Final Thoughts And Photos From The Weekend

As I’ve slightly recovered from the qualifying weekend, I thought it would be worth one last look back before moving on to other topics this week and then looking ahead to the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 this coming Sunday. I can’t begin to count how many Pole Days I’ve attended over the years, but I have only attended Bump Day twice. Both have been memorable.

The first was in 1995. I was there with my oldest brother. The two of us sat in disbelief as Marlboro Team Penske failed to make the race. The second was this past Sunday. So long as the Speedway keeps this two-day qualifying format, I’ll keep attending both days. The entire experience was incredible.

At the risk of sounding like I’m sucking up to those in charge of doling out media credentials, I was extremely impressed with the way I was treated as a blogger. I was dreading the thought of picking up credentials on the morning of Pole Day. I envisioned mass confusion, just trying to find a place to park at the Administrative Offices outside of turn one; much less the mob-scene I imagined in the credential office. I planned on the entire process taking no less than two hours.

Instead, I was able to pull my car right in and park. When I was directed back to the credential office, I found a smooth operation that probably took no less than ten minutes…and without a hiccup. Normally when I present any type of reservation sheet, I’m greeted with a blank stare as I’m told they’ve never heard of me. This was not the case at IMS. It could not have gone any smoother.

Once inside, I met up with Roy Hobbson of The Silent Pagoda. He was kind enough to show me around the mammoth media center. He introduced me to a few of the people in there and they could not have been nicer. Then to my surprise, I was told I had a reserved seat with my name plastered right there making me feel very official. As it turns out, the Speedway put all of the bloggers on the same row near the front of the gigantic room. To make it even easier to find, I was situated right on the end. To me, it was the best seat in the house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Press Room Oilpressure Desk Name Plate Pressdog

I was expecting the bloggers to be treated like unwanted stepchildren. Quite the contrary – everyone there seemed to go out of their way to make me feel welcomed and comfortable. The only thing that would have made this a better experience would be to actually be getting paid to do this. All in all, I could not have asked for a better experience this past weekend.

As a fan though, I was not pleased with everything I came across at the Speedway. I’m not sure if it was the economy or what, but a lot of things were lacking this year. First and foremost, I was very disappointed in this year’s souvenir program. Normally, this is one of the highlights of the first weekend at the track – to tear open a brand-new program and see what they’ve come up with for this year. What I found Saturday was a huge disappointment. This year’s edition has about sixty fewer pages than last year’s. The pages it does have are of a noticeably thinner (read: cheaper) stock of paper. The pages have the feel of a low-quality weekly periodical, rather that of an annual publication. Just glancing through, I’ve already found multiple typos. I’m known to have a few on this site, but I don’t charge people $10 a year to come here either. It seems that there are more ads and less substance. The bios on the drivers contain far less vital information, than in years past – for example, I’d like to know how many career Indy 500 starts a driver has. They used to have that – not now. Perhaps we’ve just been spoiled over the years, because this was such an excellent publication that seemed to top itself year after year. They slid back several notches with this effort. Maybe they’re already gearing up for the big anniversary for 2011. Hopefully.

Another disturbing sign was that for the first time I can remember, there was no ticket renewal/order form in the program. It’s disturbing because I’m afraid it could be a sign that when we go online to renew tickets for next year, we might be seeing a hefty price increase. It’s been a while since tickets went up and a slight increase is to be expected. But not having an order form makes me wonder if they are trying to avoid a public outcry until the day after the race – when tickets for next year go on sale.

The amount of merchandise available was a disappointment as well. I’ve said before that the trend toward “Dri-Fit” polo shirts is disturbing. Dri-Fit is nothing but a more palatable term than 100% polyester, which was a material we used to joke about in the eighties. Now the apparel manufacturers are trying to convince the gullible public that this is a fabric that is scientifically developed and is oh-so chic. It still doesn’t breathe and it clings to every lump and bump on your body. A middle-aged male like myself has too many features that shouldn’t be accentuated. The 100% cotton polo is now a thing of the past in the gift shops, and for the second year in a row – I left the track without buying one. They are obviously catering to a younger crowd with their merchandise, but they shouldn’t be giving up on my age group. Generally, it’s my demographic that has more disposable income. If they were selling some tasteful cotton polo’s, I would have bought at least one or two. Instead, I bought a program and a coffee cup.

Those were about the only negatives that stood out this weekend. There was still the chance to rub elbows with drivers. My blogging partner-in-crime for the weekend, Susan Scruggs, got to engage in her favorite past time – people watching. While I was in the media center, she set out to take some pictures of some of the typical sights of a day at the track…




I later joined her in the upper-deck of Stand A, which is across the track from my seats behind the pits in the Pit Road Terrace. For such pricey seats, you would think the ladies restroom would have at least been on par with those you find in the infield. Maybe not.


We ended up sitting in the lower paddock area for the shoot-out qualifying, which began at 4:30. I took my seat armed with a beer and a tenderloin sandwich. As I inhaled both, I wondered how life could get any better. Then, the “other people” sat down. Surrounded by hairy backs, multiple tattoos and late-afternoon B.O., which could have been classified as terminal – our day suddenly took a slight turn for the worse. But instead of complaining – I looked around, found an empty section and we promptly relocated. Life became good again, and stayed that way.

I was actually caught on camera doing a short blog post from the stands on the i-Phone. After being the official photographer for the day, Susan suddenly decided she needed proof that she was there. She has gone unrecognized for a lot of the work she does on this site, so I obliged and took her picture. Unbeknownst to her, I’ve decided to post it here so that everyone can see she was here. And it will be accompanied with overdue thanks for the previously unacknowledged work she has done on this site.


I’ve mentioned how much I like this new qualifying format. Not only was it compelling, but cramming it into two days allows out of town fans like myself the opportunity to attend all of qualifying for a one-night hotel bill. I think the top-nine shoot-out could stand some tweaking next year, but overall – I liked it. And that comes from a die-hard traditionalist that doesn’t like change. But that was qualifying – now we’re approaching Race Day, where changes should be held to a minimum if at all.

George Phillips

15 Responses to “Final Thoughts And Photos From The Weekend”

  1. Leigh O'Gorman Says:

    I would like to add one more option to the pole which is “watching on” Props to the IndyCarNation crew – the quality of the site this weekend was absolutely fantastic. For those of us with no access to both qualifying days (it’s not shown in Europe), it was quite brilliant.

    The only drawback was a late family function meant I missed the final 90 minutes of Bump Day, but I got a slight gist of the action from the Indycar You Tube page. Not only do I think Pole Day was a step up from previous years, but I think the 2010 Indy 500 has possibly one of its strongest fields in a very long time.
    Can’t wait for Sunday evening to sit down for the race…

  2. Rick Austin Says:

    That Danica poster modification is priceless!

  3. The Michael Fux (pronounced Fooks) is a very well known Philanthropist in Florida who donates to children’s charities because he loves children so much he acyually has a special wing at the Miami Hospital that is bearing his name, Mr Fux also has very expensive high-end Festivals of SPEED where he uses his very expensive automobiles for charity events. In 2007 Mr. Fux started a “Fallen Officers Charity.”
    My comment to the Michael Fux Foundation is if he loves children sooo much he should advocate fror “Graduated Drivers Lisencing ” because he knows that kids and speed really don’t mix well. Apparently Mr. Fux invented something like the foam material in the tempurpedic bed system. As far as I can tell he is King of Speed who also likes children-Eccentric?

    • IndyGrrl Says:

      What, did you Google that Mars? Well he may be a well-know philanthropist, but I guess he wants his name out there too–it is an unfortunate name to be associated with a children’s charity. To me, a true philanthropist does not plaster their name all over the foundation–they give money without wanting big recognition. I’m sure we weren’t (and will never be) the only ones snickering behind our hands at this one. The only one worse would have been the Michael Jackson Foundation because we know how much he loved children.

      • indygrrl Says:

        I must add a disclaimer to the “real philanthropists do not plaster their names all over” statement. NATIONALLY known philanthropists use their name on the foundation (Gates, Oprah, etc.) because people have heard of them and people give more because of the name. Yes Mr. Fux is a local guy, but who outside of Florida has heard of him? But I’m sure AA is glad for the support anyway, maybe he does have a thing about too fast cars, as witnessed by the poor performances of the AA cars. Maybe he invented a device that slows them down.

        As to giving money for Graduated Drivers Licensing thing, maybe he loves children, but not teens (teens are pretty darn hard to love sometimes…)

    • indygrrl Says:

      And also Fux is an unfortunate name for anyone who invented anything to do with bed systems…

  4. Brian McKay Says:

    Thanks for the post including photos (flooded restroom surprising). Nice follow-up to the podcast that I listened to last night.

  5. This was a TRAP!!! A TRAP, I SAY!! Let’s rewind the film, shall we?

    * * *

    George: “Want to have a beer?”

    Me: “I suppose.”

    George: “Let’s take a picture.”

    Me: “Sure.”

    Susan: “Here, hold my beer while I get my camera.”

    Me: “Umm, okay. You sure you don’t just want to set it down on the — ”

    Susan: [click click click click click]

    George: “Look at you. You’re such a lush.”

    * * *

    You sneaky bastard. Vengeance will be mine, old man. MINE!!!

    • I think the real question is why didn’t Hobbson have eight or more beers on his person when the picture was taken? Was that picture taken before 5:00 AM? Is he saving hmeslf for a mega-Carb Day bender? Does Bud not mix well with peyote? Inquiring minds…

      • indygrrl Says:

        I think the IndyCar 6 pack tube slung around his back didn’t show in the photo…That was one of my favorite items in the gift shop.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    No excuse for the program not mention the previous Indy starts of the drivers.

    While I’ve long complained about Texas Motor Speedway’s programs lacking a good spotter’s guide, I do appreciate that they’ve long included statistics on drivers’ previous performance at the track. They list each start with starting position (or DNQ), finishing position, and laps led for IndyCar and Winston Cup driver alike. This should be standard fare in any race program from a track where the series has a long history (and it doesn’t get much longer than IndyCars at Indy…).

    As long as TMS continues doing this, I’ll keep my complaints about driver pages containing 10-inch pictures of drivers from the torso up and small, odd-angled pictures of the cars to a minimum.

    The Fast 9 qualifying format was enjoyable, though it would have been more exciting had Helio not been able to stand on that first run.
    Still, as much fun as it was watching Chip Ganassi force the television networks to use a 7-second delay for his future appearances on camera, I’d have preferred that drivers have to withdraw their previous times to get in line during the Fast 9.

    • Brian McKay Says:

      Wait..a..minute… does that iPhone photo series suggest that Bruno used his autograph Sharpie on Whanica’s hero card b4 he went out to qualify?!

    • Bent Wickerbill Says:

      “I’d have preferred that drivers have to withdraw their previous times to get in line during the Fast 9.”

      I completely agree….!!!

  7. indygrrl Says:

    I liked the format this time, I hope it stays this way. Bump Day was a definite nail-biter–glad Kanaan got in, I might have had to sell my son’s tickets otherwise.

    One of the strange things they did at the track this time that I didn’t think was an improvement, was to move the Trackside gift shop under the stands and put the Photo Shop where the gift shop used to be. I don’t get that one. For those of us in the unfortunate masses who do not get a bit of air conditioning all day, the gift shop was a welcome reprise. Maybe the people were lingering in the Gift Shop too long, now we gotta make ’em sweat while they buy their Danica memorabilia and move them on out.

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