Dan's IndySpeedway.com

Dan's 2004 Speedway Journal

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U.S. Grand Prix
Saturday June 19, 2004

E.T. went to see Primus last night in Detroit and drove down to Indy afterwards, arriving and waking me up about 8 am.

I got ready pretty quick and we headed to the track; I didn't bring my camera. We parked in someone's yard near the track for $10. ET was trying to sell 2 of his tickets, so he had them in a ticket holder around his neck. The guy at the gate thought they were tickets for qualifying and he let us both in for free saving us $40!!

We found good seats up high in section 12 of Stand H to watch F1 Qualifying. These seats provided an excellent view of the cars screaming down the front straight and breaking from 215mph to 85 for turn 1. We could also see them in the infield section, particularly turn 6. These seats are popular for a reason and they were packed full.

F1 still sends out one driver at a time for the preliminary qualifying - this first session determines the order of qualifying for session 2, ie. the fastest drivers in session 1 get to qualify last in session 2. The speeds in session 1 are faster because they fill the fuel tanks up for session 2 because that is the fuel they will start with on race day. Consequently, the fastest times in session 1 were 1 minute 09 seconds and 1 minute 10 seconds in the final qualifying. Ferrari won the front row.

We stayed and watched the Formula BMW USA series, then we hiked over to the museum where E.T. bought some Indy 500 shirts on sale while the Porsches were out on the track. Then we walked around to the team displays where E.T. was unable to find a B.A.R. shirt that touted HONDA whom he loves.

We wandered outside the track and walked down Georgetown road looking in the vendor tents. I found a small 1969 F1 car model that I bought for $10. E.T. ended up selling his 2 $150 tickets for $70 each to a scalper. Tickets are not selling well this year.

We made it back to the car and then we drove to a nearby shopping center where he met two people he'd arranged to buy his other two tickets.

I decided to drive downtown. E.T. was very impressed beginning with the view as we headed into the city. They had the center of town (monument circle) blocked off for a little festival. We parked and walked into the circle. There was a cool car show and I really regret that I didn't bring my camera. First, we encountered lots of Jaguars from old E-types to a modern supercar. I saw a new Aston Martin which I think is about the most perfect looking road car imaginable. There were old Deusenbergs and Auburns, even some old race cars, such as a 1935 Indycar! I was stunned by a huge antique Rolls Royce that had incredible woodwork on the inside and where there should have been lots of chrome on the outside - it was gold-plated! Chrysler had their new supercar there - it was the only car on the circle that was roped off. We ended our tour at the award ceremony, our timing was perfect to watch the judging results - each winner drove his car up to receive a crystal trophy.

Dinner at Houlahan's and then we hit a few nightclubs on Meridian street, ending the night finally at Nickey Blaine's for martinis.

U.S. Grand Prix
Sunday June 20, 2004

We got up at 9 and headed for the track around 10-10:30. It was a marvelous sunny day with mild temps and a light breeze just like yesterday. While it was a late time to be showing up, we had no traffic and drove down into the middle of a speedway neighborhood to park. We parked at Cole and 22nd street for just $15. We were about 100 yards from the gate.

Once inside the track, there was about 40 minutes to go until race time. We were surprised to see that the tower terrace was practically empty, so we entered there and sat up high in the shade near the pagoda tower. We decided to stay here so that we could see the start of the race. The Paddock was largely unpopulated too. The other stands though were pretty full.

The cars started their engines and began the warmup lap, that is except Montoya. His car wouldn't start and he jumped out and ran for his garage. Here you can see them pushing his car off of the track.

Montoya hopped into his backup car and pulled out here on pit lane. After the race started, he followed them out in last place. He ended up working his way up to third place throughout the day! Amazingly though, the race stewards black-flagged him toward the end of the race. They claimed that he had 15 seconds to get his backup car out there and he ran over a few seconds. This upset most everyone. Rather bizarre that the FIA race stewards would let Juan Pablo drive almost the entire race before bringing this rule infraction to his attention.

There was a big crash at the very first turn involving 4 cars. This brought out the seldom-used Safety Car. At this point, we decided to hike to our real seats over in the new Turn 6 stands. These stands provide a decent view of the infield action, however the distance between your knees and the back of the guy infront of you was too close. You can't get to your cooler. It was too tight and I'll never sit there again.

After getting sunburned yesterday, the sun was too much for ET today, so he went down front to stand under the shade of a tree. This freed up some room for me. We would see quite a bit of the safety car during this confusing race.

View from Turn 6 Terrace

My favorite driver, Fernando Alonso, had a stunning start, weaving back and forth on the opening run, moving from 9th place (8th now with Montoya out) to 3rd by the first turn!! I was soon bumming though. His right rear tire had evidently picked up some shard and blew out as he approached turn 1. His car had a high-speed wiggle and then went nose-first into the outside wall. :-(

The race barely got restarted when Ralph Schumacher had a similar tire problem that spun him backwards into the outside wall in turn 13 (Not that I knew it at the time as there are no tv's in view of these stands. If you sit here ,you better have a radio if you want to know what is happening in the race.) He was hurt and did not get out of the car. I mentioned in these journals a year or so ago about the ineptness of the ambulance crew at the F1 race. This time was no different - the ambulance took 3 MINUTES to get to him!! They took him out on a stretcher, then paraded him around the entire track. Later they said he was just bruised. Once he got back to Germany they discovered he'd broken his back in two spots and would have to sit out of racing for a few months!


View from Turn 6 Terrace


View from Turn 6 Terrace

For a while, the two BAR Hondas were on Schumi's tail, but something happened to them and Rubens began trying to catch Michael.

View from Turn 6 Terrace


View from Turn 6 Terrace

With about 5 laps to go, I left the stands and ET and I walked over to the back straight to watch the final laps.

You should have see the front of her! Wow. I couldn't get my camera out in time...

Here was a cool street car -

ET and I went back to the Tower Terrace. We sat in the furthest North end, Section 79, seat 10, row MM. These seats are amazing, as you not only get to the the front straight, but turns 1-7 and the back straight!

We watched the Formula BMW USA race.

There was a close battle for 1st. Good race!

Here's a panarama picture showing turns 1-6 from these seats.

After the last event of the day, we hit the vendors for some track food. I tried the all-beef shishkabobs ($6). They were excellent! I then tried the funnel cake with powdered sugar. It was ok. We got back to my house about 4pm and grilled up some hamburgers and watched the race as I had taped it.

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