Photo from kron4.com
Last year’s inaugural Indy Grand Prix on the revamped IMS road course featured some frightening moments, including a spectacular collision when pole sitter Sebastien Saavedra stalled it on the standing start and was smashed into by former Schmidt driver Mad Russian Mikhail Aleshin. In a separate horrifying incident during the race flying debris struck The Honorable Mayor James Hinchcliffe in the head briefly incapacitating the crazy Canuck while still very much behind the wheel. Incredibly James was only the second Mayor hit by flying carbon fiber pieces that day as Mayor Greg Ballard was struck at the start. Other than those unsettling and deleterious circumstances, IndyCar’s first race through the snake pit went off without a hitch. That is, unless one finds a Frenchman winning such an historic race on hallowed ground to be irksome, in which case last year’s event was a highly distasteful affair.
Photo from foxsports.com
Thankfully IndyCar’s done away with the ridiculous F-1 wanna-be standing starts this year. The drivers and cars could never quite seem to master them anyway. The Speedway brass in their infinite new found financial wisdom have also severely upped the signage at the historic racetrack this year, with Doug Boles uttering something about “balance,” and “moving the sport forward” as an excuse. Allison, Sunoco, Panasonic and most irritatingly race sponsor Angie’s List are all prominently and crassly displayed throughout the ancient and sacred institution that is IMS. At the start/finish line, the double Angie’s List banner hangs so low that it significantly blocks views of the front straightaway, leading fans to want to put Angie and Boles on their list.
Photo from automopedia.org
The series holding a second race at 16th & Georgetown still feels strange to longtime “traditionalist” fans of the 500 like ourselves, and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 and the motorbike races feel icky as well. It’s understandable from a dollars and cents standpoint – no one wants to see the series go under, save for Gerry Forsythe – and we’re willing to give the event another chance after last year’s circus of carbon fiber shredding and flying debris. That said, the GP like all the rest is only an appetizer for the one real race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway of the year, the Indy 500. Thank goodness Chevy and particularly Honda have reinforced and/or done away with those ridiculous aero kit wings in advance of this year’s GP, else even more Mayors would be in harm’s way.
Image from Indy Race Reviewer
2014 winner and famous frog Simon Pagenaud will be a threat to repeat with his new Team Penske, along with Montoya and Helio. Fourth Penske pilot Will Power‘s in the grips of a nasty slump dating back to last fall and continues to flail and trail the others. It’ll be interesting to see if he can turn his season around before the oval stretch of the schedule arrives. If he can’t it’ll be a long season for the off-kilter Aussie and defending series champ. Spritely young American Josef Newgarden’s as hot as they come fresh off his win at Barber while Scott Dixon‘s been oh so close in his Target Chevy machine and excels on road courses. Barring a spate of injuries from flying debris, the GP of Indy should be a tasty hors d’ oeuvres, but only that. It’ll definitely leave us hungrier still for the high feast of the open wheel season at IMS on May 24th.