Indy 99: All Eyes Open for Airborne Cars

Being a Hoosier, born and bred, and having worked in the press box overlooking the finish line at the Indy Speedway, it goes without saying that I’ll be watching the 99th running of the race today. If you are so inclined also, here is a handy rundown from about the things unique to this racing season. Tops in everyone’s mind this year is probably the incidence of accidents due to problems with car body aerodynamics. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The No. 1 starting position has been good to pole-sitter Scott Dixon, whose only Indianapolis 500 victory came from this spot in 2008.

2. Simona de Silvestro and Pippa Mann are the only two women drivers in Sunday’s race. They will be looking to eclipse Danica Patrick’s record third-place finish by a female set in 2009.

3. The No. 3 is the most successful car numeral in Indianapolis history with 11 victories overall. That total includes two by Helio Castroneves, who again will have the number on his Chevrolet Sunday.

4. Speaking of Castroneves, another Indianapolis victory would be his fourth and move him into rarified company. He would join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners. No other active driver even has two wins.

5. Five former winners qualified for Sunday’s race — Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Castroneves (2001, ’02, ’09), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014).

6. The introduction of new aerodynamic body panels this year has produced mixed results thus far. In the season-opener on the street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., a piece of debris flew into the stands and fractured a woman’s skull. And things haven’t improved since the kits were used on the Indianapolis oval for the first time. Leading to …

7. After accidents that saw three drivers get airborne and a fourth wreck that seriously injured James Hinchcliffe, a feeling of apprehension hangs over the garage. IndyCar decreased boost and made the cars easier to handle, but there’s been minimal track time to see if those changes will make Sunday’s race any safer.

8. A Graham Rahal win would make him and father Bobby just the second father-son to achieve victory at Indianapolis. Al Unser Sr. won four times, while son Al Jr. won twice.

9. When it comes to Indianapolis car owners, Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi are unquestionably the measuring sticks. The two IndyCar titans have fielded cars that have combined to win nine of the past 15 races.

Read all of Jordan Bianchi’s Indy news items here.


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3 responses to “Indy 99: All Eyes Open for Airborne Cars

  1. Yo fellow Hoosier! Born in Bloomington, graduated IU, moved to downtown Indy for four years then eastside Indy for four more before migrating westward to LA in ’83 (where the race isn’t blacked out).

    I attended some practice sessions at the track — my uncle worked in marketing for WTTV so their RV onsite was pretty sweet! — but darn it, never saw the race. It just seemed like too much hassle, I guess.

    I remember listening to it on the radio, though, one summer in particular when my dad was mowing our lawn and mom had sliced up some watermelon. I have such a clear mental image, from back in the day when Andretti was still Marco and Unser was still Bobby and A.J. was still a hot-headed driver.

    One of my last years in Indy, my band played a well-known club in Speedway the night before the race, and the electricity in the air as I was driving around at 2 am after the gig was palpable. The thing I most remember about driving by the track the night before the race is, IT’S JUST SO MASSIVE!!! All girders and rivets and monolithic.


    • You bring back some real memories, Kelli! Sorry to not respond until now. I was out building a fence gate with the boys, listening to race news on the radio, trying to relive some of those memories you’re talking about! And then, being an old man, I was too tired to do anything but get some buffalo at Ted’s with the family, watch some tube and pass out. You’re right about how massive the Speedway looks when you’re driving by on Georgetown Rd or 16th. And the excitement level is amazing during the race. But the off-season is fun, too. I remember many a car show in the in-field with my old man. We restored classic roadsters, and during the shows, he’d get to drive laps in his MGA or MGTF. He loved that stuff. But I’m really jealous of your time in the WTTV trailer at the race! That must have been a blast!


    • And it’s not May without some Bob & Tom Indy 500 parodies from Q95.
      Just a Mario:

      Two Tickets, Maybe Three: