The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most iconic racing facilities in all the world and I recently had the opportunity to race there. The place is immense, it is a two and a half mile oval and also one hundred years of history along with the famous yard of bricks at the start/finish line, the long stretch of grandstands, the timing tower, Gasoline Alley and the signature glass pagoda.
As I approached the tunnel to enter the facility, I thought about my racing heroes growing up, including Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and Unsers. And now I would have the opportunity to race on portions of the same track as they did. An emotional moment for sure.
But then there was work to be done. I had a scheduled engine change to perform once I arrived, as the previous motor had failed during the last race at Mid-Ohio. Unfortunately, none of the oil line connections were set up for my car and I had to work late into the night to get the task done. So much for the glamor and excitement of racing.
The weather for the entire weekend was to be beautiful and I was about to go out on this historic track for the first time. The first practice session was less than to be desired, only highlighted by the run down the Indy front straight, crossing the famous yard of bricks, very cool.
I ultimately qualified 9th for the race on Saturday. As we were running the road course, we travel down the front straight in the opposite direction as the Indy 500. We then funnel into the road course where chaos can always be expected. Sure enough, a couple cars made contact, one launching up in the air. I managed to squeak through on the inside, just missing a spinning car. I ran most of the race in 3rd place but ultimately got passed with only a few corners to go and ended up finishing 4th.
For the race on Sunday, I was qualified 5th and looking forward to a top three finish. It unfortunately was not to be. Approaching the green flag, I got a great start, but going to shift, it wouldn’t go into the next gear and I was then promptly hit from behind on my left rear tire. The car behind me launched into the air, and then I got hit on the right rear, launching that car as well. The next thing I know there were numerous cars spinning and bouncing off the concrete walls of the front straight. And then it was over. An ambulance ride to the track hospital was required by all the drivers, I was OK, but there were others that would be sore and one driver taken to Methodist Hospital with a broken wrist.
Formula Vee is by no means the fastest car out there, but when things happen, they happen quickly. I had a great experience at Indianapolis, I just wish the outcome of Sunday’s race had been better for everyone involved. They say “that’s racing” and we move on to the next race. In my case it would be the next weekend; the June Sprints at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.