The title of this post was going to be "Carb Day Highlights", until I realized that some of the things that I saw were not highlights at all, but were instead either lowlights or just...lights. Something in the middle. With that, and with the thought in mind that I need to wake up in a little under 7 hours if I'm going to make tomorrow's (what? After midnight? Damn. Then it's today's) Planet-IRL.com First Annual Blogger Summit.
- The day started off on an up note for me when I, running late because I failed to realize that the North 40 Lot would be a vortex of parking insanity on Carb Day, ran into a buddy of mine on staff after I'd only gotten about 200 yards inside the north end of the track. He charitably let me catch a ride on his golf cart over to Pagoda Plaza, where I just made it in time for the daily 15 minute live version of the "Cavin and Kevin Show". Nice. Very nice.
- I spent about four minutes gawking at the Delta Wing prototype. I firmly believe that the car should be shown in pictures with a banner hanging behind it that says "Delta Wing: Better In Person".
- Then, it was cars on the track. Actual IndyCars on the actual Indianapolis Motor Speedway track. I think I spent the hour of practice switching between Tweeting strings of unrelated consonants and blacking out. I can't really remember what happened here.
- The Lights race. Too bad for Pippa. Too good by Wade Cunningham (again, yawn). Too weird by JKVernay, who ground to a halt right in front of me in the pits with an apparent locked rear end after one lap, then whose crew got him going again after six laps (aided by Pippa's and Jeff Simmons' second lap crash and caution), and who then spent the race carving up through the field until he threatened (repeatedly and forcefully) to reclaim one of those six laps from the leaders.
- Spent some nice time meeting and catching up with Allen Wedge from Furious Wedge and his wife Kelly (who my wife would say spells her name wrong). Actually, this time alternated between "nice" and "infuriating", as Allen appears to have far better formed opinions about most things IndyCar than I do. Me? I just like watching cars going fast, I guess. Anyway, it's never exactly fun when you figure out you're not only not the smartest person in the room, but you're also not the second smartest. In a room containing three people.
- I had the brief chance to meet face-to-face with the Incorrigible Roy Hobbson from The Silent Pagoda during the ZZ Top concert. Actually, it wasn't a "meeting" so much as just a "receiving a high five from somebody running past me who is wearing one of those 'beer can helmets' that's been modified to carry two pony kegs of Hamm's". Anyway, I'm certain that was Hobbson, and I'm certain that right now he's either half-buried in one of the infield's sand traps or all-incarcerated in the infield pokey.
- I did actually see a couple of guys on Hulman Blvd. who were being shaken down by the infield cops. It took everything I had not to go over and recite entire sections of the famous Bob and Tom bit, "Sid Gurney: Infield Security", just to rub it in.
- Oh, back to the fifth circle of hell, aka, the North 40 Lot. 800 feet in 40 minutes, you say? While 75% of the day's total crowd is still shotgunning Miller Lite inside Turn 3? Sure. That sounds reasonable.
- From the ridiculous to the sublime: The Carb Night Burger Bash! OK, to be serious for one second, I look forward to the Burger Bash as much or more as any other event that happens during my calendar year that doesn't have the words "Race" and "Day" attached to it. This year did not disappoint. I met up with fully 4/11ths of the rest of my intrepid All Racing Fantasy League team owners (Craig, the aforementioned Allen Wedge, and the brother assassins, Jesse and Ryan; good fellas, all), hammered down a burger, a bushel or so of fries and roughly a gallon of vanilla milkshake (I'm bringing plenty of souvenir cups home, honey!), threw empathetic vibes toward a clearly downcast Pippa Mann, who stopped by to chat with Curt, Kevin and the crowd for a few minutes, basked in the aura of one Tony Kanaan for about a half an hour, spent a good 20 minutes holding my hands to the sky during Randy Bernard's brief Q&A session like those snake-handling churchy people you see in certain movies, and was, of course, thoroughly entertained by Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. The bar has been raised yet again by those guys. If you did not make it this year, you made a grave mistake. Rectify that next year, for your own sake.
- A lowlight: many, many bloggers and Twitterers in attendance at the Burger Bash. Alas, I and my ARFL chums spent so much time busting on each others' teams and generally busting on whatever happened through our stream of consciousness that I didn't get a chance to make a full set of rounds. That's a bad job by me. So, my work is cut out for me at the Bloginator Conference tomorrow (dang! Today!).
OK, you'll all have to excuse me for no pictures for now, as A) it's nearly 1:00 AM now, and B) I'm dumb, and forgot my download cable in Nebraska. There is more, more, more to come from Indy! We're just getting started!
Some quick thoughts in advance of this year’s Indy 500, scribbled down while shanghai’ed (briefly, and only because President Obama was allegedly flying through at the time, but still) at Chicago Midway International Airport, on my way to Indy for the weekend:
- “Red” cars almost locked out the first two rows in qualifying. However, other than Helio’s pole speed, the entire bulk of the field is covered by less than 4 MPH. With the draft supposedly making more of a difference in traffic this year, and the addition of the “push to pass” button, we might be in for a decent race on Sunday. Well, at least among the “red” cars at the front, and then another decent race for 6th through 10th for the entire rest of the field.
- Bruno Junquiera ran the seventh-best speed of the entire field, in worse conditions than the Pole Day qualifiers ran in, and after only seven laps of getting up to speed. Um, I think he’s going to be fast on Race Day.
- Andretti Autosport was out to lunch on qualifying weekend. I don’t think that will hold come race day. TK will be doing a patented Derek Daly “burn from the stern” (that’s the phrase patented by Derek, not the actual act) from his 33rd starting spot, Marco and Danica will be able to hang in there in the mid-pack, and move up with other peoples’ mistakes, John Andretti will be doing his thing of being completely invisible until you read the race rundown in the paper in the next day and you find out that he finished 12th, and RHR will be doing RHR things all day (that’s “passing people” and “being a general nuisance to people in theoretically superior equipment” to the uninitiated out there).
- The KVRT drivers will probably continue to damage equipment, both theirs and others’. Sorry, Jimmy. I love ya, but you’ve got a team full of crashers there.
- Alex Tagliani will hang with the lead pack until the first round of stops, have a slightly slow pit stop that puts him between the leaders and the midfield, and will drive around by himself until he falls afoul of some nonsense. Sorry, Alex, but the fairytale is going to end around lap 80, and probably at the hands of one of the aforementioned KV guys.
- First out? Sebastian Saavedra. Sorry, kid. Your gearbox is gonna give up on lap 14.
- Speaking of 14…Vitor…get comfy in the 10th through 15th range, and then be ready to move up late in the day. I’ve got you pegged for a semi-out-of-nowhere 9th place this year.
- The “New” Snake Pit will be derided by the oldtimers as too tame and by the family crowd (which, who am I kidding? I’m probably a member of now) for being inappropriate for any year post-1983. My opinion? If you have to start a Twitter campaign to publicize your “drunken outsider festival of alcohol-laced debauchery with extra booze on top”, that's not a good sign. Um, you know who else uses Twitter to disseminate PR material? Scott Dixon. You know who else? CNN News. You want to be associated with the wild and crazy likes of those folks, “New” Snake Pit? Didn’t think so.
- I will quadruple my all time record for money spent on merchandise in one weekend, between the new Izod throwback t-shirts, some great looking new team and driver hats, and my sudden compulsion to buy a diecast to put in amongst all the butterflies that adorn my daughter’s room.
- Between Izod’s publicity campaign (including getting Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson to be front and center on Sunday), some great potential stories on Race Day, and some potential history in the making (Helio matching Mears, Foyt and Unser), the 500 will be in the top-3 stories on Sportscenter on Sunday night. And we were all here for the comeback. Bask in that.