THE SUN IS OUT…AGAIN
The sun shined once again in Indianapolis on Saturday and hundreds of thousands of racegoers will be hoping for more of the same come Sunday’s Indy 500.
Thousands of people lined the city’s streets for the traditional pre-race parade – centering on the theme of ‘Accelerating the American Spirit’.
The event of course marks the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ but also honours men and women who have served the United States (Memorial Weekend).
It was a brilliant atmosphere as 14 bands marched and performed side-by-side with a procession of floats and helium balloons, which all had a motorsport theme.
Hundreds of volunteers were involved in the procession as people gathered along Pennsylvania and Meridian Streets.
See below for a glimpse of the action:
LEGENDS DAY AND CONCERTS
In another pre-Indy 500 tradition, Saturday saw legendary drivers of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit meet fans for autograph and memorabilia sessions before the fourth annual Legends Day concert – featuring multi-platinum selling and award-winning artist Keith Urban.
HOW TO WATCH THE ACTION UNFOLD IN THE UAE…
The race begins at 12.19pm local time (8.19pm UAE time) in Indianapolis on Sunday May 28.
The Indy 500 will be available for viewing on ESPN.
Sport360.com will also have full coverage of the race across our channels.
Sport360’s Stuart Appleby interviews Dubai-born Indy 500 star Ed Jones before he takes to the track at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway circuit in Indiana on Sunday.
ED: I have to pinch myself that I’m about to race in the Indy 500 for the first time. When you’re doing so many things at once you can sometimes forget about the enormity of it all but when you take stock – you’re very aware that you’re about to compete in the biggest motorsport race in the world.
I’ve done everything I can to prepare and I’ve been working really hard with the Dale Coyne Racing team in Indianapolis.
I’m feeling really confident, I had a great qualifying result and averaged over 230mph – outpacing three previous winners of the event.
My final practice session on Friday went okay and our race car, the 720bhp Dallara-Honda single-seater, has been really strong.
I’m confident my team of engineers will give me a solid car so now it’s just down to me on race day.
I’m in a good starting position, 11th place, and will begin from the middle of the fourth row. This is actually the best position Dale Coyne Racing have achieved in their history of IndyCar racing – so that’s a massive boost for the team and I.
I raced here last year in Indy Lights, so I came in with a bit of experience around the track but it’s obviously a lot more extreme when you’re going faster and it’s a place you’ve got to treat with so much respect, because you can end up paying a big price for a small mistake.
The heavy rainfall in Indiana throughout May has made the conditions a bit more unpredictable and they are always changing.
Although we know we will only race in dry conditions, the weather could still play a massive factor – affecting timings and the race schedule.
Our car works better than others in certain conditions and temperatures, so it’s still a bit of a lottery – but that applies to all drivers and teams.
It’s my first Indy 500 so I’m just going to have to try and keep myself together and focus on the process rather than getting too wound up in the whole experience.
But, that said, I know it’s a massive occasion and I do have to try and embrace it too. I’ve completed a lot of races now and I feel I can deal with everything.
The target is getting through those early laps where it can get quite busy and then making my way into the race – the aim is to be there at the last pitstop in the front group.
It was a really unfortunate crash for my team-mate Sebastien (Bourdais) but that’s what happens in this sport when you push the limits and he was gunning for a very fast qualifying time. It’s the risk factor.
Seb’s obviously hurt but he’s still in good mental shape and he will be missed in the race. I went to see him a few days ago and it’s great news he’s now been discharged from hospital. As always, he was there giving me tips so it’s good to see he’s still like that and thinking about racing.
I finished behind Fernando Alonso as the second quickest rookie in qualifying and his switch to IndyCar is huge for our sport. He has obviously achieved so much in his career and in Formula One.
But, there’s a lot of guys out there who are just as talented as he is. I know he wouldn’t have contemplated competing in Indianapolis unless he was positive he had the best equipment, so I’m sure he’s going to be very competitive.
Dubai is still home for me – my parents live there and I always go back in the off-season. It’s good to see all the local karting community watching all of my races, supporting me and sending messages. I’ll hopefully be back in mid-September to see everyone at the end of the season.
THE SUN SHINES IN THE MIDWESTERN STATE
Bright sun greeted me on arrival at the venue on Friday morning and it was great to see after heavy rain on Thursday.
Despite the forecast of more showers on race day (this Sunday), let’s hope the heavens don’t open and spoil the spectacle of racing’s biggest event.
It was Carb Day in Indiana – essentially a tune-up for the Indy 500 drivers – with a final practice session and last-minute mechanical tweaks.
On Sunday, up to 300,000 people will descend on the venue – and although there were far fewer spectators on Friday – it was great to see automobile fans soaking up the sun and enjoying themselves.
It made for a special atmosphere – which you can take in via the video above.
*Track phone clips from Indy 500 Freedom 100 race.
TOUR AROUND ESPN STUDIOS
As part of my Indy 500 press trip with ESPN, I was given an exclusive tour of their broadcast facilities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
ESPN – the biggest broadcaster at the race providing coverage to millions of people across the world – has more than 300 staff working on-site – from production to on-screen talent.
In addition, the broadcaster boasts 96 cameras across the large venue – helping to cover every angle and provide viewers with the very best coverage.
Having worked in various television roles previously, I’m aware of the high-level operational work that goes into producing live television.
But, even still, I walked away with a renewed sense of appreciation for what goes into broadcasting a sporting event of Indy 500’s scale.
ESPN production crews and equipment were in place in Indiana last Friday, illustrating the preparation that goes into the process.
Did you know that the majority of the teams and drivers competing in the Indy 500 literally camp out at the venue, enabling quick and easy access to the track!
I can’t confirm, though, whether the man himself – Fernando Alonso – opted for a caravan or hotel!
AND NOW FOR SOME NEWS…
Three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves rolled back the years on Friday, speeding to the fastest Carb Day practice lap.
The Brazilian posted a quickest speed of 227.377mph for Team Penske Chevrolet and completed the fastest of his 28 laps in 00:39.5819 seconds.
He was closely followed in the placings by as many as six Honda-powered cars – which included Fernando Alonso – back in sixth position.
Dubai’s Ed Jones, driving 19, ranked 23rd.
Meanwhile, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe suffered engine trouble on turn three.