IndianapolisMay 20, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C
Day Two – First Day of Qualifying
Canon EOS 7D MK II
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II – from CPS
EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM – from CPS
I was up at 5:00 am. I needed to arrive early, if I wanted to get my spot in the Press Box again. It was misting outside as I was driving. I just assumed it would blow over. It did, but it was cloudy and cool. When practice opened, only a hand-full of drivers went out. Yesterday, I talked with one of the Yellow Shirts (the name for the employees who manage the flow of fans throughout the track). He and I got along and we talked about the drivers and the teams. Today, there were two more Yellow Shirts working the Press Box. We had a good time talking about the drivers and what we expected to see today for qualifying speeds and who would be fast.
We were watching the weather and knew a big line of thunder storms were coming our way. Sure enough, the speedway issued a warning and we quickly had to leave the stands. It rained heavily and thundered for about an hour. We were finally allowed back into the stands by 1:30ish.
The track was soaked and you could see standing water. After a half hour, the safety trucks came out and started drying the track. I assumed it would take three hours or more to dry it!!! Nope, the sun came out and it was mostly dry in an hour. They send another hour drying the stubborn spots.
When I watched on TV, the place always looked full. Maybe it was the rain, but it was just a little busier than a normal weekday practice session. As the afternoon went on, it seemed to get busier!
Because of tradition, the qualifying rules and program are a little messed up!! Through the 1990’s, there were always way more cars than the thirty-three cars that would start the race. The traditional qualifying process was spread over two weekends. The first Saturday, the top eleven were locked in, however, all fully qualified car’s times were kept. On Sunday, the next eleven were locked in. On the next weekend’s Saturday and Sunday, the last eleven are set. That weekend was the last throw of the dice for the rest. That Sunday was referred to as “Bump Day.” Up until 6:00 pm, there would be last minute deals for cars and drivers, as well as, cars making a last-ditched effort to find a little more speed. It was great drama and I do miss it. In those days, the cost to field a car and take a chance of getting into the race was acceptable. That was then – now, the cost to just show up at Indy is a couple million dollars.
Indycar underwent a “split” in 1996 and it devastated the sport. It is way too long of a story for this blog, but it hurt the interest in Indycar. While the split was healed in 2008, the interest in IndyCar stayed about the same. With the new car that was introduced in 2012, the racing has gotten much better. In fact, the last three years have been the best racing I have seen anywhere. Sadly, the interest in IndyCar has barely increased.
Now back to the “new” qualifying rules. It has been difficult to get the thirty-three cars needed to fill the field, so there is no more bumping. All cars that show up get into the field! They shortened the qualifying into two days on the weekend before the race. To have some resemblance of bumping, the first day is only used to separate the “Fast Nine” from the other twenty -four drivers. No times are kept, only the order that you qualified in determines which group you are in. Both groups go again on Sunday and that time is used to determine starting position. However, you cannot move to another group if you are faster or slower. It is a contrived method to determine starting position!!! There must be something better!!!!
With the shortened time to qualify today because of the rain, everyone was going to have one opportunity to qualify. If there had been more time, some cars could go out again to better their time. It was interesting to watch the drivers get as much out of their cars as they could. Several cars touched the wall coming off Turn 2. They didn’t lose much speed after touching the wall!!!!
As each car went out, the speeds generally increased. Sebastian Bourdais was putting in the fastest laps at the time when he lost the rear of the car. It shot straight into the wall and the car tumbled!!! It was one of the nastiest wrecks I have seen. He fractured his hip and pelvis in several places.
There were drivers that you would have just assumed they would be in the fastest group. They were setting times that would put them around fifteenth to twenty-fifth!!!! I was surprised to see these drivers back this far!!!
When qualifying was finished, I was happy that Will Power was in the top nine. Tomorrow they get to run again to determine the final starting positions!!!
Here are the “Fast Nine:”
1) Ed Carpenter - 230.468 mph
2) Takuma Sato - 230.382 mph
3) Scott Dixon - 230.333 mph
4) JR Hildebrand - 230.205 mph
5) Alexander Rossi - 230.148 mph
6) Will Power - 230.072 mph
7) Fernando Alonso - 230.034 mph
8) Tony Kanaan - 230.007 mph
9) Marco Andretti - 229.924 mphRead more
Day One – On the Road to Indy
Canon EOS 7D MK II
EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
I wanted to get to the practice called “Fast Friday.” This is the last full-day practice before qualifying. All of the will teams switch to qualifying setups and tune them before tomorrow. It starts at noon and I have seven hours of driving to get there!!!
As much as I wanted to be packed and ready to go, I had to finish packing and loading the car. I finally left a half hour later than I wanted. I queued up some podcasts and started the drive. It was uneventful, until I got close to Indianapolis. I had been monitoring the weather for Speedway, Indiana every time I stopped. I knew there was a chance for rain, but hoped it would miss the track. About fifteen miles out, it started to rain – slowly at first. Then it just poured!! And it poured for about ten minutes. I thought that it would wash out Fast Friday. I was already thinking about going to my “hotel” rather than going to the speedway. I finally decided to go to the speedway to drop off some lenses at CPS and see what was happening.
Just as I got to 30th Street, the rain tapered off and was finished right before I got to the speedway. I quickly grabbed my stuff and went to CPS. However, it was not going to be open until tomorrow!!!
The sun was out and the track was drying. I did a quick tour of the garage area and went to the Press Box. The track was almost fully dry. By the time they put up the Green Flag to open practice again, there was two hours left for the cars. Before the rain, Sebastian Bourdais did a lap at 233.116 mph. After the rain, most were in the 230 to 231 mph range.
I was sitting in the Press Penthouse (the old Press Box). In the olden days, reporters from newspaper all around the world would sit in this area and type their reports. Now-a-days, there is little interest in IndyCar racing in the news. Something bad must happen to a driver before it gets any coverage!! The Press Box has two rows of metal folding chairs in a level just below the Penthouse seats. It is a quiet area. No one seems to know it is here!!! It has excellent views of the front stretch and Turn 1!!
The TV and radio had enclosed booths on the same level. Those are off-limits to attendees because they are still in use. Because of Fernando Alonso, there is increased interest from Spanish and other European countries.
After I left the track, it was time for dinner and shopping. The prices for burgers and sandwiches is getting too expensive. Last year, I packed my lunch every day. I got all the supplies I needed for a few days.
Now it was time to check out my “hotel.” As I pulled up, the neighborhood looked sketchy. The lawn hadn’t been mowed yet this year or the last!!! I got the key and went in. Hmmmm, the living room was a mess. The sign on the wall tells the occupants to clean once a week. I don’t think it has been cleaned in a few years. I peeked into the kitchen and did not want to enter. I went upstairs and looked at my room. It was the only clean room in the house!!! Now, I need to be fair. I am only paying $16 a night and I was told it was college student housing.
My daughter Mary is getting college student housing in Manhattan this summer. I made a bet as to who had the worst place. I think I won. She is disputing that. I will take pictures tomorrow and we will settle it!!!Read more
It is time again to go to the Indy 500. Last year was excellent, as I did the whole two weeks. The May schedule is about two weeks. They have some rookie orientation practice, the Indy Grand Prix, a week of practice, two days of qualifications, more practice, and finally – the Indy 500! I could not do the two weeks this year, but I was able to do one week. The original plan was to bring a tent and camp for the week. On a lark, I looked at AirBnB. There was a place for $16 a night. I'm not expecting much.
I got the Bronze Badge again this year. It allows me to go into the garage area and free parking. (except race day). I will get to walk around and, hopefully, meet some of the drivers. I really want to get a picture with Fernando Alonso!
I am also looking forward to the Canon CPS room. I can go in and take out just about any Canon camera and lens for the day!! I'm going to love the 1DX and cannot wait to try it out!!!
Fernando Alonso is skipping the Monaco Grand Prix. He has always wanted to race at Indianapolis. Since his F1 car is very noncompetitive, he has nothing to lose by skipping Monaco.
It is shaping up to be an excellent time this week. I cannot wait to get there!!!!!Read more