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DAN'S PHOTO JOURNALS
105th INDIANAPOLIS 500
SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2021
Four days ago, I did not have race tickets.  My
contact in NY who provides my tickets was M.I.A.  

I got lucky and found great tickets on Craigslist.
I had to pay over face value, something I do not
usually do, but time was short and tickets in short
supply this year.

ET came into town Friday morning and we went to
Carb Day.  On Saturday, we returned to the
speedway to tour the museum.  I had tickets for
an outdoor rock concert last night, but we skipped
it and stayed home.

I got up at 9 a.m. today and a friend called me
and said she was already at the track.  She was
in Turn 1 and was going to be one of the flag
bearers who would hold up the 300' American flag
during opening ceremonies. I don't know how she
landed that job.

I needed to shower, make breakfast
and lunch,
pack the cooler for the track and finally load the
car.  Time was short and I was feeling some
stress.

We left for the track about noon and the green flag
drops at 12:45 p.m.  It was going to be close!
I could not believe when it was over - it was too
soon!

Then another amazing thing happened at the end,
all the fans stayed!  They usually start moving out
fast.  

On the Jumbotron, I saw Castroneves do his
tradtitional fence climb. It then took a long time for
him to get to the Winner's Circle. I was waiting for
him to drive around on top of a convertible with his
family and team-owner to wave to fans - a 500
tradition.  They drive very slow and it took a long
time to reach us in Turn 4.
I had been under the impression that Section 1 in
the NW Vista was the best spot of the 4th Turn.
I am not so sure now. I could see turns 3 and 4
better, but did not have as good of a view of the
front stretch in these seats.

I brought both my 18mm wide-angle and my
300mm zoom lenses for my Nikon.  I also used a
camcorder.  I never used my binoculars today.

There was not a cloud in the blue sky.  The
temperature was perfect. By watching the race
flags strung along the top of the stands, I'd guess
winds ranged from 5-15 mph today.
Some great drivers, including the odds-favorite
Scott Dixon, did not end up doing well. We saw
some of the new guys up front, which has been
an exciting trend this year.

The biggest surprise for all was that
Helio
Castroneves
won the race in a tight battle with
Alex Palou.  A 3-time winner, Castroneves had
not won the race since 2009.  For the first time in
his Indy 500 career, he was not driving for Team
Penske, but for a smaller team - Meyer Shank
Racing.  Also, he had not competed in any
IndyCar races this year!  Also of his results last
fall in the Harvest Grand Prix had been dismal.
Traffic was not a problem   I needed to park near
the 4th turn. I came down Georgetown Road as
far as I could and turned west on 25th Street,
which is by my entrance.

I found a guy right away who sold us a Lot 8
parking pass for $50.  I cut south to 23rd street.  
The lot is right on Georgetown Rd.  Great spot.

We hustled into the track with a few other
stragglers.  A person at the gate glanced in my
cooler.  There were not many workers there.
We cruised in without getting our tickets scanned
as the one ticket taker was busy with others.

As we reached the outside of the NW Vista,
some fighter jets flew overhead.

We made it to our seats at the top of the stands
in time to hear "Back Home Again", which is one of
my favorite pre-race things.  The four jets had
circled around and did another fly-by for me.

Woo Hoo!

Our seats were in Section 11, row B, which is the
top row of the Deck.
There were only two cautions during the entire
race.  Three drivers had a little trouble in the pits,
when they spun their cars.  
Stefan Wilson was
the first and took the worst of it when he smacked
the pit wall around Lap 32, ending his day and
bringing out the first caution.  

The only on track accident happened on Lap 118
when
Graham Rahal exited the pits, lost a wheel
and slid across the track into the Turn 2 wall, not
hitting anyone.  However his wheel flew into the
air and came down hitting the nose of
Conor
Daly's
car, but he finished the race.
A panarama photo I made using three photos
The Indianapolis Skyline.  The NFL Colt's stadium is on the far right.
With tickets limited to 40% of capacity, people
were able to spread out some.  I had enough
room to move about and wasn't touching anyone.
The speedway looked pretty full none the less.  

IMS sold out, so the race was broadcast live on
Indianapolis television.

While the two-row deck where I was sitting had
seat backs, the rest of the stand does not.  I
noticed that IMS was still renting cushioned seats
with seat backs to people.
The Famous 3-Wide Parade Lap
After having moved up 11 spots in the field,  
Something happened to
Simona De Silvestro in
the pits on lap 169, ending her day.  These were
the only drivers who did not finish the race!
I wonder if that is a record?

With so few incidents, this race was over in 2-
hours and 37-minutes, with an average speed of
190.7 mph.  

It was the fastest Indy 500 in history!
Swedish Driver Marcus Ericsson started in 9th and finished in 11th.
Penske rookie Scott McLaughlin had some good press, but he finished in 20th.
Alex Palou almost won the 500 today, but finished 2nd.
Chip Ganassi Racing replaced Felix Rosenqvist with him over the winter.
24-year-old Alex Palou is in his second season of IndyCar.
Consequently I don't know anyone who was
betting on him.  Note though, that he has been
racing top-tier since leaving IndyCar full-time.  He
and
Alex Rossi were on the DPi team that won
this year's Rolex 24.

Castroneves finally joined the 4-Timer's Club and
I think everyone was happy to be there to see
that, even if their favorite driver did not win.  We
had not seen a driver accomplish the feat since
Rick Mears did it back in 1991.

So, it was an exceptionally safe and fast race.  
In addition, there were many passes for the lead
among a dozen drivers.
Cars Entering Turn 3
There is another deck above the SW Vista Deck.  There are guys in black standing on it.
Someone told me they were spotters.
Today was a GREAT day for everyone as the weather was fantastic and
the race fast and safe.  Personally, I was able to take my time, miss
traffic, find excellent parking and have a good seat. What a day!

However, I am left wondering why there was no balloon release this year.  
Usually a zillion multi-colored helium balloons are released as part of the
pre-race ceremonies.  Not this year.

I'm also bummed that I never made it inside to the Pagoda Plaza or
Gasoline Alley this month.  I never took the long walk beside the pits.  I
suppose the reason is that infield parking was not allowed and my seats
were in the outside corners, far from the tunnel.  I will make sure and
rectify this next year.  Well, heck, the year is not up yet, there's the
Harvest Grand Prix coming up (or whatever they decide to call it.  Hmm,
my tickets to that are in Stand H...)

I have often wished I could hear the race broadcast at the track.  
Scanners are expensive and a hassle with all their cords.  I also have little
desire to monitor what is being said by the race teams and trying to
determine what team or driver is talking.  Since IndyCar Radio broadcasts
on local FM 107.5, I bought some $40 AM/FM headphones to try out.  I
was very surprised that they blocked out noise so well, that I could hear
the radio broadcast well and that they did not make my ears sweat.  I
have since discovered they are great for mowing and trimming the lawn
as they cut out so much noise plus I get to listen to some music.

As usual, E.T. and I hung out until almost everyone had left.

The food stalls had closed.  I wandered over to a booth where local
artist Justin Patten was selling his wares. He painted bright swaths of
colors over the IMS Wings & Wheels logo and was selling paintings,
shirts, flags, etc.  I liked the design and bought a hat for the chick who
called earlier - she loves IndyCar and the 500.  
He has an Etsy store -
Storm Striker

E.T. and I then left the track and went across the street to look at a few
booths.  One was selling race scanners.  They had some other things for
sale and I picked up a die-cast race car.  

I then went to a trailer where they were selling neon lights.  I bought a
"Indy Racing" one for $220.

I was tempted to get a corn dog, but figured I'd save my appetite for
something better...like beer.  So we headed to the car.  Someone was
having a street party nearby, the music blasting.  A couple of cops hung
out on the corner by their cruiser, ignoring them.

With the top down, I drove through downtown for the first time since the
pandemic started.

I didn't wear a hat or sun block today.  Once back home, I discovered
my face was sunburned.

The next day, E.T. headed home, but not
before I took his new Alfa
Romeo
Giulia for a test drive.

That night, I also got to drive a friend's new Camaro ZL1.  It is the most

powerful car I've ever driven and it sounded great!  It's powered by a
650-HP supercharged 6.2L
V-8.  Wow!
As he passed, several young guys climbed the
catch fence in celebration.  This fence climbing
was happening sporadically around the track
from what I could see.

Normally the yellow-shirt workers would have
prevented this, but today there were not enough
of them.  I would estimate that their numbers
were about a third or a fourth of what was
normal.

Whether that was due to Penske management or
the labor shortage in Indy, I do not know.
HELIO CASTRONEVES - WINNER!
Turns 3 and 4
Turn 4
It was weird that the Turn 3 infield was not packed with fans.
Fans were not allowed to park or spectate from the infield this year
due to the speedway's pandemic precautions.
The speedway now require the guys who take
down the flags after the race, to wear a safety
rope.
Beware sitting between avid race fans!
My New Headphones
My New Hat
My New Neon Sign