Who will taste the milk at Indy? [Indianapolis 500 Live Thread]
There were three million paving blocks in 1911. Today only a yard of brick remains. The 2.5 mile path is surrounded by steel and concrete, silent centuries to the history made here.
Once again it is time to add to the history of the Speedway with the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Coverage begins on ABC at 11, with the green flag scheduled for just after noon eastern time, at 12:12 pm.
Between these walls, the risks are great. Emotions come from both ends of the spectrum. The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is quite simply a spectacle, a celebration of technology and humanity.
Over a quarter million of people (including this writer) will be packed into the Speedway today to experience that emotion. The 29 drivers that have raced here before have felt that emotion, from the highs of winning to the dejection of just missing victory to the devastation of not making the race at all. For the four rookies, their journey through those emotions begins today.
Since then, the lineage has raced on. Men who share that special look. The brotherhood of the best. Down the years, they have sought a common goal: victory in the Indianapolis 500.
Leading that lineage in the modern day are Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti. Both are 3-time winners looking to join the exclusive 4-time winners club, which currently consists of just three names. Helio looks to have the better chance, starting 8th with the leading Chevy engine. Dario is back in 17th and stuck with a Honda engine that's been behind all month. However, it was the exact same situation last year and it was Dario that ended up in Victory Lane.
In 1925, Pete DePaolo average 100 mph. Today 220 is the standard.
With an average speed of 228.762 mph, Ed Carpenter starts from the pole. Carpenter is as good on the ovals as anyone in this field, and his owner/driver of a small team story provides an underdog going up against the big boys from the big teams such as Penske and Andretti.
In the 30s, the cars led the technology. Cast iron and shaped sheet metal. Today, titanium and carbon fiber define the ultimate racing machine.
Most don't think the new cars, which debuted in 2012, are the best looking, but boy can they race, as last year's 500 attested. Judging by the racing so far this year and the action is practice, this year's 500 looks to be just as exciting and competitive, if not more.
Danger has always been a passenger. Like the track and the speed, it is a constant. Ever present, it too is a part of the lure. Without that risk, the men are just ordinary.
The danger has been reduced over the years thanks to safety advances, but the danger will always lurk. Nowhere is that more the case than the start of the race, when 33 cars in 11 rows of three scream into the first turn. Many longtime Indy watchers are concerned this year thanks to Carlos Munoz, the rookie starting in the middle of the front row. He's been fast, but erratic during practice. It might not be fair, but everyone's wondering if Munoz will try and win the race in the first turn.
Now the heroes of this age wait. They weigh the odds, consider the risks, and they pray the dream today will be theirs.
In many ways, the fans are praying as much as the drivers. The two getting the most attention about winning their first 500 are Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Marco came impossibly close in 2006, and has ran well at Indy since. Last year the first half of the race was his, but he couldn't hold it. This year, he's shown newfound maturity he'd never had before, and starts today on the outside of the front row. For Kanaan, 2012 marked his 8th year overall leading the race, but he couldn't hold onto that lead in the final restart and finished 3rd. He seems at peace with the fact he might not win the 500, but that doesn't mean the passion burns any less hot.
(55) years ago, AJ Foyt was an apprentice. Today he is a master.
After many years where his team was average at best, Foyt's team has surged back to the top. His new driver, Takuma Sato, has a race win and the IndyCar points lead. Last year, of course, Sato went for the win on the final lap only to crash. Today we see if Sato can put the grand champion Foyt back in Victory Lane at Indy.
Jules Goux drank six bottles of champagne on his road to victory. Today it's a frosty bottle of milk that awaits the eventual winner. That and so much more.
The six bottles of champagne story is almost certainly a myth, but the milk has become iconic. Four drivers in today's race have tasted the best glass of milk in the world. If someone other than those four win, it will mark the 68th individual champion of the Indy 500.
The yard of bricks have witnessed the high speed passage of history. In just a few hours, 500 miles from now, a (97th) story will have been written. A new likeness will be added to a timeless silver cup, and a new name will sit atop the lineage of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500.
I made my pick earlier this week, but there are at least 8 drivers with a good chance to win, and many others that could conceivably get the job done. It promises to be another classic Indy 500. Q it up here throughout the race.
(Thanks to the 1991 race Delta Force intro for the backdrop to this post.)