Seen at GP of Indianapolis - Saturday
It’s hot outside early in May, the cars are running 'backwards', and Sebastian Saavedra is on the pole. Are you sure I’m at Indy?
- What we have here at Indy feels more like a club race than a warm-up to the biggest motor sports event in the world. It’s a small crowd -- optimism exists for a 40,000 person turnout, which is what used to show up for a rainy practice session -- lots of different cars in different classes, flagging crews and people pretty much just being themselves. I spent a weekend at VIR a few weeks ago volunteering at a SCCA event, and I certainly enjoyed that experience, but... this is Indy. Or it is supposed to be Indy. I half expect a fleet of battered Miatas show up for a couple of the events today.
- Motor noises are the topic of the day here in the media center, and maybe in the paddock. I’d be surprised to find one AutoRacing1 reader who likes the current F1 engine noises. Indeed, here at the Brickyard, old timers still talk about the sounds of the Novi, which they say once rattled the stands and the internals of ever fan. I’m not sure that IndyCar is listening, but it’s reassuring that I’m not the only one that is a loud noise junky. And I’m not the only one that believes that an electric car racing series won’t work for just that reason.
- KV Racing has been a bit busy today. While it isn’t “Indy” until after this race, they’ve been making announcements as if it was officially the Indy 500 lead-up.
|Townsend Bell and his Robert Graham livery|
For starters, Townsend Bell announced sponsorship with Robert Graham today, showing off a livery that can best be described as a combination of flat black primer mixed with Janice Joplin psychedelic. And just who is “Robert Graham”? No, it’s not a relative of the famous preacher Billy Graham, but rather the clothing company. (Yes, I had to look up William Rast back in the day too.) The story goes that Townsend started wearing hats – do you recall that rather colorful hat at previous IndyCar broadcasts? – and from that he formed a relationship with the Graham people. Team officials don’t know how the paint scheme will look at speed on TV, but Townsend is always fast.
The other major announcement so far is that former Indy Lights driver James Davison will drive for KV for the Indy 500. No surprise here. What is amazing is that a young guy can scrape together enough money for the effort, and has the confidence to jump into the car for a “half” effort – 2 days of practice, qualification, another day or so of practice, and then racing the world’s biggest race. James has driving a couple of road course races in the past, but this is the first time he’s gone to Indy, or any oval, in these big cars. Hell, I’m not sure I’d be able to find my parking spot here at Indy in the amount of time he hopes to get up to speed, and my parking spot won’t reach out and put a serious hurt on me if I get it wrong. James sure got guts, for sure.
|James Davison in the Indy Media Center|
- I bumped into Sebastian Saavedra after morning practice. I asked him if he ever thought he’d hear, "Saavedra on the pole for Indy," and of course he answered that he always thought he’d be on the pole someday. Perhaps this will provide a welcome break for him, as certainly he’s lacked results so far. Perhaps he is hoping that every qualification session happens in the rain? He was 9th fastest in morning practice.
- Finally... I ran into Charlie Kimball out on pit road. I barely got a handshake in before a fan hit him up for an autograph. Then the fan began his story – “I have a son with Type 1 diabetes...” he said. The son was a huge fan of Kimball, and had Kimball model cars and such. Charlie’s qualification attempt had its issues – he’ll start 23rd out of 25 for the race – but such fans make his day. “This happens a lot more than you’d think.” No, Charlie, I can imagine that it happens quite a lot, and that the world is a better place when guys like you make some diabetic kid’s day. --Tim Wohlford, reporting from Indy (I think)!!