Final thoughts on the Greatest Spectacle in Raining

Posted by Iannucci | 5/29/2007 | 5 comments »
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Sorry to sound like Larry King, but here are some final unstructured notes from my trip. All images contained were shot by P1 and are the exclusive property of My Name Is IRL. (I always wanted to say that.)

In a radio interview after the race Davey Hamilton said he would like to try to get another deal to run again at Indy next year. A top 10 finish has a way of raising the confidence.

Nothing like waiting out a rain delay by eating a brat out of a hamburger bun. Feeding nearly half a million people must be a logistical nightmare, but come on people.

Watched Tony Stewart’s father interviewed on local TV in Indianapolis, and he said his son still has his eye on coming back to run in the Indy 500 someday. Not sure how that will happen, but look forward to the rumors to continue for the next decade.

While staying in Terre Haute I drove past the old Tony Hulman residence. It’s not as large as you would think, and it’s located next to a mosque. The current family estate is humongous, though.

By the way, if you are ever in Terre Haute you have to snag some Square Donuts. Best. Donuts. Ever.

The most impressive thing about Jaques Lazier’s race – where he was hanging around the Top 10 much of the day – was that he did it in one of those updated Panoz chassis. That car was dialed in. Considering the Panoz was already the superior road/street chassis, it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected to see a lower budgeted team appear with a Panoz later this year.

Still, in six starts in the Indy 500 Jaques has finished behind his brother Buddy all six times.

The loudest cheer of the day was when Danica Patrick passed Marco Andretti and moved into 2nd behind Tony Kanaan. There are all sorts of reasons to like or dislike her, but if she ever actually wins the race they’re going to burn the place down (figuratively, I hope).

Saw Robin Miller being driven around the infield on a golf cart before the race. I didn’t say anything, and it appeared no one else recognized him. Isn’t he supposed to be famous?

The slowest car all day appeared to be the #50 driven by Al Unser Jr, which was quite the opposite of the 50 Years of Foyt celebration that car was intended to represent. If that was Little Al’s last run at Indy it was almost as undignified as his recent legal troubles. Must be Karma.

There is no workout quite like hauling a cooler, beer, water, soft drinks, sandwiches, chips, binoculars, scanner, headset, scanner frequency list, spotters guide, sunscreen, aspirin, ear plugs, seat cushion, hat, umbrella, jacket, and of course tickets (with ticket holder) around a 2.5-mile race track. Try this in the rain for burning even more calories.

Watching teams like Panther (Vitor Meira), Vision (Tomas Scheckter) and Rahal Letterman (Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons) battle near the Top 5 late in the day was shocking. Not sure if it was due to the single fuel setting or a month of practicing, but for at least one race the series wasn’t just a three-team battle.

TV cannot due justice to the eeriness of 400,000 people standing silently during the playing of “Taps”.

Watching Marco Andretti’s vehicular violence on the video board made me wonder what Michael Andretti would have done had his son not walked out of the car. As a father I can’t imagine not parking the #39 and racing to the infield hospital. I also wonder if these thoughts will be in his mind between now and next May.

Maybe this is a stupid question, but why would Mrs Judd wear the Lamp Hat all day but then take it off when the rain start pouring? I’m telling ya, that girl ain’t right. And I don’t care who you are, how slow those cars are going, or what the photo looks like – get off the freaking race track, lady!

Went to the museum after the race and took the bus tour of the track. The tour was very cool, even at about 200 MPH less than the competitors. Taking this the day after the race made me realize they could raise the prize money for the race from the recycling refunds of the trash collected. Man, was that place a mess!

And after visiting the museum, I'd have to say this 1972 Mark Donohue winner looks the most "Indy" to me.

During the three-hour rain delay I recalled that no one had ever lost the lead on the last lap of the race before Marco did last year, and that if the rain had started to fall again while they were drying the track he would have repeated this embarrassing feat two years in a row. Tell me there isn’t a family curse here.

Judging from the empty cubicles beneath the product, it appeared the Milka Duno shirts were selling as much as any other driver. Didn’t see a single Marty Roth shirt for sale, though. Go figure.

I asked P1 afterwards what she thought of meeting MoneyCJ, and she said “He’s cool!” With a Pressdog shirt and Dan Wheldon sunglasses, who could argue with her?

Speaking of Pressdog, he’s similar to Money in that he’s not nearly as gregarious in person as you would think. I’m a total spaz compared to my contemporaries, which may be why they get to hang at the speedway with Pit Hotties Professionals like Jamie Little and Brienne Pedigo. Put it this way: I bet when they order their Bratwurst they get hot dog buns.

Last observation: We were listening to Mrs Hospenthal on the scanner late in the race on the off chance she made history, and while she was ticked when the final rainstorm hit, she quickly noted "at least one of our guys won." Maybe she's not the bad teammate she's been made out to be.


  1. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // May 30, 2007 7:30 AM  

    Sure, I meet you. THEN you put a picture of yourself on your blog.
    I've not even read all these words here because...I'm so tired.

  2. Jeff Iannucci // May 30, 2007 7:35 AM  

    Well, I finally had my young trackside photographer with me. :)

    I mean, I could have P1 snap pics of me sitting on the counch and watching races next to my laptop, but this site would lose what little credibility it has.

    Seriously though, it was great meeting you and John as well. You probably had perfect seats for the Ashley's rain dance at the end.

  3. MoneyCJ // May 30, 2007 8:32 AM  

    Great observations--esp the one about Ashley. She really does seem a little nutty, doesn't she? I thought it a bit odd how she was all about being in all the pics during Dario's big moment. Oh well, the soaked sundress kind of makes up for it all (in my sick mind at least).

    When we finally met up, I was experiencing total sensory overload (and truth be told, I was feeling no pain thanks to the enormous IMS Miller Lites). I have never experienced anything like the Indy 500. What a wild day. Good times!

  4. pressdog // May 30, 2007 9:38 AM  

    OMG. The photo P1 took of you and Money. I'm wiping a manly tear. You two are stylin' and profilin'. Amazing you could take a second from signing with the the sharpie for all your fans to get a photo. Must have had some yellow shirts keep them back for a second. As Money would say, "Pure awesomeness!"I was humbled to see you both.

  5. john clerk // June 01, 2007 6:23 PM  

    it was my 37th Indy 500... i started early at age 10. i waited out the rain delay. I've done it before, I'll probably do it again some year.

    for me, the winner of the race was Donald Davidson. in the word of the Indy 500 he should receive a special lifetime achievement Oscar. We listened to his call in show on WIBC while sitting in lot 2 going nowhere really fast. I've known Donald Davidson for years, but no matter how many times i hear him or see him or talk to him, he NEVER ceases to amaze me.

    This man should have a special web page dedicated to his random access memory. A bio-USB port should be added to his brain so all his memory can be downloaded in case something happens to him! The things he can recall are astounding. I knew there were two Miller powered Bowes Seal Fast cars in 1931, but I didn't realize their car numbers were 23 and 24. Nor could I name the riding mechanics. For Donald Davidson, that's as simple as recalling your own phone number.

    I'm not sure how many years he's been with the speedway, but I'd love to see a special tribute to him soon.

    And I have a BEEF with the IMS (are you listening, Tony?) ... they need a walk-over at the intersection of gasoline alley and behind the F1 garages/pit road terrace. It's impossible to get through on race day, and it annoyed the hell out of me because I had to walk ALL the way back around past back side of the garage and transport area to get to my seat near the Pagoda. I spilled my beer. Tony George owes me one.

    On a scale of one to 10, 2006 being a 8, 2007 was a 7.