LIVE BLOG: Grand Prix of Indianapolis

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on May 9, 2014 10:45 pm

12:25 PM ET — Spent the morning walking around getting photos of the different vantage points around the track to compile into a fan viewing guide later this weekend. If you’re coming tomorrow and are in a hurry to buy tickets, my favorite spot so far is H or J stand, as close to the south end of H and as high up as you can get. There’s some serious value up there: you get most of the front straight, pit out, and turns 1 through 6, all clear as day. I’m heading out to take a look at the south end of the track this afternoon.

The big Penske announcement just took place in the Pagoda Plaza, and it was a good one: Helio Castroneves is running a throwback Pennzoil livery this year that matches Lone Star JR’s Yellow Submarine and the car Rick Mears drove to victory in 1988. I’ve posted a couple of photos on our Twitter and Instagram accounts (both are @MoreFrontWing), and I’ll get some better ones posted later today and in our photo galleries for the weekend when they go up early next week.

As for the atmosphere, here’s another one straight down the line: it’s critical for everyone to keep in mind that even if they get 40,000 people here for the inaugural running of this event this weekend, which would be a very respectable turnout, this place will look completely deserted. They’ve tried to cover up certain sections of grandstand and cram people into more concentrated groups, but there’s only so much that can be done. When the track looks empty on TV, do not panic! It might not be as bad as it seems.

That said, there aren’t a whole lot of people who were able to take today off work to enjoy the free practice day, and that’s understandable. It is a Thursday, after all (as I keep forgetting — need to remind myself constantly that today is not Friday and the race is not on Sunday). All of the gift shops and concession stands on the outside of the track are closed today, so things over there are pretty quiet. The area around Pagoda Plaza and the garages is busier. And the Yellow Shirts are downright friendly today! Not only have I not been whistled at once, but they all want to chat and I’ve even had a couple offer me rides on their golf carts to get to where I’m going. (Hope they show up when I start heading toward the south end of the track — that’s a fair walk from the media center.

So far we’ve had the Verizon IndyCar Series on track once this morning (the results of which you can find in our Grand Prix of Indianapolis Event Summary) — and yes, the second red flag was indeed for a loss of power in Race Control. A bit strange, but as pointed out by my seatmate here in the media center, James Black of 16th and Georgetown, at least they didn’t try to cover it up with a debris call or something.

We’ve also had the USF2000 series out for their first official practice session of the weekend (there was a test day yesterday). Florian Latorre topped that session followed by RC Enerson, Henrik Furuseth, Aaron Telitz, and Jake Eidson rounding out the top 5.

I’m heading out now to do some more exploring and snap some more photos. Back in a bit!


9:34 AM ET — Good morning from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where on-track activity is about to get under way for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend! Steph here providing live updates from trackside today and all weekend long.

We hear from our readers a lot that you appreciate our honest and candid opinions on things, so I’m going to fire this one straight down the line: it’s weird being here right now. Why am I at IMS on a Thursday two weeks before Memorial Day weekend? Picking up credentials usually takes hours, but there was no wait today — in fact, the landscaping was still being completed in front of the IMS administration building at 16th and Georgetown when I arrived — and it’s much quieter at the moment than I’m used to. I’ve never been one of the first people here for a race weekend before. I’m sure things will pick up, but for the moment it’s throwing me for a bit of a loop.

Another thing that’s upending me is the weather. It was about 40 degrees when I left Toronto yesterday, and it’s going to be closer to 85 today as the day goes on. Hoosiers love to joke that if you don’t like Indiana weather in May then you just have to wait 15 minutes, but come on — this is a bit much! I suppose it’s cheaper than a trip to Florida, though, and it’s hard to complain about heat after the extended winter we’ve been having on this part of the continent.

My plan for the day is to walk around the track and take in as many of the vantage points as I can to get an idea for what fans might see and where they might want to be throughout the three days of this event. It’s a nice, late start here today with the Verizon IndyCar Series taking to the track for first practice at 10 AM. The full weekend schedule plus much more information can be found at our Grand Prix of Indianapolis Event Summary. Please keep checking in — I’ll be providing updates throughout the day!

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