The Indy 500 is a sporting event like no other and isn’t known as the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ for nothing.
And yet, I don’t think I fully appreciated its scale and for that matter how much the annual automobile race, which is set for its 101st edition on Sunday (June 28), meant to American sport and further afield. Until now.
Getting immersed in Indy build-up, seeing the frenzy around Fernando Alonso’s rookie bow and a city (and nation) painted in chequered flag colours, has really given me a sense of history and understanding of what makes IndyCar’s showpiece so special.
NOW FOR THE WEATHER…
Thursday saw yet more rain in Indiana and sparked fears it could affect Indy 500, especially given the race day forecast isn’t too promising.
Basically, bad news.
Most of the 33 drivers on the grid will surpass speeds in excess of 235mph, and for safety reasons, the race has to take place on a completely dry surface.
However, in the mid-western State, this May has been one of the wettest months on record and if further rain falls – organisers will be left with big decisions to make.
A tweak to the start time and reserve day options may come into play.
The green flag is normally dropped at 12.19pm, waving the way for drivers’ to take on 200 laps of the 2.5 mile-long Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval circuit.
‘If you don’t like the weather in Indiana, just wait a few minutes, and it’ll a change’ – is apparently the old adage in this part of the world.
Let’s hope that rings true.
The Spanish two-time World Champion was in excellent spirits as fans and media mobbed him.
Having achieved so much in his star-studded career, Sunday will be a step into the unknown as he makes his rookie appearance in the prestigious event for team McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.
Watch our video clip above to hear from the 35-year-old and get a taste of what life must be like for him living in the fast lane.
VICE PRESIDENT TO WATCH RACE
United States Vice President Mike Pence will be attending ‘as a fan’ and not in a political capacity, an official confirmed in the press room.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR LEGEND KANAAN?
After conducting an impromptu, fun interview with Alonso, 42-year-old Tony Kanaan discussed his own future.
The 2013 Indy 500 and 2004 IndyCar Series champion said: “I can tell you one thing, I’m not ready to retire from IndyCar right now.”
Here’s to more years then of seeing the brilliant Brazilian in action.
DID YOU KNOW?
The much-anticipated Indy race falls on Memorial Day weekend – a special day in the calendar here where people honour and remember veterans.
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO…
DUBAI’S ED JONES IN HIGH SPIRITS
I had an exclusive chat with the Dubai-born ace ahead of his debut in the event.
Jones, who found top speed in ‘Fast Friday’ qualifying – surpassing the 230mph mark – looks in prime shape.
Keep your eyes peeled for our full interview with Ed on Sport360.com.
His team, Dale Coyne Racing, were also boosted by the huge news that driver Sebastien Bourdais was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital following his practice crash.
I also spoke to ESPN commentators and former Indy racing stars Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear – look out for both interviews in due course.