The conversation flowed as freely as the Bloody Marys as late-Sunday morning regulars at the counter of Jerry’s Famous Deli dissected the previous day in South Florida sports and offered their unsolicited advice for the Dolphins’ Monday Night Football match-up with the New England Patriots.
Even the IZOD IndyCar Series race the previous evening was topic du jour as Jerry, the resident bartender/waiter, handed out condolences to Will Power along with the cheese knishes and bagels (cream cheese on the side please). Holding up the sports front page of the Miami Herald, he shook his head and said, “Tough way to lose a championship, but good for Franchitti.”
A few blocks north on Collins Avenue, the staff of the W Hotel was welcoming guests for the Championship Celebration. A cooling breeze 30 yards off South Beach also was welcome as IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers began to congregate poolside mid-afternoon to soak up some sun, relax and chat at length with each other and extended family members and guests.
Soon it will be time to slip into something a bit more fashionable for the informal awards program and party under the stars.
Dario Franchitti also is poolside, but he’s in jeans and working. The now three-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion is answering basically the same questions that have been asked for the past 18 hours on a satellite media tour (SMT).
Nearby, lounging on a rattan recliner with tropical drink in hand is Power and his fiancée, Elizabeth, and Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe and his wife, Nicole. At least for the moment, he’s enjoying his runner-up finish.
During a break in the SMT, I ask Franchitti if during one of the post-race parties (that went on till 4 a.m.) team owner Chip Ganassi wrangled his signature on a cocktail napkin (like what happened in September 2008 to return to the series) for a new contract.
“Winning or losing last night I don’t think changed anything,” he says. “Both of us are keen that we continue and I don’t see it not happening. I want to stay with the team and the team wants me to stay, so it’s just a matter of getting it done.”
It’s the quiet before the party. Poolside at the W is transforming in preparation for tonight’s activities. Check back later as we bring you more updates, more images and new video.
Firestone Indy Lights driver James Hinchcliffe has arrived to interview guests of the Championship Celebration.
8:15 p.m. on…
James Hinchcliffe interviews fellow competitor and friend Stefan Wilson.
Next up, Hinch caught up with Roger Bailey, Executive Director of the Firestone Indy Lights during the party and talks about the 25 years he has spent associated with racing in the US.
We’re on standby for the time being. Waiting on some images to upload and for some more video. To highlight some of the event (you may know this if you’ve been following on Twitter) – it’s been a blast, the weather is great, food delicious, and everyone is in good spirits. Oh, and by the way – Dario got thrown into the pool by Tony Kanaan.
Video time – our gracious host, James Hinchcliffe (not camera shy) grabs a minute with Team Penske’s Will Power, to talk North Carolina, surfing and more.
You can view a bunch of images from tonight on our Flickr account – or you can view them in the slideshow, right below. It’s been a good night so far.
Terry Angstadt – President of the Indy Racing League Commercial Division talks with James Hinchcliffe about the 2010 season, working with IZOD and more.
There’s an after-party at Wall inside the W Hotel, compliments of series sponsor Global Corporate Alliance. This is where we end coverage. In the meantime, enjoy a goodbye from our amazing host Hinchtown.
And – by the way – we will have more videos from tonight, later in the week. Think of it as a treat.