33 drivers, 13 cities, 24 hours for the '500'
Alex Tagliani, who's been on auto-pilot since earning the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone for the Indianapolis 500, is an individual who tells it like it is (occasionally crossing between English and French in the process).
Congratulatory phone calls, e-mails, text messages and tweets have been flowing since his four-lap qualifying effort in the "Fast Nine" on May 21. So have interviews - scheduled and impromptu.
Tagliani had a gaggle of media members laughing over their videotape while explaining his extended absence at the Real Sports Bar - a slap shot from the Air Canada Center in Toronto and where the TV count on two levels surpasses 200 -- during a Victoria Day blitz of the city.
"I was on the phone with this guy who wanted to do an interview, and I had to tell him wait a minute. He said, 'What, you in the men's room or something?" said Tagliani, who was joined on the day of interviews and appearances by native Torontonians James Hinchcliffe and Paul Tracy (in photo to right with a Borg-Warner Trophy piece of artwork). "I said, 'Yeah, and you'll just have to wait because I'm busy. It was a long trip (from Indianapolis).
"I'm trying to be very available. I probably said 'no' to one autograph in the garage area last week. I was running to the bathroom and had to say 'no.' I feel bad about that, but what are you going to do?
"I have a hard time saying 'no' to people because we need everyone to follow our sport. We're very lucky to do what we love to do, and the fans are there to support us so the least you can do is give them your time."
The 33 starters for the 500 Mile Race traveled to 13 cities to promote the 100th anniversary race.
In Boston, Will Power, Justin Wilson and Simona de Silvestro got in some additional track time at the iRacing.com headquarters and were guests of honor at a media luncheon at The Four's Restaurant.
In New York, Indy 500 champions Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti plus Danica Patrick flipped the switch that turned the tower of the Empire State Building green (think green flag). Visits to CNN American Morning, ABC News Now, Sirius/XM, Sports Illustrated, WFAN, Fox Business, ESPN The Magazine, FOX Sports and a media roundtable at the Palm West also are part of the itinerary.
Tagliani's road trip continued May 24 when he met up with fellow front-row starters Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing at ESPN headquarters for a round of interviews across the network's properties.
The other cities with drivers attending:
Chicago: Ryan Briscoe, Graham Rahal
Cincinnati: Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Tomas Scheckter, Pippa Mann
Dallas: Marco Andretti
Dayton, Ohio: Alex Lloyd, Bertrand Baguette, Jay Howard
Las Vegas: Townsend Bell
Louisville: John Andretti, Davey Hamilton, JR Hildebrand
Miami: Ana Beatriz, Tony Kanaan, E.J. Viso, Oriol Servia
Milwaukee: Charlie Kimball, Vitor Meira, Buddy Rice
Nashville: Ed Carpenter, (team owner) Sarah Fisher
Tampa: Dan Wheldon