost at the speedway and extend into the sky/universe a solemn acknowledgement of their sacrifice.

 

Initial Feedback – The Inaugural Grand Prix of Indy

Mug-N-Bun never fails to satisfy

Following the #GPofINDY, and surviving a near brain-freeze from rapidly trying to ingest too much Mug-N-Bun root beer float, I had a three-hour drive home to recount the day’s events. 

It’s my opinion that direct and unfiltered customer-to-provider feedback is a good thing and especially when the experience is fresh in the mind. Upon returning home with sleepy family members in tow, I resisted my usual race-return tradition of watching the TV coverage and sent out only my most vivid impressions via Twitter. The immediacy of approximately five thoughts, I thought, would gather a decent snapshot of my experience. 

Listed below are those tweets in chronological order, which ended up being forwarded by a follower of mine to Douglas Boles, President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He graciously responded. 































Who knew a blowhard blogger such as myself can provide useful, concise, and unbiased feedback? 




The President of IMS, that’s who. You’re a good man, Douggie Boles. 


I encourage all you reading this to add your own ON-SITE facility experiences in the comments below, and save the racing and TV critiques for other places. I believe that no opinion is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, as long as you strive to be as fair and honest with your input as possible. 

I’ll be happy to forward all of the input I receive to the uppity-ups at IMS. The more ‘pixels’ we have from the event, the better the overall picture they’ll have.

Glampty-Dance, Here’s Yo Chance, So do The Glamp!

Oh, hello there.

Yes, friends, it has been a while, but with the off-season turned chock-a-block with new-season goodies, many things are looking up for the Indycar season – 2014.

Now ‘Glamping’ (Glamorous Camping) is the latest development for those inclined to be nearest the action and not at a distant or ratty hotel come raceday. IMS seized an opportunity to capitalize on this and the new ‘Glamping’ zone is set for the infield this May at the Greatest Racecourse in the World((tm), I think)


It also spawned a nice twitter interchange among some of us with a predilection for 80s/90s club rap and, given my penchant for parody lyrics here on the blog, one song became clear to me as the semi-unofficial, not-at-all-in-accordance-with-copyright-law, unapproved Glamp Camp Song of 2014 – Glampty Dance. The “Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground, is a staple of dance parties since it was released in 1990. Classic braggadoccio rap lyrics over a great funky drum and bass loop mixed with memorably humorous and well-paced lyrics, the original with video can be heard here.

And now for your entertainment, set the original track on your iPod/YouTube player/CD player and sing along as I present to you, the parody lyrics – Glampty Dance:  

All right!
Stop whatcha doin’
’cause I’m about to ruin
the style of campin’ that ya used to.
It looks funny,
but IMS makin’ money, see
so, yo world, I hope you’re ready for me.
Now gather round
I’m the new camp in town
and my tent’s laid down on th’ Innerground.
I drink up all the Fuzzy’s that ya got on ya shelf
so just let me introduce myself
My name is Glampty, pronounced with an ‘Ampty’.
Yo ladies, oh how I love like to Pamp’ thee.
And all the fires in the Coke-Lot – please allow me to stamp thee.
I’m campin’ tall, y’all,
just like Benny Benassi
and if ya not, ya fall like a pit wall Ganassi.
I like to chill,
I like my camp funky,
I’m spunky. I like a Brazilian named ‘Junqy’.
I’m sick wit dis, straight gangsta camp
but sometimes I get all Natty-up
I’ll eat up all your Cheez-Its and your Ramen Cup
hey yo track girl, c’mere-are ya tattedup?
Yeah, I saw ya tatts.
Look at me, I’m clean
It never stopped me from gettin’ mean
I’m a freak
I ask the girls ‘show your b**bs’
I once got busy in an infield bathroom
I’m lazy.
Driving to track is crazy.
They say I’m a newbie but it just don’t faze me.
I’m still seein’ all the tramp-stamps
and I see ‘em from my own camp

[Chorus:]
The Glampty Camp here’s yo chance to do the Glamp
Do the Glampty Camp, come on and do the Glampty Camp
Do the Glampty Camp, just watch me set a Glampty Camp
Do ya know what I’m doin’, doin’ the Glampty Glamp
Do the Glampty Camp, do the Glampty Camp

[Verse 2:]
People say “Yo, Glampty, you’re trailer’s funny lookin'”
that’s all right ’cause I get things cookin’
Ya stare, ya glare, ya constantly try to compare me
but ya can’t get near me
Givin’ out booze, tunes, see, and a dance floor, B,
all the girls they adore me
Oh yes, ladies, I’m really bein’ sincere
’cause I’m not stuck in traffic, I can service ya here.
My camp is big, uh-uh I’m not ashamed
Big like a compound, I’m still gettin’ laid
I get paid by the glampers, ya know I’m in charge,
both how I’m livin’ and my camp is large
We like to get ‘you know’, we getting freaky like Juno,
I use a word that don’t mean nothin’, like ‘Duno’
I sang on Drivewhutchalike, and if ya missed that,
I’m the one who said just ‘show ‘em all ya tramp tat’.
Also told ya that I like to camp
Well, yeah, I guess it’s obvious, I also like to Glamp.
All ya had to do was give Glampty a slot
and now I’m gonna rock this spot…

[Chorus]

[Breakdown:]
Oh, yeah, that’s the break, y’all
Let me throw a little firepit right here, yo
Oh, yeah!
Now that I told ya a little bit about myself
let me tell ya a little bit about this camp
It’s real easy to do–check it out

[Verse 3:]
First I’m camping in my 30 cause my Prevost is broken
Shakin’ and twitchin’ and my transporter’s smokin’
Crazy wack campy
People say ya look like Martha Stewart on crack, Glampty
That’s all right ’cause my camp is in motion
It’s supposed to look like a mosh or a commotion
Anyone can camp this way
This is my camp, y’all, Glampty’ Glamp’s my name
No two people will Glamp the same way
Ya gotta glamp, turn Indy night into day.
Humpin’, funkin’, jump right,
jig around, rockin’ ya campsite,
and when the yellow shirt chump blows a whistle in ya’ camp
tell him step off, I’m doin’ the Glamp.

[Chorus]

Race Fans, do the Glampty Camp, do the Glampty Camp
Track Workers, do the Glampty Camp, do the Glampty Camp
Die-hards, do the Glampty Camp, just keep on doin’ the Glamp
Yellow-shirts, do the Glampty Camp, do the Glampty Camp

Let’s get stoopid!

[Chorus]

[Outro:]
Once again, the Innerground is in the house
From the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,
keep on doin’ the Glampty Camp,
and to the Coke Lotters,
peace and glamptiness forever…

DZ’s Davidsonian-Rambling Trip Memories… 2004 – Act III: Fin.

(CONTINUED FROM PART 2)
…I used every bit of personal soft good to insulate my head from sound, returning to whatever form of rest I could muster…

The next sound I remember hearing was the pitter of a merciful light rain on the tent. I noticed a more balmy temperature as well and settled my mind back to sleep. Waking with the traditional BOOM of the 5am gate-opening shells, we also continued to relax as the rain was also pittering away. I had warned the lads of the impending alarm and we lounged further into the AM.

Once I noted a rather significant presence of daylight, I was surprised to find we had slept to  just a tick before 9AM.  9AM??!! Recognizing the rain had stopped, I bolted up and out of the tent, fearing we were about to need a mad dash just to make it through Gate 6 and into our seats, likely missing much of the beloved pomp and circumstance.

Hearing via the WIBC radio coverage that the morning track schedule was delayed approximately 2 hours settled me into thinking about getting to some breakfast, water, and Acetaminophen into the system pronto. The others rose as well and quickly we fired up the mini gas-grill and polished off a hearty breakfast, secured the belongings and got ready for the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. 

Short of recapping the race, it was certainly memorable and the lads got to see a classic race start build-up. Enthusiasm was short-lived however as a shower came again around Lap 27 and the 2-hour red flag seriously hampered the early momentum. Fortunately, we had PLENTY of beer for just such an occasion. Reliving the previous day’ events and we were happy to have the racing resume with Buddy Rice, Sam Hornish, and Dan Wheldon all hanging the top 3, but a crash and yellow and impending pits stops to be made for fuel, another ominous-looking storm approaching made the final strategies quite frantic. Seemingly there were lead changes every lap from 165 on and the thrill of the show was equaled only by the doom-like thrill of weather we faced to the west.

Buddy Rice was leading when heavy rains and lightning came crashing down for the final time of the race and the leader was declared the winner. Oh, “and by the way”, it came across the PA system, “please DEPART THE STANDS IMMEDIATELY – THERE ARE TORNADOES IN THE AREA!” Ever-closer lightning strikes made us scurry from the aluminum Pit Road Terrace stands and into a concrete souvenir garage for safety. Thankfully the weather radar was on the TV but it didn’t give us a very favorble overview. We passed another hour buying IMS knick-knacks for the loved ones at home (assuming we’d get to see them again), and trying to determine our next move.

The rain let up slightly and lightning seemed to subside. Some reports placed tornadoes both south and west of the Speedway area.  We decided to make our dash from the concrete cover, get wet perhaps, and dash across Georgetown into our Lot 2 confines to break down camp before doomsday struck. We were teased with a decent let-up of rain and headed for camp. About three-quarters of the way back into our run to camp, we could see the wall of rain approaching from the southwest… Time was most certainly our enemy.

The wisdom of the apparent early departure of the Wisconsin boys seemed more evident.  The air cooled as we knocked down soaked camp chairs, and began loading the van. The sweet smell of rain signaled the next wave approaching and we began to thrash violently to get the tents back to packed. Green-gray clouds enveloped us on all sides.  We knew we were losing this race so the mashing and tossing in of anything remaining was greeted with large and very cold drops, pelting us as we ambled into the van and began our navigation away from Lot 2 and hopefully away from danger.

Clearing IMS property, we asked a police officer a recommendation for evading possible tornadoes with surprisingly little assistance. We made a path to the north and west which appeared the next clearest direction, finally winding through neighborhoods to Lafayette Road area and out to 465. We cleared the Marion county North line and were felt as sense of comfort as the sky looked slightly better to the north.  Only as far as Kokomo did we make it before the trailing wall of rain hit us again and we parked at the Hardee’s for some shelter and food (and mainly for our driver whose white knuckles were evident for all to see). 

We set out North again with a much clearer vision behind and west of us. The passengers watched in disbelief as the east and south view still contained some very angry-looking skies. We later found out we had missed the Indy tornadoes by being a bit north of the danger but, passed only minutes behind the ones which hit east of Noblesville.  By stopping in Kokomo, we also missed driving right into the second wave that bounced around Lafayette and again hit near Peru, Indiana, approximately 20 minutes north of where we stopped.  Here are the tornado tracks of that day: 



Needless to say we had a few beers remaining and those of us not driving all imbibed a ‘bracer’ for our final leg home. Our exit to Indiana 24 East found no lights at all (highway or otherwise) in Peru, scattered chunks of fiberglass insulation and siding debris in areas. We all felt as if we just missed something that would’ve ruined our trip in a major way. Darkness and more reasonable calm settled in the final hour’s drive home and we were all thankful to arrive back home again in Goshen, Indiana, tired, thrilled, and a bit frazzled. Our mission to retrieve all personal effects and gear was graciously delayed to Monday. 

I don’t recall getting into bed that night. I don’t recall what I said to my wife or family either. As much as I wanted to watch the replay of the race, my mind and body let slip that day, May 30, 2004, with great memories and energy spent. 

I vowed to be content with the future decision these guys may make if they either never-ever wanted to try that trip again or if they dared to once again go with me to the 500.

They most certainly did.