Indy 500 Centennial Era Carb Day Photo Diary

By | May 29, 2011

That Donald Trump was originally slated to host what is being dubbed the 100th Anniversary of the Indy 500 race is happily something that will not be going into the history books.

Four time Indy winner A.J. Foyt will drive the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS pace car.

Facts and figures of the 95th Indianapolis 500

Now if you were paying attention, you will note that 95 runnings does not add up to 100 for a centennial. In a nutshell, the track opened in 1909, and the first Indy 500 was in 1911. There were years during both WWI and WWII when the race was not held. Thus the difference in numbers. The past three years culminating this year have been labeled the Centennial Era for the fabled race.

This race is still considered one of the premiere racing events in the world. And it is quintessentially American in flavor.

For the past 5-6 years or more, a couple of computing technology companies have held a combination vendor show and customer appreciation day at the Speedway on Carb Day, and one of the nice benefits of my job for all those years was the chance to attend. Even though I retired as of March 1, I sill do independent consulting on database development and IT support.

So following is a picture rich diary from 2011 Carb Day, May 27. Most of the pictures were taken down in the pit, from one end to the other. The pictures were taken from about 10:30 to 11:30 for the most part. Final practice for drivers and final tweaks to cars under track conditions happens on Carb Day between 11:00 and 12:00 in the morning.

And at 11:00 ON THE NOSE the cars started roaring out of their pits and onto the track.

My only regret for the day was I forgot to stick earplugs in my pocket.

For those who might ask, all photos were taken with my Pentax K10 Digital SLR. The lens was the Pentax SMC DA* F2.8 50-135 (70 – 210 35 mm equivalent) digital telephoto/zoom lens. All were shot with natural light, no flash. The day was pretty much overcast and cool. Since I had foolishly left my windbreaker in the car, I had a good excuse to buy a nice Centennial Era zip up jacket/sweater at one of the many gift shops near the Pagaoda.

The above car is in the A.J. Foyt team garage. We had Garage passes and got walk through the garage complex, and back out Gasoline Alley, the passage from the garage to the track itself.

Ana Beatriz, one of three women in this years field.

One of the really cool things about having a pit pass is you get to be very close to the cars and the drivers, and can watch the proceedings in each team pit up close and personal. We even got to chat with one driver, and he even posed with a friend who was with me for a photo.

But the opportunities for some really colorful pictures is the key pleasure if you love photography. I particularly like the color coordinated water bottle sitting on the sill of this driver’s cockpit. Apparently he can accessorize as well as drive fast.

Everything is computerized. Every team has set ups like this, and they are tracking the car and performance real time on multiple monitors.

Driver is Dan Wheldon.

Driver is E.J. Viso. He was nice enough to let one of my friends get the photo with him.

Fire Extinguishers. Hmmm. Seems reasonable to me.

I assume I do not need to point out that advertising and sponsor info is plastered on every square inch of available space, on cars, clothing, drivers suits, gear, and in the pit areas, including fuel tanks? For this one, we joked over whether or not the contents were intended for the car or the spectators.

This is the Fuzzy Vodka car. Drive is Ed Carpenter.

The next half dozen shots capture driver James Hinchcliffe of Newmann Hass team, going through steps to get his head protection and helmet on. Fascinating.

Same driver as above, getting ready to squeeze down into the cockpit. If you have never seen the inside, imagine an incredible tight, narrow space, legs forward with supports under upper part of each back leg, and a steering wheel so small it looks like a toy. I am amazed at what it must take to steer one of these cars with that wheel at over 200 mph.

GoDaddy’s / Danica Patrick’s pit crew. They did not look all that happy. Perhaps they were looking for the missing elephant in the room. (If you don’t get it, go Google GoDaddy CEO kills African Elephant.)

Former race winner Helio Castroneves.

Driver J Howard.

Driver Oriol Servia. Look closely at the helmet. Salvador Dali would be pleased, I think.

More on his helmets: Orial’s Helmets

The Pagoda seen from inside pit row.

This team had one of the monitors mounted outside the computer booth, so everyone walking by could stop and view it.

This is a sample of the souvenirs that go with the Indy experience. For gun owners, for three grand you can own a limited edition Indy 500 Centennial Rifle. Limited to 100 numbered rifles, reportedly.

Just before noon we ran into a long line that had suddenly formed in front of the Photo Shop just SE of the Pagoda. We asked the people why they were in line. They were waiting to buy an official Centennial Era pin that was about to go on sale. We decided to opt for moving on to lunch.

The FireHawk Tire Mascot. He starts the 40 lap race that is run every Carb Day 1t 12:30. Two strange birds in this photo.

Taken from within the garage area off Gasoline Alley, with the Pagoda in the background.

And, since this is Indiana, home of the Hoosiers, I was not the least surprised to find an autograph signing session (for various fees, depending on what you bought to have signed), featuring several members of the 1952 Milan, Indiana team, whose fame was portrayed in the movie “Hoosiers” with Gene Hackman. If you have never seen the movie, by the way, go see it. It is so much more than just a basketball movie.

Hope you enjoyed these. Here’s to a safe and exciting running of the 100th, no make that the 95th, wait…. whatever. Here is to another great running of the Indianapolis 500, one of the greatest races in the world. Really.