Following a late start due to inclement weather, day one of qualifying for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 took place today. Several drivers were clocking laps over 230 mph, even faster in the straightaways. Though many of the names aren’t household anymore to casual viewers, the owners’ names of some of the most successful runs today were. Michael Andretti put 4 cars in the Top 9, Chip Ganassi 2, and Roger Penske had one car near the top of the speed charts as well. Some things stay the same. In fact, a lot of things stay the same at the corner of 16th and Georgetown Streets in Indianapolis. Specifically, breathtaking speed, and danger.
It’s a blessing that safety has and continues to improve over the years in motorsports, because the brutality of the Brickyard never changes. Nearly every year, whether it be in practice, qualifying, or the race itself, the Brickyard gets its victim. Today was no different. Take a look:
That’s Sebastien Bourdais. Longtime Indycar veteran driver, and former open wheel champion. At the time, he was clocking at pole position speed. Having a great run. Then turn 2 happened. The great news is he survived. He’s at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indy where he is undergoing surgery on a broken right hip and multiple pelvic fractures. At 38 years old, Sebastien’s career may be over, but he has something far more valuable than an Indy 500 win….he has his life. I’ve seen less brutal wrecks at this place that ended in death. The safety measures of the track and the car did their job, and thankfully the Brickyard can’t add another to its long list of fatalities.
To think that after cleaning up the track and repairing the wall, 20 more drivers went out there and put it on the line is nothing short of unimaginable. How? One driver going to the hospital is one too many, but considering the risk involved, that figure is amazing. It speaks to the sheer courage and skill of these drivers. They run so close to the edge. This could happen to every driver on every single hot lap. I suppose that’s what separates Indycar drivers from everyone else in the world.
I know motorsports in general is not nearly as popular as it once was. I think younger generations just aren’t interested in cars the way my generation and certainly generations older than me are. Yet regardless of what one thinks about racing, or specifically my passion, Indycar racing, I’ll never question how special this place and this race are. As a native Hoosier, the 500 is a great sense of pride to me. It’s the greatest spectacle in racing, and it’s our race. The names have changed over the years. The cars have certainly changed too. But there’s still nothing like Indy. I gotta believe that’s how these drivers feel. That must be why they’re willing to risk paying the ultimate price to tame the Brickyard.
Day 2 Qualifying on Sunday. The race is next Sunday. If you blink, you might miss it. These guys are pretty fast!!!! Stay tuned!