It’s Race Day At Pocono

Good morning from a breezy and partly cloudy Pocono Raceway. While the skies look OK now, the weather is approaching quickly. It now likely that we will be here tomorrow to either run or at least finish the ABC Supply 500. I know the Olympics take precedence, but this is what happens when you start a five-hundred mile race at 3:00 on a track with no lights. Oh well, everyone here seems resigned that we will be here an extra day. There are worse things that can happen than being “forced” to spend an extra day at a race track.

In fact, Paul and I were thinking that if today is a complete washout, we may take the opportunity to go check out the defunct Nazareth Speedway, which is about thirty or so miles from here.

I know I said I would be here earlier than this, but we’ve actually been on site since about 9:00. I’m not necessarily gloating (OK, maybe just a little), but Paul and I both got to take a pace car ride around the 2.5 mile Tricky Triangle at 9:30. Credit Paul for working the deal for us to do it, but that doesn’t mean that I was going to pass up the random chance to get the only Corvette in the field of four pace cars. The rest were Camaro’s.




Gail Truess from the IndyCar Medical Team was my driver. Gail was the same driver that took me around Fontana in 2013. She is also the pace car driver for the Mazda Road to Indy. Everyone says that Gail gives the best pace car rides of anyone. I believe it.

Paul had Larry Foyt as his driver in a Camaro. We took off in a screech with Larry and Paul right behind us. Paul said t didn’t take long for us to check out away from them in the faster Corvette. Paul said they topped 137 mph on his ride. Gail was doing 148 mph as we entered Turn Two. The biggest adventure, however, was Turn One. It seemed to keep going, and going, and going. My instinct was to tell her to slow down, because it felt like there was no way for the car to keep sticking. But it did. Then we drifted out to the outside wall on the exit of the turn and seemed to miss it by only an inch.

When we went into Turn Three, I watched the speedometer. The slowest we got at the apex was 102 mph. Needless to say, it was an exhilarating way to start the day.

After we were done, Paul and I wandered over to the vintage car exhibit. They have taken the track a coupe of times and are scheduled to “race” before the IndyCar race. I was immediately drawn to a replica of the Parnelli Jones 1963 Indianapolis 500 winning car, nicknamed Ol’ Calhoun. We started talking to the guy that owned and built it. When he found we were two nerds that really got into the roadsters, he let us sit in the car. What an experience! Even though it was a replica, it was to the exact dimensions. My knees were up against the instrument panel and it felt very awkward. How those men drove those cars for five-hundred miles is beyond me.


To be honest, this vintage exhibition was possibly even more impressive than what they have at Indianapolis on Race Weekend. Just to the right of the Ol’ Calhoun replica, was a replica of AJ Foyt’s 1964 winner. And yes, that is THE Dick Simon sitting behind the wheel. He seemed just as energetic and enthusiastic as he was as an IndyCar owner in the seventies, eighties and nineties. Simon will turn eighty-three next month, but you’d never know it. He seemed like he was probably in better shape than me.


So needless to say, it’s been a busy morning. But now starts the wait. It’s not the wait for the green flag, but the wait to see when it will start raining. Since I’ve been typing, the skies have gotten darker and the radar does not look promising. I keep hoping we can get this in today, but I’m not optimistic.

Follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog for any scheduling updates and of course, random photos from the day. And please, check back here later today.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “It’s Race Day At Pocono”

  1. Gail has driven me about 5 times on pace car rides. She is definitely the best.

  2. Mark Wick Says:

    It’s good to see you are having a good time George.
    Dick Simon was at the top of the list of my favorite people during my time covering the 500. One of the stories I tell often is about an interaction with him and Rolla Vollstedt after a crash when Simon was driving the #17 for Vollstedt. Another story is of Simon as an owner and his appreciation for the still photographers and our contribution to creating interest in Indy style racing.
    The day before the 500 back when the old garages were still being used, I had the opportunity to sit in the real Old Calhoun and I also found it very uncomfortable. My knees were jammed up behind the steering wheel and I doubt I would have been able to drive it, even for a short distance at slow speed.
    This should be an interesting race, whenever it runs.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    What miserable luck Pocono has had this year. Both NASCAR Cup races had to be completed on Monday and now the Indycar race looks like it will have to finish then as well.

    The vintage exhibition looks fantastic. That was easily my favorite non-race part of this year’s 500 race weekend.

  4. Cowabunga! What a highlight for your race weekend!!! I am jealous.

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