The iconic Lotus yellow stripes atop the helmet worn by Takuma Sato in the Indianapolis 500 accentuated the side panel images of his No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology car and the ’65 Indy-winning Lotus 38 driven by Jim Clark.
Jason Fowler of England devoted 45 hours to creating the one-off piece with the aid of a computer and steady hand with an air brush. Obviously, as the corresponding video details, there’s a lot more that goes into it.
“I was really pleased with how the helmet looked as it was a challenge fitting the detailed airbrush pictures into such a small area,” Fowler said in a phone interview from his London headquarters. “We were also working against the clock as the helmet was only commissioned a few weeks before the race so there were quite a few late nights worked to make sure it was finished in time.”
“The helmet seemed to work well from both angles; the airbrushed pictures gave it the ‘Wow!’ factor and the classic Lotus stripes were still visible from a distance.”
Fowler, who used to customize his helmets with stickers and paint while racing motorcross in the early ‘80s and paint helmets for friends, left his day job to start his own business customizing helmets. Dan Wheldon, E.J. Viso and Lewis Hamilton are among his longtime clients.
“I had wanted to go to the Indy 500 for many years and finally got to go this year,” he said. “It was the best motor racing experience I have ever had, and I was amazed at the scale of the event. More than anything, I was impressed with the atmosphere and the accessibility of the whole event and the way the fans were encouraged to be integral to the race.”
“I had three drivers wearing our helmets in the race (Wheldon, Viso and Sato) and it was a really proud feeling to be just a small part of such an iconic race. I’m definitely coming back next year.”
The Road to Indy continues this weekend at Iowa Speedway for the final combined show of the 2010 season with the IZOD IndyCar Series. It’s also the final oval on the schedule for both Star Mazda and USF2000. More on this weekend’s event in just a few sentences…
When we last checked in, we were getting set for Indianapolis. By now you probably know that Wade Cunningham (Firestone Indy Lights), Conor Daly (Star Mazda) and Patrick McKenna (USF2000) won their respective series’ events in Indianapolis. Nice work, boys.
Indy Lights Drivers #77 Wade Cunningham & #26 Charlie Kimball at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Year after year, Indianapolis 500 drivers gather with racing big wigs, celebrities, and even a few lucky people like me, to join together in celebrating the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. On Monday night, we all braved the rain to honor Dario Franchitti in his second win and the 32 other drivers on their efforts. Now, I could tell you about the $13,592,815 in purse money given away that evening or the highlights of Franchitti’s spot on performance on Sunday. But there are other places you can read about that. I’d like to share with you a few other highlights, from the perspective of a lucky girl.
This was not the IMS Event Planning Teams’ first rodeo – err, race. Per usual, yellow shirts galore guided us to the speedway pavilion where we were greeted at our cars by golf carts to get us into the banquet, and out of the rain. Upon entering the tent was a bar offering The “Caipirindy”, based off of Brazil’s “National Cocktail” the Caipirinha, or what driver E.J. Viso tells me – a headache. There was another signature drink available called The “Finish Line” but quite honestly I passed because it looked like a cross between a Bloody Mary and a berry smoothie. Then again, maybe that was just Sunday’s festivities haunting me.
After a bit of mingling (for me this consisted of smiling and waving as I hunted down something other than a Caipirinha) we were seated to a meal of standard banquet food, and the show began. Side note on the subject of seating here: this year the members of the board, the Hulman-George Family, the drivers, and guests were seated at long banquet tables, rather than the usual round tables. Good for TV, bad for me as I quite enjoy secretly observing the expressions of the guests throughout the evening…annnnnd I think I just discovered one of the reasons that’s changed.
The introduction “short film” was incredibly well done and I would say the best opening of the Victory Celebration I’ve seen in the five years I’ve been attending. In fact, I meant to ask Terry Angsted and John Lewis, with whom we were seated if they’ve looked into their SAG cards yet. Move over, Brad Pitt.
Borg Warner Trophy
The evening was full of jokes and thank you’s, tears and even a little prescription drug use – ahem, Ryan Hunter Ray. In all honesty, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t catch myself doodling once or twice (no offense Dave Calabro) but at the end of every Victory Celebration there comes a moment. You see the winner and their team on stage, applauded by their peers and admirers. And you see the look in their eyes when they look at the Borg Warner Trophy and know that their face will be forever etched in history as a winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” And in that moment that you know it’s not about the purse money, or the cocktails, or the high end production television.
This year’s 500 will be remembered for many things. It will be remembered not only as the hottest race on record and for Dario’s second win, but also for Danica’s charge to 6th after starting 23rd, and Alex Lloyd’s heroic battle to 4th.
The winner's stuff
Bottles Photo info: f/2.8 at 1/1000 with 50 mm. lensbaby
Working in the pits on race day allows me to watch these stories unfold firsthand. Shooting Dale Coyne eagerly watching his crew at work, and Danica climbing from her car after an exhausting day, are among the shots I cherish most. These are the moments you feel fortunate to capture. I’ve been told… “If you see it through the viewfinder you’ve missed it.” Fortunately, for both these moments, my shutter got in the way and I did not miss the shot.
This weekend we strived to cover the race in its entirety. This obviously meant getting fans up-close and personal with their favorite drivers and teams. In addition to the obvious, it meant live blogging exclusive race weekend coverage from all pre-race, race and post-race activities. Truthfully, I felt privileged to be working with the new media department who was working overtime to roll out innovative web content that focused on you, the race fan.
In fact, my personal highlights from race weekend were getting to know the fans better. What can I say?-Race fans…you rule! Every day at the track, I looked forward to finding the next super fan that would claim the title “Fan-of-the-Day.” Featured here.
We can’t believe it’s over! Thanks so much for following the Indy 500 Live Blog. Catch up with the next installment of race action at Texas Motor Speedway this coming weekend for the Firestone 550K Race. (BC, DI, DL, JK, KM)
Sunday, 4:43 p.m.
We’re now uploading lots of images to the IndyCar.com site and our Flickr page. Check back for some amazing shots from throughout the day and race. (DI)
The crowd is on their feet! THIS IS IT! 4…3…2…1…laps to go. Who is going to make it? Oh no! Mike Conway’s car goes airborne on the last lap, the most serious crash by far today. (BC)
Sunday, 3:43 p.m.
The fans at the Snake Pit are having a blast! Took a short trip out to turn three and the official Snake Pit tent. The party tent is bumping music by DJ Eddie while race fans swarm. This is the only place to be during the race if you want a legit party scene. These fans will continue partying until the end of the race and long after. Did I say end of the race? Only 48 laps to go!
Text INDYCAR to 234-500 to receive text message alerts that will include important details concerning the race.
Race Control on IndyCar.com
Watch the race on Race Control presented by iRacing.com with Verizon live timing and scoring at racecontrol.indycar.com. Check out this camera view. (BC)
Sunday, 1:55 p.m.
The Indy 500 is a trending topic right now on Twitter. The hash tag, #indy500 is now up to 4th position in terms of Trending Worldwide Topics. I wonder if the #indy500 can win today? If you’re not following us on Twitter, check us out, @IndyCarNation. And if you’ve never heard of Twitter, you can learn about it, here. The article is longer than 140 characters. (DI).
“It wasn’t my fault,” Pace Car driver Robin Roberts says when informed that there’s a car that made contact in Turn 2 on the green flag lap. (DL)
Sunday, 12:04 p.m.
Another outstanding opening to the 500 Mile Race broadcast by ABC and IMS Productions — the theme being “Who wants it?” — with the significance of Memorial Day worked in. (DL)
Sunday, 11:46 a.m.
Anthony Thomas of Minnesota — the 2 millionth Eagle Scout — marched in the parade around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with other Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and part of the promotion is an association with Dale Coyne Racing. BSA’s centennial logo is on the sides of the No. 19 car driven by Alex Lloyd throughout the IZOD IndyCar Series season. The millionth Eagle scout was honored in 1982. (DL)
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
ESPN’s production of the 500 Mile Race on ABC will use 59 cameras, including a 360-degree rotating onboard camera mounted behind the driver on multiple cars. Unique views will be provided by Track Cam, a high definition camera running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch that can move at more than 80 mph.
ABC comes on the air in 30 minutes. Here are comments from 1998 race winner Eddie Cheever Jr., part of the broadcast team: “There’s always a million different stories that develop. I really think it’s going to be a battle between Darth Penske and Darth Ganassi, who is going to control Indianapolis.
“As always, so many things develop during the race. This is a race you can prepare for years for that one special moment and something out of your control can get in the way. It will be quite an event. I think it will be an historical ending to all this. My money is on Helio Castroneves being the one to beat.” (DL)
Sunday, 11:09 a.m.
Fan of the Day- Nick Zoellner
This morning while hanging out in the Snake Pit, the crowds parted just long enough to expose Race Day-Fan of the Day. He had a small paparazzi forming around him already. Wondering why?- Read about his checkered “vest” on the Fan of the Day Blog. (BC)
Sunday, 11:04 a.m.
Jack Nicholson will be the honorary starter for the 500 Mile Race. He was among the celebrities on the red carpet this morning. “Jack, Jack! this way,” the photographers yell to get his attention.
The man is so adept at these events, but doesn’t being tugged and corralled wear on a person? (DL)
Jack Nicholson at the Indy 500
Sunday, 10:47 a.m.
How does Justin Wilson prepare for the race? “Just get up and go,” he says. “I feel remarkably relaxed.” (DL)
A relaxed Justin Wilson
Sunday, 9:53 a.m.
Bob Jenkins, VERSUS’ lap-by-lap announcer of IZOD IndyCar Series races, is celebrating his 50th anniversary of watching the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in person. He has a few recollections:
My first in-person visit to the place I had seen so many times in pictures and on television was on May 18th, 1957. It was Pole Day and my dad and I watched between rain showers from a top our car parked up next to the fence in the third turn. Pat O’Connor dashed to the pole at an unbelievable four-lap average of 143.984. At age 9, I was hooked. The love and respect I have for the place has never left me.
Sid Collins’ radio broadcasts of the race, qualifying and a 7:15 weeknight program called “Speedway Gossip” on WIBC maintained my fascination with the place, as I hoped and even prayed that someday when I was old enough, I would get to go to the 500. That opportunity happened in 1960.
For my family, Memorial Day each year meant traveling to Lafayette, Ind. That’s where my mom’s parents are buried, and our annual trek from my hometown of Liberty was to place flowers on the graves of her relatives. I never liked doing that though it always made my mom cry.
But 1960 would be a bit different. We still went to Lafayette, but this year my dad would fulfill my wishes and take me to the big race; what Collins always called on radio “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” We drove to downtown Indianapolis, parked at Union Station and boarded the train for the Speedway. I don’t remember much about the short trip there, except for a lady who asked me a lot of questions. I had no time for small talk. I was too excited about getting to the track, in my seat and waiting for the command from Mr. Hulman.
Our seats were in Grandstand “C”…right on the frontstretch, and right across from the pits. The cars were being pushed to their starting spots when we got there. The roar when the 33-cars came down for the green flag was deafening — just the way I wanted it. I don’t remember sitting down all race. Thoughts of eating lunch or going to the bathroom would just have to wait until all the excitement was over.
The 1960 ‘500’ was one of the most exciting to date. There were 29 lead changes among five drivers but it boiled down to a battle between Jim Rathmann and Rodger Ward. I vividly remember standing in my seat looking toward Turn 4 nearly every lap near the end of the race, to see which one was leading. I’d yell his name to my dad, who was probably enjoying watching me as much as I was watching the race.
Rathmann went on to victory when Ward had to slow down because he was wearing out his right front tire and decided rather than risk a crash, he would settle for second.
On the walk back to the train, a guy was selling an “extra” that the Indianapolis News would print throughout the race. The headline wasn’t about Rathmann’s win, but about a homemade scaffold that had collapsed in the infield killing two people. It seemed strange that the race was safe, but death had visited the Speedway once again this time in the infield. Never again would scaffolds, that people used to build to get a better look, be permitted.
The 1960 race was special because it was my first ‘500’, and also because I shared it with my dad. He’s largely responsible for my passion for racing. Although not nearly as “crazy about it” as I became, he continued to attend the ‘500’ and as many other races as possible until just before his death in 1988.
I’ve only missed two ‘500s’ since 1960 — in ‘61 and ‘65, and I’ve been working at the race in one capacity or another since ‘79.
I wouldn’t even venture a guess as to how many times I’ve been to the Speedway. But every time I enter I think about my dad and get the same indescribable feeling as I did the very first time I visited. (DL)
Sunday, 8:30 a.m.
Recently discovered film of Amelia Earhart shows the famous aviator talking to drivers before the start of the 500 Mile Race. She was the honorary referee for the 1935 race. Two years later she disappeared during an around-the-world flight in a Purdue University-funded plane. (DL)
Sunday, 7:15 a.m.
Earlier I stepped outside to grab some sunrise shots. I noticed the Borg-Warner Trophy being wheeled into the Pagoda. I was separated by some gates and didn’t have much time to react but I did manage to snap this shot. It made me think of the tradition behind this race and how many times the trophy has been moved into place. (DI).
Getting the trophy ready
Sunday, 6:00 a.m.
The percussion bomb just went off: GATES ARE OPEN! The sun is slowly sneaking up over the grandstands as the fans begin to pour in for the greatest spectacle in racing. It’s finally here; welcome to the Indianapolis 500. (BC)
Sunday, 5:32 a.m.
I came in on 16th Street and stayed in the outside lane. It was a lot easier than I thought. There were cars lined up on the inside lane for well over a mile. People wandered in and out of cars, drinking beer, socializing and waiting for the gates to open. It’s quite a scene. Right now I’m looking at the track and it’s completely dark – seems surreal. Good morning everyone! (DI).
Race Day 5am
Saturday, 11:22 p.m.
Just finished my second Red Bull as the new media crew uploads images, but that’s what it takes for great coverage! Camp Freddy is about to take the stage on Monument Circle and Race to the Party is still underway. We are all excited- the 2010 Indianapolis 500 is just hours away! (Gates open at 6 a.m.) The blog, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr will all be in full operation, with the latest news from the Snake Pit, Miller Lite Party deck and of course the race! Also, make sure to check out Race Control for live timing and scoring. (BC)
Saturday, 10:02 p.m.
The Darling Stilettos are rocking the stage now on Monument Circle. The IZOD FANtasy 500 Party is also underway at the Hilbert Theater, tons of celebrities and race fans entering on the red carpet. What a night to be downtown! We will be keeping the pictures coming all night! Stay tuned to the blog and our Flickr stream. (BC)
Ron Perlman, Jen Morrison and more at the IZOD Fantasy 500 Party
Saturday, 9:03 p.m.
Spotted at Race to the Party: Dan Wheldon, Jewel, IZOD Girl, Bruce Jenner, Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Courtney Kardashian, Al Unser Jr., Mark Whalberg, Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner, Pro Football Hall of Famers and lots more! Check out the pictures on IZOD IndyCar Series Flickr set here: Race to the Party. (BC)
IZOD Girl poses for the Paparazzi
Saturday, 8:26 p.m.
Just spotted Kim Kardashian on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Party. Kim was incredibly friendly as she stopped to take pictures and talk to reporters. She even took the time to pose with the Indianapolis 500 Princesses. (BC)
Kim Kardashian with Indy 500 Princesses
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Hanging out at Race to the Party in downtown Indianapolis (on the circle) come join us! There is a live concert going on, Rising Sons is opening up for Camp Freddy and tons of other pre-race festivities are happening. There is a IZOD FANtasy 500 Party presented by GQ and a Vanity Fair Party going on. Don’t worry we will be taking tons of pictures and uploading them as soon as we can. Make sure to keep checking the blog for the inside scoop on everything Indy 500. (BC)
Saturday, 7:08 p.m.
Before we left the track to come downtown to cover the pre-race parties (photos of drivers/celebs to come) we had to find a fan-of-the-day. We set off to the campgrounds and found Eamonn Brandon. The campgrounds were packed with race fans grilling out, partying and enjoying the beautiful weather. Check out his fan-of-the-day profile here: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan of the Day. (BC)
Fan of the Day- Eamonn Brandon
Saturday, 4:02 p.m.
Dario Franchitti received a bagpipe serenade on his birthday last week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Scot received even more Friday night when he was inducted into the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers Hall of Fame during its 48th Tartan Ball at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Indianapolis. (DL)
Saturday, 3:45 p.m.
Indy 500 Pace Car driver Robin Roberts, co-host of “Good Morning America,” is a class act.
From her address after a practice session: “Can I just say one thing? And I cannot be more sincere about this. I have been a part of Super Bowls, Final Fours, presidential inaugurations, have traveled the world. The people here at Indy and the people who run this race are so superior over any people that I have been associated with an event. Their passion, their hospitality, their gratitude, they really get you excited about being here. Don’t lose sight of what you have here and the tradition, the pageantry, the beauty, the athleticism and all of that. You are so incredibly blessed. I just really appreciate being a part of it.” (DL)
Robin Roberts this morning
Saturday, 3:36 p.m.
We’ve been downtown for the “500″ Festival Parade, at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course for the IZOD Celebrity Golf Tournament and in the Pagoda for video interviews with some our longest standing ticket holders. Not to mention a blogger forum, driver autographs and driver meeting. Some of us are out in the Camp Grounds doing video interviews, and the rest will be headed downtown shortly to prepare for tonight’s festivities. If you’re plans are open tonight, check this page out. (DI)
Any guesses who this is?
Saturday 2:23 p.m.
More photos from the 500 Festival Parade downtown. So many celebrities are in Indianapolis this weekend! (BC)
Marco with Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian
Saturday, 12:40 p.m.
The 500 Festival Parade began at noon downtown. Before the parade drivers met up in the parade green room. (JK) snapped a photo for us:
Drivers get ready for the 500 Festival ParadeThe parade will conclude at 2:00.
The parade will conclude at 2:00. Meanwhile, back at the track the IZOD Celebrity Golf Tournament is underway at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course. Some of the celebrities in attendance include Mark Wahlberg and Adrian Grenier! Daniel (DI) was able to capture some of the fun. (BC)
Adrian Grenier- Getting ready for some golf.
Saturday, 10:35 a.m.
All morning drivers have been having autograph sessions with the fans. Now the Public Drivers Meeting is about to start at the Tower Terrace. The crowd is cheering as the drivers enter the track, what a great day to be at IMS. I love race fans! (BC)
Saturday, 8:57 a.m.
Just finished a venti cappuccino and sitting in the Blogger Town Hall meeting organized by Paul Dalby from Planet-IRL, featuring about 15 racing focused bloggers from around the country. We’ve got IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway reps here. It’s gonna be nice to put a face with the blog – already noticing people from OpenPaddock, TheRaceGirl, MyNameisIRL, 16thandGeorgetown, FuriousWedge, Motorsport.com, and maybe a couple of others. It’s early. Need more caffeine (DI).
The Blogger Town Hall
Friday, 10:01 p.m.
Just noticed (JK) uploaded this image.
Pro Football Hall of Fame & Phillips Van Heusen Cocktail Reception
I’m at home on the couch. But it looks like he’s having a good time at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with the IZOD team, former professional football players and race car drivers. Good night! (DI).
Friday, 6:08 p.m.
Miller Lite Carb Day was a huge success! ZZ Top jammed out to a large crowd-they rocked it. Then while the fans began to trickle out of the track, the sun getting lower in the sky, the new media team was uploading all of the great photos that were taken today. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll keep this post short. Check out all of the Carb Day action here on our Flickr account: IZOD IndyCar Series. (BC)
Carb Day's Pit Stop Challenge- Helio Won!
Friday, 3:15 p.m.
Once the track opened to the public this year, each day we have dedicated some time into finding “Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan of the Day.” Once we find a good candidate we ask them a couple of questions about their Indy 500 race experiences and memories. Today we selected Tara Roth. Read all about Tara here: Fan of the Day Blog (BC)
Fan of the Day- Tara Roth
Friday, 2:51 p.m.
Robbie Knievel visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since … “hmm, I remember coming here with my dad and A.J.”
The 47-year-old remembers hanging out when his father, the legendary stuntman Evel Knievel, visited with longtime friend A.J. Foyt. “My dad used to be on the A.J. Foyt pit crew and I used to ride minibikes on his ranch with his son (Tony) when I was a kid. I have a lot of great memories and follow IndyCar racing today. The history of this place is incredible. It’s cool to look up and see all the fans, and I love coming to stadiums as a fan.” (DL)
Friday, 1:46 p.m.
This race report brought to you by the New Zealand tourist board. Kiwi Wade Cunningham didn’t need directions to Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He became the first three-time winner of the Firestone Freedom 100 by holding off Charlie Kimball by 0.4368 of a seond to the checkers. (DL)
Friday, 1:08 p.m.
Two things I love. The Pagoda and clouds. Carb Day is hot, dry and filled with fans. Enjoy this picture. (DI).
Pagoda and Clouds
Friday, 12:01 p.m.
Brian Barnhart, president of competition for the Indy Racing League, is relieved. The 33 drivers who will start in the Indianapolis 500 were clean during the 60-minute final practice session on Miller Lite Carb Day (and large quantities of the beverage appear to be an early morning favorite).
Dario Franchitti tops the speed chart with a quick lap of 225.574 mph (of his 36 laps). Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon (225.159) is second. Danica Patrick, what’s the deal? She is 21st (222.306). (DL)
Friday, 11:48 a.m.
Randy Bernard takes Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” Pledge with beginner driver from the Andretti Autosport Team. The pledge asks that participants make a conscious effort not to text or use their cell phones while in the car. Additionally, all of the Indy 500 drivers have taken the pledge and signed an iPad that will be auctioned off on charitybuzz.com. (BC)
Friday, 11:30 a.m.
They announced the parking lots inside the massive Speedway are full, which lends credence to the early bird axiom. With ideal weather for fans and cars, the crowds assembling for IZOD IndyCar Series practice, the Firestone Freedom 100 and other events throughout the day are in for a treat. (DL)
Friday, 11:12 a.m.
The race fans are really starting to pour into the track for Carb Day as the IndyCars begin to practice. Don’t forget there are so many opportunities for fans to get up close and personal with sponsors and teams. If you do venture down to the track today, which you should, make sure to check out the Fan Zone located in front of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. There are a ton of sponsors giving away freebies! For instance, when you stop by the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Zone today you get a limited edition Helio Castroneves poster! Be sure to check it out. They are giving away posters until they run out! (BC)
Free Helio Posters at the IndyCar Fan Zone
Friday, 10:25 a.m.
There’s a news conference in session with Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi — the only two team owners to win the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500. Behind them are the Borg-Warner Trophy and Harley J. Earl Trophy.
Atop the Earl trophy, named after the famous car designer, is a race car that looks more like an Indy car than a hulking, slow stock car. Is this where they got the idea of the Delta Wing? (DL)
Friday, 9:30 a.m.
The season-opening race on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule has been certified carbon neutral as UNICA (the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association) confirmed that 23,580 native Atlantic Rainforest seedlings have been planted in the state of Sao Paulo.
The announcement was made on Carb Day, which should be renamed Carbon Neutral Day.
UNICA and the Indy Racing League are exploring the mechanics and logistics of making the entire 17-race season carbon neutral. (DL)
Friday – 8:45 a.m-Road to Indy Summit
The Road to Indy drivers and teams have been participating in the “Road to Indy” Summit over the past 2 days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This morning, the New Media department had the opportunity to discuss a few ways that young drivers should utilize online media and websites to begin to develop their marketability for their future driving careers. To make the presentation “stick” we enlisted everyone’s favorite online personality and the mayor of “Hinchtown”, James Hinchcliffe to speak with the group. He did a fantastic job discussing the importance of differentiating your personal life and a driver’s racing career as well as reiterating the advantages of using online tools such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. (JK)
Road to Indy Summit with Indy Lights Driver James Hinchcliffe
Friday – 7:08 a.m.
Earlier this week, the IndyCar Blog pumped out 48 hours of continuous updates that spanned visits to the ESPN studio, Boston and New York City. We had so much fun, we decided to repeat this experiment with live coverage of the Indianapolis 500 weekend, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We’re talking about the inside scoop on Carb Day, a Blogger Town Hall meeting, a Celebrity Golf Tournament, IZOD’s Race to the Party, the new Snake Pit, and of course, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Version 2.0 of live blogging will include veteran live-blogger Dave Lewandowski (DL), as well as other IndyCar staff, Beth Corneglio (BC), Daniel Incandela (DI), Jarrod Krisiloff (JK) and Kyle Morin (KM).
Although I’m more of a Mini Cooper girl, the superhero design of the electric car built by high school students at the DeLaSalle Education Center’sAutomotive Design Studio in Kansas City, Mo., has almost changed my mind.
The project’s goal is to show how simplicity and lightweight construction can impact performance and energy efficiency. Although its maximum speed is only 60 miles per hour, the electric car is equipped with high-performance Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 Wide Oval tires.
Marty Yurjevich and Jon Stuckey are two tire professionals that came to DeLaSalle to assist the students.
“After working with the school for the past couple of months, I can assure you we are taking away more than we have given to this project,” Yurjevich said. “Meeting and working with the students and mentors has been a very rewarding experience, and it is a rare occasion to utilize some of our consumer-based products for a community outreach project that not only enriches the lives of at-risk young adults, but also offers positive environmental impact. We are thrilled to offer display space at Indy to get these messages out to a wider audience.”
The electric car project has allowed the students at DeLaSalle to experience racing up close and personal. The students were invited to be guests at the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Motor Speedway, and for their car to be displayed during the Month of May at IMS.
Mario Ramirez, a newly graduated member of the engineering team, summed it up well by saying, “It blows me away that we as a bunch of high school kids have a car that we have made put on display 20 feet from a sign that reads ‘Gasoline Alley’ at the most important race in the world — the Indy 500.”
Maybe the electric car will be on highways soon, but one thing for sure is the high school students who engineered this car will be the stars of the future.
“Home, James.” It’s time to leave New York but it’s not the end of the day for many Indianapolis 500 competitors.
The regional jet is scheduled to land at 4:30, which leaves just enough time for a shower and change of clothing for sponsor dinners, media obligations and – for the fortunate ones — dinner with family and friends.
It’s been a whirlwind tour of 33 drivers, 3 cities in 36 hours. And though everyone is fatigued, there’s unanimous sentiment that it was a hit and definitely broke up the focus on the racetrack and the Indianapolis 500.
“Ready to do it again next year,” Justin Wilson says.
“I saw a lot of press, a lot of energy, a lot of excitement today where the IZOD IndyCar Series came in and was able to take over a big piece of New York and make a big image,” says Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard, who is attending his first Indy 500 promotional event on Herald Square. “Anytime you’re able to do that it’s great for your sport. IZOD, American Honda and the IZOD IndyCar staff should be cogratulated because they really worked hard on this.”
That’s about all Bernard can fit in before being whisked away to interviews at Fox Business.
Only in NYC can a gaggle of race car drivers in multi-colored and multi-logoed firesuits stoll down Broadway and — aside from cell phone photos and some ‘Good luck’ shouts — not really stop sidewalk traffic.
Honda's, IndyCar drivers and autographs
Mike Conway pauses to grab a photo of Conway Herald Square, featuring women’s apparel for $10 and under in its windows. “Another one of my stores,” the Brit says. Nice to see he’s expanding the portfolio beyond auto racing.
Patrons of Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square patiently (well, some anyway) wait to have their photo snapped in the same frame as Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves and/or Mario Andretti and get their autographs. It’s a good time to snap up IZOD wear, featuring the new Indianapolis 500 heritage series. The yellow 1911 Marmon Wasp T-shirt is my favorite.
“This is the sixth year we’ve come to New York for this day before the ‘500′ and it gets bigger each year,” says Castroneves, the pole sitter who is seeking his fourth victory. “IZOD knows how to do it big.”
It’s on to a media luncheon for all the drivers. Try the veal.
“OK, guys — and gals – look left, now right, now throw your hat into the crowd,” the instructions of Brian Gordon of Phillips-Van Heusen boom over the public-address system during a media/fan/passersby photo-video op and autograph session on Herald Square in New York.
Broadway between 35th and 34th is closed to vehicular traffic. “It’s not the Thanksgiving Day parade is it?” a shopper wearing a “I love NY” T-shirt says.
Herald Square, NYC
With 33 Honda Crosstours (nice vehicle byt the way) lined up in 11 rows of three on Broadway, the starting lineup for the Indianapolis 500 poke out of the sunroofs for the media event as hundreds of spectators anxiously await an IZOD IndyCar Series hat tossed in their direction or an autograph of their favorite drivers.
Fronting the field is Mario Andretti and the two-seat IndyCar that will lead the procession of race cars in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” May 30. The passenger in “The Fastest Seat in Sports” will be award-winning producer/actor Mark Wahlberg.
Mario Moraes emerges from the cockpit of NIRL and aplogizes for the landing at Newark International. “I tried my best,” he says with a smile from behind aviator sunglasses.
In best pilot voice: On the right side of the aircraft you’ll see the new Meadowlands Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets.
Next stop: Herald Square and the event at Macy’s flagship store.
6:55 a.m. Tuesday
Did you “Wake Up with Al Roker”? Sarah Fisher did as the team owner/driver was on the Weather Channel set bright and early. The forecast for the Indy 500 is a mid-afternoon high of 80 with plenty of sunshine. Thanks Al and Sarah.
Speaking of warm temps, the 90 degrees that blew through Indianapolis over the weekend has worked its way to New England. It will be a steamy one today in Boston and New York, where the field is headed soon for the Herald Square event.
Also, an addendum to the Robin Roberts note from Monday morning (below), her interview with Danica Patrick will air Saturday on “Good Morning America.” Roberts is the Pace Car driver for the ‘500.’
11:10 p.m. Monday
Paparazzi fill the media “bullpen” and spectators clamor for the attention of drivers and celebs who walk the red carpet to the IZOD “Race to the Party” event at Rumors nightclub on Warrenton Street in Boston (this is all between 8:45-9:15). All pose for photos with the ubiquitous “IZOD Girl,” whose name BTW is Carmen, and many are sidetracked for interviews.
IZOD girl, Carmen
“Quite a hopping place for a Monday,” says Rafa Matos. “It is Monday, isn’t it?” Yes, everyone is a little spent after the non-stop day. Before departing to take in the Celtics home playoff game — they fail to sweep the Orlando Magic — 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti poses with actor/producer Mark Wahlberg on an IZOD logoed two-seat IndyCar. “Hey, you guys coming?” says pole sitter Helio Castroneves, holding open the door of the limo, “we’re going to be late.”
Mark Wahlberg and Mario Andretti
It is getting late, but while some drivers depart for their cells (hmm, 40ish Davey Hamilton and John Andretti are noticeably among the first to leave the pounding music of the club) others chill on a white leather couch and chat, take photos of each other in groups and E.J. Viso and Danica Patrick share iPhone apps. They compete on the same racetracks, but they rarely get to spend much time together socially. For some on this rare night off (after the ‘500′ on Sunday the series swings to Texas Motor Speedway four days later), another stop is Beantown is likely in order.
“I had a stressful weekend so it’s nice to have a party to relax,” Tony Kanaan says.
Also enjoying the atmosphere is Micky Ward, a retired pro boxer whose life will be portrayed by Wahlberg in an upcoming feature film. “Mark is a perfectionist, so I expect the movie to be great,” he says. “He’s been hitting the gym hard and looks great.”
It’s wheels up at 9 a.m. for Newark, N.J., and the bus to 36th Street, where the Indy 500 starters will drive IZOD-logoed Hondas a few blocks to Herald Square for media photos/video, an autograph session with fans along Broadway and a media luncheon at Gotham Hall.
Weary drivers slide off the bus from the short (well, by distance anyway; it’s rush hour in Boston) trip from Bedford (Mass.) airport and enter the Liberty Hotel — which was a former prison. The hotel’s main restaurant is appropriately named The Clink. Lots of exposed brick and beams, but fortunately no cots in the cells, er, rooms.
The front-row starters — Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Dario Franchitti — arrive before the rest, having hitched a ride on a helicopter from ESPN in Bristol, Conn., after being guests on SportsCenter. “Beautiful countryside to fly over,” says Franchitti, a licensed helicopter pilot.
A quick shower and change and it’s off to dinner with GQ execs, actor/producer Mark Wahlberg (some say the Boston native “owns” the city but he hasn’t produced the deed) and local sports celebs. Cam Neely lightly(?) punches my arm as a way to say hello on the elevator. I’m sure some of his checks during his All-Star career with the Bruins were devastating.
The menu is better than your typical prison food (not that I would know).
At Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., the ‘500′ rookie qualifiers load onto the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.’s G4 for the flight back to Indy. They have the Fastest Rookie Luncheon (Mario Romancini) sponsored by the American Dairy Association of Indiana on Tuesday morning.
“I think I’m going to glow tonight,” Dario Franchitti says as the bus pulls up to the farm that grows satellites on the sprawling ESPN campus.
33 drivers and satellites
Are they really for broadcast purposes or to listen for extraterrestrial contact? Fronting the massive structures and an IZOD IndyCar Series backdrop, the 33 starters hang in the mid-afternoon sun for photos and video and to say “hello” to ABC affiliate presidents and general managers gathered in New York for meetings.
For the 46th consecutive year, ABC is broadcasting the Indianapolis 500 (noon ET May 30).
Next up are more interviews (Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Will Power to Studio E for SportsCenter Australia please), and interspersed are autograph sessions for ESPN employees and their families. IndyCar simulators are nearby, which draw a crowd. “Don’t hit the wall E.J. Viso encourages a participant. “I did and it hurts.”
On the short walk to the bus — and brief interlude with Hannah Storm and Linda Cohen — a tape editor thanks the large group for visiting on what otherwise would be a day off. “It’s something we’ll talk about for a long time,” he says.
Soon it’s off to Boston and a GQ dinner hosted by actor/producer Mark Wahlberg with Boston sports celebs past and present (Bobby Orr, Dwight Freeney, etc.). Later there’s a red-carpet event at a downtown nightclub.
Robin Roberts is taping an Indianapolis 500 promo on the ESPN campus. She has a more vested interest than past year; the “Good Morning America” host is the Pace Car driver.
“(Johnny Rutherford) is a great instructor and he really calmed my nerves,” says Roberts, who got behind the wheel of the Chevy Camaro for the first time last month. “Now I’m ready to go. It’s the greatest spectacle in the world and to be a part of it is amazing.
“I’m looking over at Helio (Castroneves) because he reminded me that the first time he won (2001) there was a woman Pace Car driver (Elaine Irwin Mellencamp). He feels I may be good luck to win his fourth. If there is a 34-car field this year, I’ll be in the back.”
Robin and Helio
Alex Tagliani shakes his head when asked about his beloved Montreal Canadiens, who face playoff elimination. “I was talking about it with the boys (at FAZZT Race Team) yesterday about it, and I don’t understand how can they beat Washington and Pittsburgh — two strong teams — and then struggle against Philadelphia,” he says. “Once they beat Pittsburgh, I was dancing because I thought they’d be going to the Stanley Cup finals. It’s frustrating for a fan.”
And we’re back for a lunch break at ESPN headquarters. The field just finished a studio taping for First Take and SportsCenter … they nailed “We are the starting grid for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 and you’re watching SportsCenter” on the third take. The first take was a tad too soft (“What, are we in church?” the director says). The second was OK, but not quite. The third: “Home run!” the director says.
After a brief lunch break is off to the farm where the grow satellites.
Danica Patrick is live on SportsCenter in Studio F.
Mike Golic wants to know if his mug will be added to the Borg-Warner Trophy after claiming victory (with partner Danica Patrick) in a tire change competition at ESPN headquarters. “We won; I should receive the rewards,” the co-host of “Mike & Mike in the Morning” says.
Mike and Mike
“Pit stops are a team effort,” says Patrick, who joined Dan Wheldon and show co-host Mike Greenberg for the segment that closed the weekday show (on radio and ESPN2). “You have to hit your marks, and if they’re one second off you lose about 100 yards.”
Chimes in Greenberg: “Golic couldn’t run the length of a football field in 12 seconds so he’d be left way behind.”
Simultaneously, Graham Rahal, Sarah Fisher and Alex Tagliani are being interviewed for SportsCenter.com; Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti are doing shoots for the ABC broadcast of the Indianapolis 500; Scott Dixon, Darrio Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power are taping a segment for Game Night Radio; and Helio Castroneves is taping a piece for Page 2.
It’s a packed day at the campus.
The field of satellite dishes is a landmark for air travelers, screaming “Welcome to Bristol, Conn., home of ESPN.” It’s on to lane in Hartford, which whispers “Welcome to the home of First and Last Tavern, the Mark Twain home and, well, that’s about it. Have a nice day.”
Graham Rahal occupies his time in the air by sorting images and playing games on his iPad. A half-dozen rows back, Helio Castroneves snaps photos on his phone of unsuspecting (dozing, eating, movie-watching) compatriots that are destined for Twitter.
Rahal and iPad
Handlers go over details of the ESPN itinerary of interviews, tours and employee autograph sessions at the sprawling campus – plus what’s in store for the evening (a dinner hosted by GQ with Boston sports celebs and a party at Rumors). There’s a rumor that some ‘500’ participants will head straight to the bus for the 7:30 a.m. Tuesday departure for NYC. Hey, it is their only free night for a week and all – save for Sebastian Saavedra – are of legal age.
Thirty-three drivers, three cities, 36 hours. This May 24-25 IZOD IndyCar Series whirlwind field trip to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Boston and New York is unprecedented for the starters in the Indianapolis 500, and mixes some fun and business.
“Oh, I always enjoy the trip to New York,” says pole sitter Helio Castroneves, “and now they’ve expanded it so it’s all good.”
All good, and packed with public, media and personal appearances — capped by the second bash in front of Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square in New York (11 a.m. for photos and autographs on Broadway if you’re in the vicinity).
The journey begins
The sun broke the horizon, the fog rolled out and the drivers who will start the Indianapolis 500 rolled in — coffee cups in hand — for the first leg of the journey. Pockets swapped stories of the wild weekend of qualifying and the great crowds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It’s a fun day, just because we are exposed to a lot of media. Even though I’m an old guy (47) and it’s early, I enjoy this,” Davey Hamilton said. “I have to say, this year with IZOD stepping up and taking us to ESPN, the GQ party, New York, I think it’s even better.”
For me, one of the most beautiful cars on the grid is Ryan Hunter Reay’s. The paint scheme is so dynamic. When creating this image I wanted that energy to come through. A simple tilt of the camera seemed to do the trick!