Drivers put on show for fans at Mid-Ohio test
"One more, Scott?" Dana Gruninger asked on behalf of his 8-year-old son, Tomas, who held an IZOD IndyCar Series and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course cap in each hand.
What was Scott Dixon to do? "Sure," said the two-time race winner at the natural-terrain course, seeking temporary shade under the Target Chip Ganassi Racing's transporter lift door as he affixed his name to both items. "Have a great day."
Indeed it was for the lad from Bellevue, Ohio, who spent a few hours in the stifling heat watching 21 drivers test on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in advance of the Aug. 5-7 Honda Indy 200. He'll be back for the race with his father, "and maybe Grandpa would like to come. I like it," he said, eyeing Sebastian Saavedra for his next autograph.
Mid Ohio, celebrating its 50th anniversary, opened its gates to spectators, who were allowed to tour the garage area to see the stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series up close, watch the sessions from the Keyhole and infield bowls and generally make a picnic lunch/dinner out of a weekday. Track personnel scattered autographed driver cards in the infield for a scavenger hunt of sorts.
"The generations of families coming out here is great for the series and the track," said Dixon, who following the test hopped a flight bound for New Zealand for a weekend dinner in honor of his former manager and is due in Baltimore on Aug. 2 to promote the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. "I see familiar faces every year, and people love watching the races here.
"The competition is so tight, which is one of the reasons we're here for testing. What worked last year may not work this year."
Added teammate and IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Dario Franchitti, the defending race winner: "We don't other teams to get ahead of us."
Track activity begins with a late-afternoon practice session Aug. 5. Practice and the three rounds of qualifications, culminating in the Firestone Fast Six to determine the PEAK Performance Pole Award, will be held Aug. 6. The green flag waves at 2 p.m. (ET) Aug. 7 (VERSUS).