The prestige associated with the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway speaks for itself. It ranks among the elite events in world sport and draws the interest of everyone from the fleeting racing viewer to the die-hards and even those in between who may focus more on other global motorsports series’.
As such, the eyes of the world are again on this normally unassuming city in the grand old American mid-west. For the month of May each year, the flocks arrive to fill the city’s hotels, empty the pantries (and the kegs) of the bars and clubs within eyesight of the surrounding horizons.
For this and many more reasons, it is the single biggest one-day sporting event in the world in terms of spectator attendance. The sea of humanity as the grid rounds Turn 4 in the customary rows of three is one of the sporting world’s most breathtaking sights. Often it is speckled with thousands of balloons released, the smoke of fireworks and the noise of fighter jets recently thundered overhead.
Through it all, the focus at that point will be on hometown boy and polesitter Ed Carpenter, another Indianapolis success story cultivated among the annals of many who have come before from faraway lands, drank the ceremonial buttermilk (and orange juice in one instance) and then left again in a trail of their own burnt rubber marks on the road.
Carpenter continues to live in the city, with his wife and two children, all of whom will be there to see if all of the promise can be realised at the culmination of three hours, 200 laps and 500 miles of wheel to wheel action unrivalled anywhere in the world.
Different ideas linger in the heads of 32 others on this particular day however, and many grand dreams of success and glory have been shattered at the very first corner, so for Ed, completing the opening lap will be critical. The two-time series winner has the experience though to see him through any potential opening lap carnage, at least from the perspective of his own possible fault.
It’s a long race though, at least six or seven pitstops for the most ambitious strategist, and close to ten for the more pessimistic or risky. The number of caution periods will also see strategies calculated and recalculated on the run and gambles taken. Do I skip a stop on the hope of another caution soon afterwards? Do I pit under green in the hope of a caution immediately following? There’s more chance of the gamble not working than winning, and when gambles don’t work out, they can put any fleeting hope of a strong finish firmly to bed.
Indy also has the ability to immortalise a man who may otherwise have gone down in the Indy history books without the greatest of career achievements. Rather than name names, you’re welcome to speculate as to who in your opinion may fit into that category, but I’m talking about men who have always had the talent to get the job done, but for one reason or another, the planets have just never aligned or all of the right circumstances come together often enough to bring the championships and glittering accolades.
Crossing the finish line first after two hundred laps on the final Sunday in May however, and all of a sudden, a contender becomes a legend. Who will it be in 2013? Which name and likeness will be carved onto the side of the famed Borg Warner Trophy alongside those who have inspired all who line up in eleven rows of three tomorrow? The mind boggles at the possibilities and the mouth salivates at the prospects. Let’s go Indiana!
Ladies and Gentlemen, enjoy the 2013 Indianapolis 500.