LIVE BLOG: Grand Prix of Indianapolis

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on May 9, 2014 10:45 pm
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Welcome to More Front Wing’s live blog from the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis! MFW Co-editor Steph Wallcraft is at the track tapping out updates all weekend long. Updates are posted with the most recent at the top, so if this is your first visit to the live blog please go to the last page and work your way forward. For Verizon IndyCar Series time sheets and race info, visit the Grand Prix of Indianapolis Event Summary.

SATURDAY

12:57 AM Sunday ET – Just a very quick wrap-up to call it a day. Deepest apologies for the lack of updates here today, but I was pulled in too many directions.

We’ve got our Event Summary just about complete and race reports posted for all four series that raced at IMS today, so please go to the home page and check those out.

I also need to mention that I greatly appreciated being able to attend the tweet-up this morning. Many thanks to Pippa Mann and Amy of Open Wheel Mom for their work in putting that together. I wish I could name every single person I saw there, but there were just too many and I’d hate to miss someone. I appreciated getting to visit with you all!

We’ll be full tilt as Month of May coverage continues here at MoreFrontWing.com. Thanks so much for following along.

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10:10 AM ET – Good morning from race day at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis! I arrived at the track at about 7:30 this morning (to people already tailgating in Lot 2, for the record) and have been running around ever since. It’s going to be a busy day here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway! It’s also going to be beautiful. The sun is shining, the humidity is gone, and there are none of those nasty-looking clouds on the horizon.

When I first walked through the gate, I was genuinely surprised by the number of people already on the grounds. The gates opened at 7:00, and it seems that quite a few serious race fans heeded our warnings and got here early to stake out their spots of choice on the general admission viewing mounds. I’m not calling attendance a raging success yet, but early signs are promising.

I dropped my things in the media center and made a beeline to the sign-in area for Camaro pace car rides, which I received courtesy of Chevrolet. Fair warning: it is not possible to get through the Pagoda Plaza quickly today! The Celebration of Automobiles is set up out there, and there are rows upon rows of gleaming classic cars to feast your eyes upon. I slowed down to admire so much that I was nearly late for my pace car time slot!

When I arrived, I learned that I would be joined in the car by Tony DiZinno of NBC Sports Motorsports Talk and that we would be driven around the track by Anders Krohn. That was easily the most entertaining pace car ride I’ve ever been on. We were the first up for the day, and Anders greeted us by letting us know we would be joining him for his first-ever lap around the IMS road course (very confidence-inspiring!). With DJ Hardwell pumping loudly in the background (who, as TDZ pointed out, will be performing in the Snake Pit on Indy 500 race day), we took off down pit lane.

This track is smooth as glass and crazy grippy. As you’ve heard the racers say, turns 1 and 7 are heavy braking zones and are where you’ll see most of the passing take place, and it felt as though you could see some passes in turn 12 as well if opportunities arise up there to capitalize on mistakes. Another thing I noticed: the curbs are a lie, mostly. The grass on the insides of them is already heavily torn up, so they don’t really seem to be much of a deterrent.

But perhaps the best testament to the improvements is Anders’s reaction. As he completed his first-ever lap and brought the Camaro to a halt, he exclaimed, “This track is fricking awesome.” So, there you go — straight from the racer’s mouth. The IMS road course is a good time.

When I finished up there, I headed clear across the infield to visit with Chaplain David Storvick of the IndyCar Ministry for a piece I’m putting together on the amazing work they do for the IndyCar and Road to Indy communities. We had a wonderful chat about the extremely varied services the Ministry provides. I’m looking forward to doing some more work on that and telling you more about it in the coming weeks.

Back in the media center, as I started putting this post together I noticed the TVs showing the Gordon Pipers out in Gasoline Alley, a very familiar IMS tradition — but not typically this early in the month. I leaned over to my friend George Phillips of OilPressure.com, who as we all know is highly resistant to change (that’s an understatement), and asked him what he thought of it. “I like it,” he said. “If I’m here, I want to hear them.” As far as I’m concerned, if George says a change in tradition at IMS is okay then it is. (Reportedly, though, he’s very upset about the new tenderloins. He’s bashing away at his keyboard as I type this. Keep an eye out for his diatribe, which should be posted shortly.)

Next up, I’m preparing to hit the Pagoda Plaza for the tweet-up at 10:20. From there, I’ll probably go straight to the grid for USF2000′s second race of the weekend, and then we just race our way up the ladder from there for the rest of the day. For the full schedule of events, check out our Grand Prix of Indianapolis Event Summary. And away we go!

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NEXT PAGE: Earlier updates from the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis

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