Welcome To The Month Of May

Welcome to the Month of May. Here locally, the month got off to a wet start as Nashville saw flooding of biblical proportions. My basement/garage flooded, but I was able to get my cars out in time, never lost power and had minimal damage and losses. However, many here lost everything on Sunday. I’m very lucky. I was inconvenienced yesterday. Many in Nashville had their lives changed forever yesterday. Some lost their lives. It’s a bad way to start off the month. Even I realize there are more important things than racing. Yesterday was a not so gentle reminder of that. Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers. Here’s hoping for better things ahead.

Anyway…this site is now over a year old. I chose to launch it on May 1 of last year, simply because it was the beginning of the Month of May. To any fan of the Indianapolis 500, this is a sacred time of year. To commemorate the month, I plan to post here on a daily basis every weekday throughout the month. I probably won’t post on the first two weekends, but will post from the track during the qualifying weekend and also race weekend.

When I was growing up, the track opened for practice on May 1 and was open for the entire month every day up until qualifying was complete. The race was always run on Memorial Day, May 30, no matter which day of the week it fell on. I recall going to races on Wednesday as a child, it seemed normal at the time but would be rather bizarre now.

The Month of May continues to grow shorter and shorter. With all of the teams running the same car now for the past several years, it just doesn’t take too long to get a handle on the setup. There are not a whole lot of changes on these cars from one year to the next. There are a few aero tweaks that were given back to the teams last August at Kentucky, but it shouldn’t take too long to sort them out.

There is only one week of qualifying this year. With no real reason to be sorting out a car everyone is way too familiar with, it just doesn’t make too much financial sense to have the teams and crewmembers hanging around the track all month. What the Speedway has done is to give the fans two jam-packed days of qualifying as they experiment with a new pole-day format that takes its cue from the Firestone Fast Six qualifying on the non-ovals. Twenty-four cars will qualify on the first day. After 4:00, the top nine qualifiers will be locked into the first three rows, but then they will battle it out between those nine to see who not only gets the pole – but who can improve their position within the first three rows. It sounds interesting in theory. I’m anxious to see how it all plays out.

One of the many great traditions of the month begins tonight when Donald Davidson kicks off another season of The Talk of Gasoline Alley on WFNI 1070 “The Fan” in Indianapolis to answer questions “…of a nostalgic nature about the Indianapolis 500”. You can listen live online at 6:00 Eastern each weeknight or catch the archived shows posted later on their website. These are “must-have” items for your i-Pod. This season Kevin Lee, who will act as somewhat of a host – much the way Dave “The King” Wilson did a few years ago, joins Donald. One slight change this season will be that e-mails will be incorporated into the show. They will still take callers, but Kevin will sort through e-mails before the show in order to streamline things a bit.

Then we’ll get another bonus each night at 7:00 Eastern time as Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee go nightly during the Month of May following Donald Davidson each weeknight. If that didn’t cut into our nightly productivity enough, the Speedway opens on Saturday May 15 and practice will be shown online all day, every day up until qualifying. That way, our days will be about as productive as our nights in May.

Most of my daily posts this month will be of a personal nature. I attended my first Indianapolis 500 in 1965 at the ripe old age of six, but my memories of that day are somehow just as vivid as if it happened last week. I am one of the few people my age that can say they saw roadsters and Novi’s compete at Indianapolis. Since that first experience at Indy, I have attended roughly half of the races run since then – although I had a stretch from 1973 through 1991, where I did not attend at all. Then I returned in 1992 and have not missed the race since 2002.

I’ll be sharing my impressions, my experiences and my preferences about all sorts of things; but everything I write this month will pertain to the Indianapolis 500. This is why I follow this sport. I tend to drive everyone I know absolutely crazy during the Month of May. I fully enjoy the other sixteen races on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, but they pale in comparison for what this event does for me. When Opening Day at the track comes on May 15, it’s like Christmas Eve for two solid weeks to me. The anticipation, the excitement and all the storylines that appear along the way make the Month of May something truly unique.

So join me on a daily basis this month, here at Oilpressure.com. Feel free to chime in on the comments section to share any Indy memories that you have. It should be a great month.

George Phillips

14 Responses to “Welcome To The Month Of May”

  1. Stephen_P83 Says:

    So George, it doesn’t take a genious to figure out you’re pretty old school when it comes to the 500. You’ve been around the sport for a few years more than me (that may be a slight understatement), and you were probably at the race in ’93 when Emerson Fittipald chose to drink some OJ after the race. Do you still have a deep hatred of him for that or does that not bother you? Your personal opinion please.

    • while you’re waiting on the real guy to answer, stephen…it may seem insignificant but man–I remember being shocked at the time. It was like the Kentucky Derby winner getting a wreath of silver mylar balloons instead of roses.

      still liked Emmo but it was a bit of a slap in the face to tradition.

    • Oilpressure Says:


      You’re right. I do have an opinion. Here is what I wrote last May about the topic, back when no one was reading this site…


      • Emerson eventually drank the ceremonial bottle of milk… there is even photos to PROVE it yet narrow minded Hoosiers still HATE Fittipaldi ❓ REALLY ❓

        Emerson was extremely fan friendly… the 1st time I met him was at a rain delay @ MIS in 1986. My friend fumbled with the camera, yet Fittipaldi joked with us as his three kids fussed. Hardly the stereotype of a snobby F1 driver 💡 I understand the Indy traditionalists “outrage” over the OJ… but I say get over it & judge the man (+ what he gave the sport…) over a whole career. NOT for bypassing a PR stunt with one of his own.

    • George is not a narrow-minded Hoosier. George is a Volunteer. Not sure how narrow-minded he is, but he’s certainly an admitted traditionalist. I–however–am a narrow-minded Hoosier.

      Just picture an F1 champion turning down the champange shower and insisting on shaking up a can of Coke. Or a Napa Valley Reisling.

      • Leigh O'Gorman Says:

        You realise of course that champagne isn’t sprayed at all the F1 races, right?

      • @redd: Wasn’t implying George was a narrow-minded Hoosier… as I thought we all knew he was from Tennessee 😉

        Seriously, I was referencing the people George said were booing Fittipaldi … 15 years past the OJ deal 😯

  2. Jack in NC Says:

    George, I too remember the roadsters and the Novi’s, the turbine cars of the late ’60’s and the sudden dominance of the turbo Offy. I must admit I miss the wild mixes of engines and chassis of those years. Now the race is more like watching a one-design sailboat race, where all boats are the same. I understand the economic reasons behind this, but I miss the unpredictability of a race where a dominant car can lose after leading the entire race only to have a $6 bearing fail in the final laps. It used to be that half the field was removed by mechanical failures. Now about the only unpredictability is how many yellow flags there will be, and how to manage fuel strategy based on the yellow flags. But it is still racing, and therefore fascinating.

  3. JohnMc Says:

    My mother was in attendance in 1955 while she was carrying me and my twin brother, so I go back a bit. As for the month of May and the traditions I love it and I enjoyed seeing the cars change so much during the 60’s. Being around the track throughout the month and seeing Andy Granatelli wearing his suit of STP logos while his crew was wheeling out Silent Sam for a practice run was awesome. My favorite car as a youngster was Jim Clark’s ’65 winner. As for Emmo turning down the milk, shame on him. He could have also drank the OJ, but the Milk is what the winner receives like his ring and face on the Borg-Warner which he didn’t turn down.

    • Emerson did eventually drink the milk John… he just didn’t do it on TV live (as scheduled?)

      • JohnMc Says:

        Thanks AZZ045, I know it, but he made a big deal out of the OJ. As for Emmo, I like him and always have. His not taking the milk when offered in Victory Lane was disappointing to me, yes, but I thought it was a heck of a race and he has been great for the sport.

  4. Ryan Johnson Says:

    I attended my first 500 mile race in 1999. Back then I was an Earnhardt fan and pleaded for my dad to get tickets to the Brickyard, but he got Indy 500 tickets. I was disappointed, but it ended up being one of the greatest moves my dad has ever made. My love and passion for the race started almost immediately, but I didn’t relaize my fascination until I returned in 2000. When I heard Tom’s Carnegie’s voice I stopped in my tracks and asked whose voice that was. That began my love for Tom. Since 1999 I’ve attended every race but 2005, where watching that race on television may have been the single greatest disappointment for me. When the race went green I had tears in my eyes because it tore me up so bad not being there. I still get emotional during Reverend Daniel Buechlein’s invocation and the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Like Al Unser Jr said in 1992 “You just don’t know what Indy means.” For all those that laugh at my love for the race, they just don’t know what Indy means to me. It’s not just a race, it’s a way of life. For it says in the bible not to worship anything more than God, and this remains true with me. I will never worship Indy more than God, but I’m thankful everyday that he allowed me to fall in love with Indy like I have. George, I hope to see you at the track sometime this month. God Bless!

  5. I would love to meet the guy who voted for Watkins Glen over Indy. I’ll admit, I’m more of a RC kind of guy myself…. but DAMN, this is the Indianapolis 500 we are talkin’ about here !!!


    Even I would take INDY over the Glen.

    • Stephen_P83 Says:

      I agree. I don’t really care for oval racing and I don’t have any special connection to IMS, but I do get into this race. I respect the history and traditions of it all. Perhaps only getting interested in racing later in life (road racing at that) hasn’t created that link to this race a lot of Indycar fans feel. Like I said though, I still enjoy all the spectacle and lead up to the thing.

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