Posts Tagged ‘ Indy 500 ’

Tomas Scheckter Uncensored

Posted on: December 15, 2010 | Comments(34) | Drivers | By: Tomas Scheckter

Editors Note: Over the course of the off-season Tomas Scheckter will be writing from time to time updating us on his current racing pursuits, telling us his most memorable moments, and providing the fans with insight from inside the cockpit.  Tomas is one of the most exciting drivers to watch in the IZOD IndyCar Series and as you’ll soon realize he’s got a lot to say.  He’s not afraid to express his opinions so keep that in mind… these blog posts are HIS opinions.

First things first, I have to admit I have never written a blog before and, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever read one before.  A friend approached me and asked me to write up something after some heated exchanges between myself and Paul Tracy on Trackforum.com (more on that later).

The same friend who got me to write this blog recently brought by a recording of a TV show that aired in England not long ago and it really inspired me.  The title of the show was “When Playboys Ruled The World.” It’s a documentary that covers the lives of Barry Sheene and James Hunt.  It was during the year 1976 in which Barry Sheene won his 500cc Championship (which later became MotoGP) and James Hunt won the Formula One World Championship.  These two were no ordinary champions. They lived life to the max and on the ragged edge.  James had even been known for punching track marshals for restraining him after an accident.  James and Barry were no strangers to the party scene either, even to the point that James sported a badge on his race suit that said “Sex Breakfast of Champions.”

James Hunt and Tomas’ Father, Jody Scheckter, are interviewed after the 1976 British GP

The side of these two that most didn’t see, and the documentary brought to light, was the tangible danger they faced weekly.  They speak during the documentary how each of them lost upwards of 25 friends to the sports they loved.  I like to think of myself as quite fearless and there is really only one moment in my career where I remember feeling fear.  It was the morning Paul Dana passed away at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  I’d seen Paul that morning as he parked his rental car right next to my bus and I remember greeting him.  During the morning warm-up a yellow came out to clean up an incident and after about 15 minutes they cancelled the session, which they NEVER do.  I knew my teammate Ed Carpenter had been involved but I didn’t know how bad it was.  I went back to my motorhome after the session had been ended early to take a quick nap before the race got going.  I was sitting on my bed as it came across ESPN that Paul had passed.  I was in complete disbelief, my stomach turned, and my girlfriend at the time did her best to console me but I was feeling completely disconnected.  About 3 minutes later my team manager called and said “Tomas, the race is back on, driver intros in 30 minutes.”  I hadn’t felt confident in the setup of my car during warm-up and this tragic incident didn’t boost my confidence any.  I have no idea where I finished in that race but I knew it was the best finish Vision Racing had at that point.  After I got out of the car there were some people trying to come speak to me.  I was in no mood to speak to anyone, pit lane lost a great individual that day and my great friend and teammate was in the hospital.

The feeling of fear is what sometimes drives us to the limit.  It’s not the speed that’s exhilarating; we’re all used to the speed. It’s knowing that there’s a chance you might not come out the other side of the corner.  It gives you that feeling in the pit of your stomach, as much as you hate it, it becomes addictive and that’s why it’s so hard to walk away from this sport.

There’s no track in the world that gives that feeling more than Indianapolis and that’s exactly why I think we need to be going 230 – 240 mph.  Great ad campaigns like IZOD’s and leadership are of the upmost importance to any sport, but racing is sexy, dangerous, loud, scary, and on the edge.  It’s all about speed, going for it, and breaking records.  220 is a thing of the past, if we’re approaching 240 we’ll be on the front page of every major newspaper in the country.  Racing needs to get back to being on the edge, being on the edge is what Indy is all about.  It’s the bravest drivers at the fastest track taking it to the absolute limit.  We’re not playing ping-pong, darts, or bowling.  We’re driving IndyCars at the greatest racetrack in the world and that’s a privilege.  If you want that privilege, you have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to take that risk?”  If the answer is no then it’s time to hang it up.  There’s no greater feeling in the world than being able to say you were lucky enough to be one of the 33 drivers at Indianapolis.

Tomas putting on his helmet

Tomas Scheckter

My dad will probably hate me for saying this as he was the head of the Drivers Association when he was in Formula One.  They focused a lot on safety but back in his days they lost 2-3 drivers a year.  It’s a whole different world today.  I’m not trying to say I want to see people get hurt or anything but I do think it’s important that we get the fans respect back.  There are things we can do better to increase the safety, but still allow for higher speeds.  Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti have started having some meetings with drivers to get everyone’s point of view on safety, etc.  It’s my opinion we can absolutely go 230-240 mph safely.

During this same documentary, they spoke about James’ and Barry’s exploits as “ladies men” and how open they were about it.  Gerhard Berger made one comment that regardless of their extra-curricular activities they were still able to get the job done.  Being great drivers made these guys famous, but their personalities and emotions made them legends.  We need more of that.  A good example was last year. I  was sitting in my car after the Edmonton race, completely exhausted, seeing Helio Castroneves running around shouting and grabbing people (who easily could have tossed his butt all the way back to Brazil.)  I loved that.  It showed true emotion and it showed just how much emotion we all have invested in this.  My other thought was, the WWE needs to get Helio in the ring, he’s a great performer.
I fully understand that racing is expensive and sponsors want a certain image but I think for the overall popularity of the sport everyone needs to loosen up.  I would love to go back to the ‘70s or ‘80s and drive past the Snake Pit after a long day at the track.  I would love to not be afraid to tell someone to stop “crying like a baby,” even though I’ve done that anyway.  I read Graham Rahal’s tweets. He is a great kid and super talented but he is about as exciting as British politics.  He is in his 20s, he drives the fastest cars in the world and he’s speaking about holding hands and getting double frappaccino with whipped cream.  I’m not saying rob a liquor store or anything crazy like that but let loose, live a little.

I think anyone who steps into a race car has to be mentally and physically prepared.  I spend a ton of time in the gym and I sleep in an altitude tent in preparation for race weekends.  I weigh myself every single day.  It’s important to have respect in combination with fun.  As much as we all enjoy chasing girls we still control some very powerful machinery and take our own lives as well as the lives of the spectators into our hands every time we go on track.  With that type of responsibility if you don’t have respect for it you shouldn’t be involved.

I hope I didn’t make too many people angry over the course of this.  I can honestly say I love each and every single one of you fans and the amount of support you’ve shown me over the years has been incredible.  I hope to be writing more often here.  And hopefully, if everything comes together, I’ll see you all at the greatest place on earth, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Our last Flickr post of 2010

Posted on: December 12, 2010 | Comments (0) | Flickr | By: Daniel

Last Sunday, I wrote a post asking you to vote on some our best images from 2010. I picked only 5 out of 3,000+. It wasn’t easy and I tried to pick them based on what you and Flickr were telling me – most viewed, commented, favorited, and so on. There were some really good shots covering the season.

You voted and overwhelmingly chose the picture from the 33 Winning Indy 500 car shoot (it got 47% of the votes). If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a picture of 33 winning Indy 500 cars going to say? There are a lot of stories in this image.

It also serves as a reminder that the 2011 Indianapolis 500 will be here before you know it.  I’m sure you know it’s the 100th anniversary. I know I’m excited. So thank you for voting, and here’s your pic/pick.

The line up

The winner is...

Flickr was a new online tool for us in 2010 and we talked a lot about it. As of today, we’ve uploaded 3,190 images. And you’ve given us 1,289,024 views. That’s pretty amazing.

We plan on using it even more in 2011, bringing you closer to pit lane throughout the season and revealing more behind-the-scenes action from all of our events.

As we solidify our 2011 plans, what are some things you would like to see on Flickr?

Where would you like to see more coverage?

What types of photos do you want to see?

We’re listening, after all, you’re viewing.

Choosing our best 2010 image

Posted on: December 5, 2010 | Comments(5) | Flickr | By: Daniel

I actually thought the Flickr posts for 2010 had to come to a close. Then I read on Flickr’s site something about a group and submitting your best shot for 2010. That got me thinking, why shouldn’t IndyCar submit their best shot to this group? And why shouldn’t you be involved?

I picked (5) of our most discussed, viewed, favorited, and interesting of our images from 2010 for you to vote on. I’ll check the results next Sunday and submit the winner. I know we have more than 5 really cool shots, but I had to start somewhere.

So take a look at the following five and make your selection. And if you’re interested the official Flickr 2010 group, you can check it out HERE: Your Best Shot 2010.

The line up

The 33 Winning Indy 500 Cars

Spinning Tony

Tony Kanaan spinning during May

Photo of the day (Simona De Silvestro)

2010 rookie Simona de Silvestro

Off target

Target up the hill, at Barber

Pace Car

Pace Car Droplets

Enjoy the poll below. If you’re having any difficulties registering a pick, please leave your choice as a comment on this post – it will be factored in.

Check back next week!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Flickr and most favorited

Posted on: October 31, 2010 | Comments(4) | Drivers, Flickr | By: Daniel

In continuing the IndyCar Flickr Series, we’re looking at the images most “favorited” by you over this year. Flickr offers the option of “favoriting” an image – this will simply place the image into a permanent gallery. You can access it anytime. Kind of cool. You favorite our images a lot. Thank you for that.

In continuing the IndyCar Flickr Series, we’re looking at the images most “favorited” by YOU this year. Unlike the previous two measurements – Interestingness and Views – this category places the emphasis back on photography and the people behind the lens (sorry helmet and 2012 chassis designers).

And continuing this blog series tradition – what’s our 99th most favorited image?

Power Leads

Turn one at St. Pete - 2 favorites

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Flickr and most views

Posted on: October 24, 2010 | Comments(4) | 2012 Chassis Designs, Flickr | By: Daniel

The Flickr blog series continues again this week, this time revealing our most viewed images from 2010. Unlike last week where I wrote about Interestingness, the ‘most viewed’ statistic is easy to understand, simple to measure. It’s what our online community looked at the most.

So let’s start randomly – our 99th most viewed image so far this year?

2012 Fan Design by Phil Frank - overhead view

A Phil Frank Design #99

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Flickr and Interestingness

Posted on: October 17, 2010 | Comments(6) | Flickr | By: Daniel

Last week I wrote about Flickr in 2010 and mentioned that Flickr measures the popularity of images in a number of ways. One of these is called ‘Interesting’ and it’s a tough one to figure out because it’s not defined – it’s kind of a secret. When it comes down to it, it ranks our images based on how interesting they are – which is confusingly fascinating.  This blog post kind of helped explain it. Kind of. Here’s what we have for you.

Exhale

Our 99th most interesting image on Flickr

Regardless of the confusion here, I’m sharing some of our most ‘Interesting’ images with you.

What is number 1?

[More]

Sarah Fisher: Risk Taker

Posted on: October 15, 2010 | Comments(10) | Drivers | By: Admin

Last night, Sarah Fisher, driver for the IZOD IndyCar Series and owner of the Sarah Fisher Racing Team received the “Risk Taker” leading light award from Women and Hi Tech in Indianapolis. The Leading Light Award ceremony honored women from Indiana with achievements in science, education, and technology.

Fisher at the Podium

Sarah Fisher at the Podium

Fisher was very deserving of the “Risk Taker” award; she took a large leap for women in the field of auto sports when she began her own team- Sarah Fisher Racing in 2008. This season shows her team has done very well. They secured a sponsor, Dollar General, placed 26 out of 41 in the IZOD IndyCar Series and has an incredible fan following! Just check out her Twitter: @SarahFisher67

Fisher appreciated her fans’ support all season- at the Indy 500 her IndyCar had a logo that said “This One is for the Fans.” She also had her fans design her helmet for the title race in Miami-Homestead to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Fisher even camped out in the “Fan Lot” at the Mid-Ohio Race!

Sarah Fisher receives "Risk Taker Award"

Women and Hi Tech- Leading Lights Award Ceremony

Fisher was extremely grateful for receiving the Risk Taker award and praised the other nominees for their contributions to women and technology. Fisher said, “Without all of you I couldn’t go 220mph!”

What do you think of Sarah Fisher’s achievements? Learn more about Women and Hi Tech by visiting: womenandhitech.org.

Photo Shoot: 33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

Posted on: October 12, 2010 | Comments(38) | Indy 500 | By: Arni

Ellen Bireley had no choice but to make Oct. 12 a free admission day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. That’s because 27 of the Indianapolis 500-winning cars usually found in the museum were being used for a unique photo opportunity on IMS’ front straightaway.

Sitting front and center

Dario Franchitti's #10 Front and Center

“It’s probably been our biggest undertaking,” said Bireley, who has served as the Hall of Fame Museum’s director since 1996. “We’ve never emptied out the museum to my knowledge.”

The photo, which commemorates next May’s 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, featured 33 winning cars of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” (OK, there were 32 winning cars, because Mario Andretti’s 1969 winner is in the Smithsonian Institution, but the replica was the next best thing).

Set up in the morning...

Setting up the grid at IMS

“It’s pretty amazing to have this many iconic cars here,” said track historian Donald Davidson. “We have 33 cars here and every one of them has won the race at least once. I think it represents 37 victories because there have been four cars to win the 500 in consecutive years and they are all here today.  I could probably do 30 minutes on just one car here and we have 33 of them.”
Davidson and Bireley helped select the field of cars used and helped bring in the six cars from private collections. From there, they invited 16 qualified people, ranging from Hall of Fame Museum staff to veteran Indy Car mechanics, to move the cars from the museum to the track side garages used by Firestone Indy Lights and MotoGP teams during race weekend.

Then, in the early morning hours, the group pushed the cars into the traditional 11 rows of three.
The front row consisted of the 1911-winning Marmon Wasp, Dario Franchitti’s 2010-winning Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara and A.J. Foyt’s 1961-winning Bowes Seal Fast roadster, but iconic cars from the race’s first 99 years were spread throughout.

Early morning shot of the "front row"

Front Row: Ray Harroun, Dario Franchitti, A.J. Foyt

Cars driven by iconic names of the’ 500’ such as Unser (Al, Bobby and Al Jr.), Andretti, Mears, Meyer, Shaw, Rutherford and Jones were all included.
“They had to convince me (to do this),” Bireley said. “When they first said they wanted to do this product, I said no, but this was a really neat idea and after multiple conversations, we decided to do it and it was worth it.”

The line up

33 Indy 500 Winning Cars

“To see the cars in natural light, the colors really pop. When the cars are inside in the museum, the indoor lighting just doesn’t do them justice. They look spectacular out here.”

Fans get closer at ‘500′

Posted on: September 22, 2010 | Comments (0) | Drivers | By: Dave

Not feeling the effects of jetlag from Tokyo to Indianapolis, reigning Indianapolis 500 and IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti on Sept. 21 had the opportunity to drive two special cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He presented the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car replica to a sweepstakes winner – giving Bruce Barhydt of North Carolina and his wife a high-speed ride around the track – and got behind the wheel of the Lotus that his racing hero, fellow Scotsman Jim Clark, drive to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500. The car was restored last year in Indianapolis.

The Barhydts & Dario Franchitti

Franchitti with the Sweepstakes Winners

“I never thought I get to drive that car,” he said.Formula One, Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS, Indianapolis 500,  “I got to stand next to it one day and that was pretty intense. “It was a lifetime dream to drive that car, and to drive it here at the Speedway was incredible.”

Earlier this month, Franchitti attended the Formula One race weekend at Monza, Italy, and compared the electricity to the Indy 500.

“As a kid I went to Monza when I was about 6 years old,” he said. “My dad was doing some practice in a Formula 3 car. It’s kind of like going to the Speedway when it’s quiet. It’s kind of like being in an empty church.

“Then you go there for the Grand Prix and it’s like going to Indy for the 500. The place was mad and obviously the Ferrari fans were going nuts with (Fernando) Alonso winning. It’s a different atmosphere than IndyCar because the fans don’t get near the paddock. You have this madness and go through these barriers and then it’s quiet all of a sudden. That was quite interesting.”

Perfect weather here in Edmonton today for a race of any kind, especially an IndyCar race. The weather is perfect for race fans as well. Mentioning the fans, Edmonton has some enthusiastic and supportive ones. They have shown up everyday ready for some IndyCar action and sporting their favorite driver’s colors. Being a newbie here at City Centre Raceway I decided to get some insight from the fans. I wanted to know the best places to be, the favored drivers in Edmonton, and how the fans spend their City Centre race day.

Woo hoo, Qualifications!

Fans in Edmonton!

When I asked the fans the way they spent their time at the track most responded with the Paddock. In the Paddock area fans can be up close and personal with the teams, the cars, and even the drivers. It’s a great place to get pictures of your favorite drivers and racing legends like A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears. What fan wouldn’t want to spend time in the Paddock area?

The best place to be at the Edmonton race track? The answer was unanimous, Turn 1 of course. However, this year the stands in Turn 1 have been removed. Most of the fans said Turn 1 holds some of their favorite racing memories and they are sad to see the stands go.

I then put the fans on the spot by asking them if they could have a ride with one driver who would it be and why? The answers varied. Will Power was one answer, simply because he is fast was the reasoning for one fan. Dario Franchitti was another answer, who wouldn’t want to ride with an Indy 500 champion? The answer for most was Danica Patrick. Answering Danica came as no surprise, especially if you were to walk around the City Centre track today. Danica Patrick shirts are every where you turn!

Then a special pair of people caught my eye. The two were sitting in the stands watching the Firestone Indy Lights warm up and looked as if they were great fans. Father and daughter Ben and Kristina were shaded from the sun in their IZOD IndyCar hats that had been autographed by their favorite drivers. I decided to ask their opinion on Edmonton.

3DRG1196

Father and Daughter Enjoy Race Day

Favorite part of the Edmonton experience?

The race, of course. Ben and Kristina are big fans of the Indy Lights series too. Turn 1 was always a favorite aspect for the two, and they too were sad to see the stands go.

What driver would you like to see win?

For the Indy Lights Edmonton 100 Kristina and Ben would like to see Dan Clarke take the victory. As for IndyCar, Justin Wilson is who they would like to see in the winner’s circle.

If you could ride with one driver who would it be? Why?

Ben’s answer was Paul Tracy. “Tracy is an aggressive driver,” said Ben. For Kristina it would be Graham Rahal. She has always enjoyed watching him.

The fans were great in Edmonton and they all seemed to be dedicated fans. Every one of them had a reason for coming to Edmonton and returning year after year. My first time in Edmonton was made that much better by the willingness of the fans and I’ll be sure to check out Turn 1.  Edmonton is a great stop on the IndyCar schedule, eh?