Overheard at Indy - Friday
The weather at the Indy track Friday certainly was not as good as Thursday. Off and on rain made it challenging for the competitors and the few thousand fans alike. The was a stiff cool wind blowing all day down the front straight toward the RC turn 1.
Speaking of fans, word in the paddock is that they sold around 30,000 tickets so far for the GP of Indy. They are hoping for a big walkup crowd. 30,000 to 50,000 is not a bad crowd for an IndyCar race, but the massive grandstands will look empty and IndyCar will come off looking like a complete loser on nationwide ABC TV.
However, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said that attendance for Saturday's inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road race "could top projections by a wide margin." He said tickets have been "really strong" since March. Boles: "Our goal was 40,000, and I really feel comfortable we're going to exceed that. If the weather is good, we could break that mark by quite a bit." He noted that a draw of 40,000 would be "three times the number who came to the opening weekend of May last year"
Chatted with Franck Montagny for a bit and he says it has been tough coming back after several years. He said the field is so close and being off by a couple of hundreds of a second makes it difficult. This is the only race he is signed to drive with Andretti right now.
While doing the road course race this weekend, all the teams have their superspeedway cars in the garages and they are being prepared for the Indy 500.
Spotted Beaux Barfield talking to IMSA engineer Scott Elkins in the garage area. Elkins used to be director of technology for the Champ Car Series. Is he just visiting friends, or looking for a job back in IndyCar?
According to AR1.com sources, we hear IndyCar has been doing a lot of aero testing recently. Rumor has it that IndyCar has twice tested a hole in the undertray (see illustration to right) to allow air to flow through in case the car gets up in the air 5 degrees or more.
|Rough illustration of where IndyCar has tested a hole in both sides of the undertray. It didn't work too well.|
As it is now, the huge undertray acts like a sail and the car flies so the idea is to let the air flow through. We hear both Marco Andretti (Indy Speedway) and Ed Carpenter (Fontana) have tested it and we hear it really messed up the handling of the car so this idea may be dead on arrival.
Davey Hamilton says, "I think the (Grand Prix of Indianapolis) is going to be cool. Simon (Pagenaud) is P1 (early), so I love that – being on top of the charts. He was second (fastest) yesterday and quick today. I think it’s cool. Unfortunately, I don’t get to be here for the race. I’m going to be racing a supermodified tomorrow in New York. Hopefully, I will catch it on TV. The road course is cool.
"It’s fast. It’s a fast road course with 125 mile per hour average speeds. It’s going to get faster as rubber gets down. For a 14-corner road course, that’s cookin’. The great thing is, after being out there with the two-seaters, there are plenty of good passing zones. I think it is going to be a great race. I hope it is supported. I hope it’s the right move for everybody. I think the excitement is here. I mean, we’re at Indy. That hasn’t changed. I dig it."
Robin Miller is going to raise money for charity this evening by allowing himself to be dunked in a pool of water if any person paying money (for charity) can throw a ball and hit the target (like what you see at the State fair). Ed Carpenter told Robin his buddy Anton George was going to come and try to dunk him. The joke in the paddock is that fans would collectively pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a chance to dunk Anton after what he did to the sport they loved. I would have been there and emptied my wallet for the chance.
Spotted Katherine Legge at the track today but did not have a chance to catch up with her to see if she is trying to put together a ride for the 500. And St. Pete and Toronto race promoter Kim Green was making the rounds.
Tomorrow's standing start in front of the main grandstand is going to be spectacular. Imagine what a hoot it would be if the Indy 500 started from a standing start right there in front of the grandstands. It would be sensational and the fans would go wild. Therefore IndyCar will never do it. Why thrill the paying customer when you can bore them with a strung out rolling start disguised as a parade?
From the oops department, IndyCar never scheduled a driver autograph session for the fans this weekend. Maybe they figured no fans were showing up for this race so why bother. Mark C. reporting from Indy