This May was my second with IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am an intern for the media department where we handle Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and blog posts. I spent a lot of the month captioning the many photos that are taken each day. I decided to choose some of my favorites from the month and pay a personal tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500.
The only thing this photo is missing are the dropped jaws, the wide eyes and the shocked gasps coming from the crowd at the end of this year’s Indy 500 when rookie J.R. Hildebrand crashed while leading the final lap. The photo definitely depicts the controversy that came from the ending. The checkered and yellow flag are out as Dan Wheldon crosses the finish line, but Dan played fair and successfully grabbed his second Indy 500 title. Definitely a twist of fate that made for a memorable ending to a historical race.
How could I not choose a picture of Simona de Silvestro? Tough is the only word you can use to describe her. There is no way you could have watched the horrifying wreck she was involved in, watch her successfully qualify, and watch her finish the race and not have the most respect in the world for her. I’m not sure we even heard a complaint come from her lips. Being sure not to let down her fans, she continued to sign autographs throughout the rest of the month. Simona, you’re my girl!
There is no way to look at the picture above and not feel the emotion Sam Schmidt and Alex Tagliani must have experienced in this moment. After Tagliani grabbed the pole, he couldn’t thank Schmidt enough. You have to love and respect Sam Schmidt for all he’s overcome, and congratulate him because this was his first Indy 500 pole. It was great to see their effort and teamwork pay off.
Any picture that includes a member of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske is a great one to me. It’s so easy to create the thought that there is a rivalry there, but this picture goes to show that isn’t quite the case. If you ask me, every IndyCar fan is either a Ganassi fan or a Penske fan. You can’t like both, but you can probably hate both out of jealousy for the numerous success stories both teams have. Dario shaking Roger Penske’s hand in this picture shows the camaraderie that exists between Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske. One of my all time favorites for sure!
I chose this picture and put it last in order for a reason. This year was the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. This picture includes IndyCar legends and embodies the whole history of the race and the series. A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, and Johnny Rutherford – all legends of the Indy 500 and the IndyCar sport. This picture is everything that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wanted to accomplish during the 100th anniversary – a celebration of the history of those who have made the Indy 500 the “greatest spectacle in racing” and kept it there for 100 years and counting.
As members of the media, Brant James and Tony Fabrizio are used to getting interviews from winning race drivers.
On March 8, the reporters were giving interviews after winning the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Media Go-Kart Enduro at Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, Fla.
James, who covers motorsports for SI.com, and Fabrizio, the motorsports reporter for the Tampa Tribune, teamed with Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg VP/GM Tim Ramsberger and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani to win the 50-minute go-kart race.
“I’m not going to say it was fixed, but look at our team,” James joked as he pointed to Ramsberger on the podium following the event.
Hail to the victors.
Media and VIPs were allocated to nine teams of three and joined by professional racing drivers who will compete in the five series that will race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., later this month.
The Mazda Road to Indy was well-represented with Shannon McIntosh, Zach Veach and Spencer Pigot attending for the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda, Nick Andries and Joao Horto representing the Star Mazda Championship and Martin Plowman and Tagliani representing the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Andries, a St. Petersburg-area native who will race on the streets of St. Petersburg for the first time, topped the field to take the fastest lap award.
“I have a little unfair advantage over the others because I’ve been here so many times,” said Andries, who nearly ran down Veach’s Team Rocket kart for second place. “ I think if Veach or Plowman had more time here, they would have been closer.”
The star of the day, though, may have been Veach, who finished second though Tagliani accused of having an unfair advantage because of his small stature.
“I’m glad Zach is here because I’m not the shortest,” said Tagliani, who carried the teenage racer over his shoulder and lifted him over his head. “But how much weight do we get to add to his kart?”
Veach’s weight advantage, though, helped Tagliani in the race as the pair used a stock car-style bump draft to gain on their competitors.
“You saw the Daytona 500,” Tagliani told Veach. “Some people are pushers, and some get pushed. You my friend are definitely a pusher.”
Alex Tagliani was surprised by the number of Canadians who showed up to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning play host to the Washington Capitals in an NHL game March 7.
“There are a lot of people speaking French here,” said Tagliani, who led the crowd at St. Pete Times Forum in yelling “let’s play hockey” just before the puck dropped.
Alex Tagliani meets with a family of fans from his homeland in Quebec.
One such group of French-speaking fans, the La Fortune family, was first in line to meet the Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver. The family was vacationing in Florida from their home in St. Roche de L’Achigan, Quebec, which isn’t far from Tagliani’s home of Lechanaie, Quebec.
“Living five minutes from Alex’s hometown, I know who he is,” said Patrick La Fortune. “It’s very nice to get to meet him and get his autograph.”
Another Tagliani fan, Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Road Show member C.J. Miller, took the opportunity to enlist Tagliani in his planned marriage proposal.
Miller had Tagliani sign a hero card with the message: “Tracy, will you please marry C.J?”
“She told me to come up with an original way to propose,” Miller said. “I thought this was pretty original.”
Ed, Justin and Alex had the opportunity to visit playrooms where the kids were drawing or playing with toys and video games. The drivers enjoyed talking with the children and giving away signed hats, hero cards, IZOD IndyCar Series calendars and Hot Wheels diecast. The children enjoyed the visit as well– greeting the IZOD IndyCar drivers with numerous smiles and autograph requests.
IndyCar Drivers Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter and Justin Wilson spend the day at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In addition to the playroom visits, the IZOD IndyCar drivers also had the opportunity to visit individual rooms of children too ill to visit in common areas. For the patients and families at Riley, this week’s visit brought a momentary break for the challenge of childhood illness. For Ed Carpenter, Justin Wilson, and Alex Tagliani, the visit brought the chance to meet some of their biggest (well okay, littlest) fans.
Justin Wilson signs autographs at Riley Children's Hospital
It’s been four weeks of Flickr related posts and the 2010 IndyCar season – reviewing some of the coolest images, most interesting, viewed, favorited and today, commented. This has been a fun series to write, I hope you’v enjoyed reading and viewing.
What we learned in reviewing Flickr’s methods of measurement is this -
Most Interesting and views was dominated by our fans – images of your 2012 Chassis Designs.
Most favorited, saw the return of photography.
And most comments? Let’s take a look and start traditionally, with the 99th most commented image.
When you win an IZOD IndyCar Series Contest, we dig deeper! Actually, we just request that the recipient take a photo with their new gear and send it to us- Nothing creepy, we just want to make sure our winners are happy. We also want to feature them on our website and Flickr account, because let’s face it- race fans are passionate people and we like to give appreciation when appreciation is due! Today we are featuring two of our contest winners, Courtney Braden and Rudi Womack:
Courtney Braden may not know this, but she was the first contest winner since we began “Contest Wednesdays” back in June. She won a RT contest on Twitter (@IndyCarNation) by being the 50th person to retweet our message- pretty cool, so a big thanks to Courtney for being our guinea pig!
Sunday 4:48 p.m.- Thanks for keeping up with the live blog this weekend. Can’t wait for Edmonton! Here are some victory lane photos for you, see the rest here.
Will Power #1 at Hondy Indy Toronto
Top 3 with lots of confetti!
Sunday 3:25 p.m.- After going through the predictions on both Facebook and Twitter we have two winners from the “Pick the Top Three Trifecta Contest.” Congratulations to both Michael Hannowsky and @ACDonahue for guessing the top three drivers in the right order: Will Power, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Sunday 2:47p.m.- WE HAVE A WINNER- Will Power to Victory Lane! Highlight video and tons of pictures from throughout the race to come!
Will Power wins at Honda Indy Toronto
Sunday 2:34 p.m.- Sixth full course yellow of the race- Last year there were only 5! Alex Tagliani and Tomas Scheckter connect in the corner. Justin Wilson spins out and Scott Dixon loses his front suspension. All in one lap!
I know we’re in the midst of a pretty exciting IndyCar season, but I wanted to take the opportunity to mention something else occurring this summer – the World Cup. I’m a huge soccer fan and will be glued to the TV June 11 – July 11, rooting for England (hey, I was born there) and hoping for some magical goal, incredible matches and a thrilling cup final. Player of the tournament? My pick is Wayne Rooney. Disagree?
I know soccer isn’t very popular in the US, but it’s huge a sport and there are many similarities to IndyCar – the global appeal, Brazilians seem to always do well, cool fans, great athleticism, etc.
There are 32 teams at the World Cup. There are 26 drivers in tonight’s Firestone 500k race at Texas Motor Speedway. So what’s the Nation/Driver breakdown? Before I get into that, check out Rafa Matos visiting the Kansas City Wizards of MLS.
“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.”
Watch the latest blindfolded challenge with Tags as he traces the Long Beach Circuit.
Last weekend Simona’s Barber tracing got a lot of attention. Look for more clips through the season. Let’s hear some chatter about these two clips…Comment Below and vote for who you think did a better job.