Indy Fast Friday Notebook
Indianapolis 500 rookie Takuma Sato is using the iRacing.com motorsports simulation service this month to prepare for his first start in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Sato is driving the No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology car this month and in the entire IZOD IndyCar Series season after racing in Formula One from 2002-08, including a third-place finish in the 2004 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
Sato is helping Interush, Inc. introduce iRacing.com to Japanese driving game enthusiasts.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of more than 40 racetracks in the U.S. and around the world that are represented in the iRacing.com internet-based motorsport simulation service. The service is inexpensive and intended to let motorsport fans and racing games enthusiasts from all around the world practice and, if they wish, compete against friends and other fans in organized races.
The tracks and cars in the service are modeled so accurately that a professional racing driver can use them to learn a track he or she has never seen before. iRacing.com uses survey-quality laser-scanning to capture data, so the finished track is accurate to with two millimeters. Every tiny bump or change in road camber is accurately represented in the virtual version of the track.
Other Indianapolis 500 drivers who are iRacing.com members include Justin Wilson, Will Power, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dan Wheldon, Tomas Scheckter, Danica Patrick, Mike Conway, Raphael Matos, A.J. Foyt IV and Sato's fellow IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, Simona de Silvestro.
TAKUMA SATO: "Many people think that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a simple track, just four 90-degree left-hand turns. But at speeds up to 230 mph, each turn is unique, with many subtle differences that make them completely different. Like many of the other IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, I use iRacing.com to get to know these tracks better before I get out on the actual track. I am very impressed with the realism of the iRacing.com online racing simulation. Plus it's a lot of fun at the same time!"
The qualifying draw for Pole Day will take place at 6:15 p.m. tonight on the Coca-Cola Stage in the Pagoda Plaza.
Mezzo Technologies engineers Charles Becnel, Patrick Luke and Christophe Marques and Tino Belli of Andretti Autosport received the 44th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their development of the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator.
Designed to fit in the same space and use the same connectors as existing radiators, the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator significantly reduces coolant temperature with reliable, robust performance. Earlier this year, the IZOD IndyCar Series approved the technology for use by all teams.
Mezzo Technologies, based in Baton Rouge, La., also has developed cooling systems for military and other automotive use.
Increased cooling capacity results in better engine performance and greater horsepower. Unlike conventional radiators that rely on fin designs to transfer heat, the Mezzo MicroChannel Radiator uses nearly 5 miles of stainless steel micro tubes measuring less than 0.5 mm (1/50th of an inch) in diameter to reduce engine temperatures up to 8 degrees C (14 degrees F). A corrugated arrangement also increases heat transfer while keeping pressure losses low.
Developed by Mezzo Technologies in close cooperation with Andretti Autosport, the technology is now being evaluated by other race series, as well as the aviation industry.
Presented to engineers by engineers, the Louis Schwitzer Award rewards individuals with the courage and passion to explore and develop new concepts in racing technology. BorgWarner sponsors this prestigious $10,000 award, which is presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International. The winners' names are added to the Schwitzer trophy on permanent display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
Mezzo Technologies doesn't have a longtime background with racing technology, but it joins the prestigious company of past Schwitzer winners, including such legends as Andy Granatelli, Dan Gurney, Colin Chapman, Bruce McLaren, Smokey Yunick, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, John Barnard and others.
PATRICK LUKE (Mezzo Technologies): "We're a small company, and we're much like family. We're just tickled to win this award. For the Indy racing (project), Tino found us." (About award's significance): "He (Louis Schwitzer) was an amazing innovator and engineer. I don't think we know the company we're in, but I think everybody is Google-ing it back home. We're tickled."
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears talked today about working as a spotter this month for Helio Castroneves, who is attempting to match the record of four Indy victories shared by Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser.
RICK MEARS: "Helio doesn't need a whole lot of coaching or spotting. I'm a safety factor. In my mind, the driver should know what's going on around him at all times, anyway. I'm a backup in case the driver misses something. I'm going to be helping him whenever someone is getting a run on him on the outside or the inside, and those are the things I'll be telling him about. I try to stay out of his ear as much as I can and let him drive the car. I'll try to give the driver a head's up if something happens on the track up ahead so he has a quicker warning because of the closing rates and the speeds. I can also watch other cars and their lines and see if something is working better for them under the conditions on the track, and I may suggest it. I'll answer any questions Helio has and try to help him do well." (On working as a spotter for a three-car team): "I've spotted here before because it's one of the only places we need more than one spotter per car. This year, with the three cars, I will be spotting at all of the ovals. We need more spotters for the team, and that's a gap that I can fill."
The Indianapolis Star's website, indystar.com, was recently nominated for an EPPY Award by Editor & Publisher magazine in the Best Special Web Feature - News or Event category for its Indianapolis 500-Centennial Era coverage in 2009. Interviews with IMS Historian Donald Davidson were featured throughout the coverage. CNN.com, Newsweek and Boston.com are the other nominees.
Winners of the men's and women's divisions of the Little 500 bicycle race served as honorary starters today. Five members of the winning women's team, Teter Hall, and one member of the men's team, Cutters, waved the green flag.
The Cutters team is a multi-time winner of the race and were immortalized in the movie "Breaking Away," which won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
1979 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Howdy Holmes visited the track today. Holmes, 62, is a six-time Indianapolis 500 starter, with a career-best finish of sixth in 1983. He started second in 1984.
HOWDY HOLMES: "Every time I come back, I am more in awe of the facility. Thinking back, it's hard to believe this thing (Indianapolis 500) really happened for me. It's like a homecoming. I really enjoy it. My best memory is when I walked out onto pit lane on race day morning in 1979, and there were hundreds of thousands of people out there. The opportunity for me to race came very late that month, and I didn't have much time to think about it. It was very easy to be overwhelmed by all the history, but I'll never forget that moment - that was the first time. The other five times I raced here, it was no more less, but that first time was different. For me, unlike most drivers, I sat in the stands since 1957, and that was my interest in racing, being a spectator. So to be on one side of the fence and then on the best side of the fence was very rewarding."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Tyce Carlson visited the track today. Carlson started the Indianapolis 500 in 1997 and 1999.
TYCE CARLSON: (Was the pressure greater in qualifying when you weren't on an elite team?): "Yes. The second you felt anything you came right in, you didn't run that second lap. So you talked to people, went back to the scales, made a change and got back out there." (What was your first qualifying experience like?): "Well, my first qualifying day was the first time I was ever in an Indy car. It was 1996, and Scott Brayton had passed. I had been looking for a ride all month after I passed my rookie orientation. Danny Ongais had moved to the Menards car, and PDM put me in their car at the last second. So I didn't have any time to think. I was like, 'All right, kid, go out there and run some laps, and let's go qualify.' So there was no time to think, so after it was done it was like, 'Wow, that just happened to me.' So the day before, I had no idea that I was going to get a ride. I woke up in the morning, I was doing yard work, and I heard what happened to Scotty (Brayton) and that the rides were changing. Big Kenny Allison, who is no longer with us, came by the house and said, 'Listen, we had been pounding the pavement all month long, so we have to go on this last day of qualifying and see if we can find anything.' I went to PDM, and they said, 'Go get your suit,' but it was in locked in Kenny's car, so I had to break in, and the rest was history."
For the second day in a row, Townsend Bell challenged his Twitter fans with a question at www.twitter.com/TownsendBell99. Today, Bell asked his fans what his first IndyCar owner Pat Patrick mistakenly called him for the first six months of his contract.
Again, the first person to answer correctly would have their Twitter ID carried on Bell's helmet today in practice. Twitter fan @GETCH20 first answered correctly, and Townsend lettered @GETCH20 on his helmet for practice today. "Thompson" is what Pat Patrick called Townsend the first half of that season.
Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson was raised in Jackson, Mich., and was childhood friends with the children of U.E. Pat Patrick., a long-time Indy car owner. Patrick was the winning car owner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982 with driver Gordon Johncock and co-owner in 1989 with Chip Ganassi for driver Emerson Fittipaldi. Years later, Townsend Bell became an Indy car driver for Patrick but never competed at Indy with him.
Indianapolis 500 team owner Sam Schmidt talked today about his strategy for Fast Friday and qualifying for the No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing car driven by Townsend Bell.
SAM SCHMIDT: "The second year really helps. Having done the deal with Ganassi last year, the only effective new variable is Townsend, and he picked up right where he left off last year. I'm really pleased with the progress today. And today is one of those days, more than anything, you don't want to screw up which you've built all week because there is no time to recover if you make a mistake. The conditions are going to be dramatically different tomorrow, so parking the car (with two hours remaining in practice) is a wise decision. We're not going to be a shot for the pole, but were definitely going to be in the hunt for the top nine. It's going to be very interesting tomorrow to see the strategy play out with three attempts and all the other changes. I'm just, overall, really pleased with where we're at right now."
Midwestern rock band The Elms performed today on the Coca-Cola Stage. The band, celebrating 10 years of making music together, formed in Seymour, Ind.
OWEN THOMAS (Lead singer, The Elms): "We had one of our songs, called 'Back to Indiana,' that premiered on the broadcast of the 2009 race. It's a song about coming home, and the state has really embraced it. So there's a little bit of a soft spot we have for this place, the state and the race. We have a great time playing here. I've never been to the race because we're on the road all the time. It keeps us away. (The Indianapolis 500) is as American as any great American sporting institution. I need to come - hopefully next year."
Drivers representing four different teams posted the top five speeds of the day today: Team Penske (Helio Castroneves, Will Power), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon), FAZZT Race Team (Alex Tagliani) and KV Racing Technology (Mario Moraes).
All 36 drivers today were separated by .7745 of a second. Fifteen drivers turned laps of 225 mph or faster today.
No driver has been in the top five on the speed charts more than five of the six days of on-track activity so far this month. A rundown:
•Five days: #9 Dixon (May 15, 16, 18, 19, 21)
•Three days: #10 Franchitti (May 15, 16, 19); #11/#43 Kanaan (May 15, 16, 20), #4 Wheldon (May 15, 18, 20); #3 Castroneves (May 15, 16, 21); #77 Tagliani (May 18, 19, 22)
Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap of the event, 227.046 mph, on Sunday, May 16.
Bruno Junqueira is still waiting for anticipated sponsorship dollars to come through to put his No. 33 FAZZT Race Team car on track this weekend.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 33 FAZZT Race Team): "I'm just watching people going around today. It's a difficult situation. We hoped to have the funds today and maybe get the car ready for the weekend. Sitting and waiting is easy, but it's difficult to go fast in a short amount of time. I think I'm prepared to do that. I don't know if it will be tomorrow or if it will be Sunday, but whenever the car is ready, I think I can qualify."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Oriol Servia talked today about his chances of landing a ride this weekend to attempt to qualify for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
ORIOL SERVIA: "At this point, it would be a miracle. I still have hope of money showing up. But it getting a little too late at this point."
A total of 45 cars are currently at the Speedway, and 45 have passed technical inspection. Thirty-seven drivers have been on the track to date and turned 1,308 laps today and 8,597 laps this month. Sebastian Saavedra turned 74 laps today, more than any other driver. There were seven cautions for a total of one hour, 36 minutes.