View Full Version : Indy 2012

04-12-2012, 02:26 PM
Inspired by Pikes Peak thread, I decided to kill some sprare time and share few pics from my trip to this year's Indy which I published already some time ago in my "home" forum. Anyway, here it goes.

I have wanted to do this trip for a long time, to get first hand experience with oval racing and witness one of the great races. Two of my friends who are also big motosport fans joined me and off we took from Helsinki in one morning and after dead boring flight landed in Chicago. We were looking after oldschool rwd american sedan, but best we managed was V6 Chrysler 300C. Not a bad car with decent handling and reasonable fuel economy. Only gearbox was the slowest I have ever experienced. After sitting in traffic jam around Chicago for few hours we were finally on very busy 4 lane highway to Indianapolis and it was my first time to drive a car in this country. Bit of the culture shock, but I had heard beforehand about their traffic. Otherwise I would thought that 1/3 of the drivers are drunk - it didn't make any sense. But there was no problems to adopt and using right lane for overtaking we made reasonable progress.

We arrived to Indianapoils around sunset time after being on the road for 20+ hours. Although tired, instead of hotel we headed directly to Indiana State Fairgrounds for annual "Hoosier 100" (miles) dirtrack competition which was held for 70-th time this year. By the time we took our seat on grandstands, 50 laps was covered and as its one mile lap, race was exactly at mid point.


and it was just re-started after midway maintenance stop.


Not sure what are the noise regulations in States, but these monsters had V8 engines with staight headers which made gazillion dB and even earth vibrated slightly when they passed after restart. Bit eye-opener like TF dragster launch, so I was looking for earplugs in no time. These things run on methanol and exhaust fumes brought tears in our eyes or was it from pure joy ? :D


Series where these cars run is called USAC Silwer Crown. Very basic chassis and archaic suspension, no gearbox, no clutch, direct drive, claustrofobic cabin and bus steering wheel. In emergency or when it is needed to stop, driver can disengage the drive. To get moving they need push start. But its difficult to argue with 355 cid methanol burning racing engine which makes 700 hp. in a car with 680 kg. racing weight and is shod with biggest slicks I have ever seen outside of drag strip. Must be terrifying to go side by side in this.


As far as I could understand, the key was to avoid drifting as much as possible without loosing momentum. Night was very hot, their right rear tyres overheated and then corner speed dropped. For the leader it was not so good idea to put big gap between him and second place holder, as frequent crashes and following pacecar sessions collected the cars together for several times. So during last laps current leader had lost most of the grip and was overtaken easily by another competitor who had managed to save the tyres for last laps.

Winner was second year in the row Jerry Coons, here with his crew chief and celebrating $10 000 award money he had just earned.


Racing seemed to be very physical, with lots of agressivness and contacts at fairly high speed. To see how it looks like, heres one older video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzDs4x8H9YQ

Now after about 30 hours of no sleep, we dragged ourselves out to parking lot and before leaving to hotel had a chat with old guy who had raced his oldtimer just before the main event.


Next day was the "day before" and we had lots plans. Will be continiued...

04-12-2012, 07:52 PM
Something different, I like it. :thumb:
Interesting read and good pics, looking forward to seeing more.

05-12-2012, 02:14 PM
Our second day started with what they call "Carb day" which include lots of activities at speedway. No racing, qualy has been held several days before. But shows, swap meets, concerts.

Late in the morning we arrive at their museum building and it was just opening. Glad we decided to enter there immideatly, because an hour later it was madness.


Right near the entrance were these two cars.


On the left is the winner of first ever race in 1911, Marmon Wasp. It was very developed racecar at this time with its aerodynamic body, while competitors looked like this:


In addition Marmon was the first racing car known, which used rear view mirror instead of taking passenger who was observing the traffic. It was viewed very risky decision at this time, other competitors wanted them to be banned because of danger.

And car on the right is Dan Wheldon's winning car from 2011. Wheldon was remebered in many occasions during the weekend and right before the start 200+ k. people stood in silence for his memory.

Another significant winning car is this Lotus 38, which totally dominated in 1965 race driven by Jim Clark.


It was revolutionary design by Colin Chapman, before this car it was believed that success is only about horsepower and reliability, so everyone used ancient front engined roadsters, like these:


But time had moved on and midengined cars dominated in F1. Lotus 38 was much bigger than contemporary F1 cars, but still small and with very good aerodynamics compared to roadsters. With its 500 hp. engine it made mincemeat of opposition, all field except 4 cars lost at least by two laps.

Drivers view of early years racing car. Whats interesting is pump on the floor. At this time no fuel pumps were used and fuel tank was pressurised by handpump which either co-driver or driver had to use time-by-time to keep fuel running into carbs. At best such cars managed 100 mph laps on old brick covered track. Must be fun !


Other interesting details I saw were early brake discs, which look like they could do the job even today:


Radical approach to aerodynamics


Which didn't work in qualy, so for race they reverted back to normal rear wing...


Another revolutinary car by Chapman, this time Lotus 56, AWD turbine engined with before unseen wedge shaped body. It almoust won in 1968, retiring only few laps before finish due to broken fuel pump. After this rules were changed, both turbine engines and AWD was banned. But wedge design was so efficent it became new standard for formula cars. One interesting fact about turbine cars was, that they had massive throttle delay, when driver let off the gas, car was still accelerating for some time, so it was neccesary to act predictively. That was interesting for sure.:)

Some cars looked real good, like one in the front and its good comparison between old shaped and new shaped bodies.


Aerodynamics was no stranger many years before that, check out the low frontal area of this '28 winning car.


Beginning of '80's was ground effect era. This '82 winner took first place with record low winning margin, only 0,16 seconds separated it from second place - probably few mm's at 200+ mph.


All these are winning cars


Fastest car ever. Rules have changed to bring speeds down, so it can keep its record probably for some time.


There were also few non-Indy cars, like this stock car driven by Richard Petty. Interior reminds me very much old Russian trucks, cant imagine doing 180 mph in it...


I have seen two land speed record cars, this and The Blue Flame in Sinsheim. In both cases I got shivers down the spine, imagining how these monsters accelerated towards their top speed on Bonneville salt. IMO they both also look very beautiful.


This is Spirit of America Sonic 1, in which Craig Breedlove fighted for world record with Art Arfons and his Green Monster. They took the record from eachother sometimes with intervals of few days, Breedlove finally topping in 1965 with 600,6 mph. While Breedlove had huge sponsor budget and high level engineering support, Arfons built 576 mph Green Monster in his shed from random old parts using scrapped fighter engine from junkyard - which he tied into his apple tree for testing. For some strange reason neighbours complained about noise. Sure, both are heros of their sport !

And finally something for bike fans, twin engined HD - world record 255 mph in 1970.


Would be probably piece of cake for those who nowadays go fast during TF.

Thats all for today, next photos sometimes later.

Neil Mac
05-12-2012, 04:48 PM
Great report, and you haven't even got to the race yet! :thumb:

I'd really like to go there sometime. A roadtrip is calling...

....many years from now, probably.

13-12-2012, 01:55 PM
After Hall of Fame, we walked around in infield of the Speedway.

Chevy dominated and had many new models on display. This new Grand Sport looked real good. Its Z06 with standard Vette engine.


Clarkson would make some more funny remarks about this, but I think wooden floor is cool detail:


I like cars with racing heritage


As you might know, Indycar uses one chassis and engines from Chevy or Honda. This is new car used from 2012, produced by Dallara. Its designed to avoid crashes like Dan Wheldon's 2011 fatal accident.


This is Grand-Am car, which won Daytona 24 last year and although it looks bit ugly on photos, in real life its pure business.


Day was very hot, like 34 C in shade and it was surprise to find out that they don't sell beer on every corner like Germans do. When we finally found a place it was very funny, as they have something called 100% ID policy. Everyone had to present their ID to get a beer, no exceptions. Something new for me.:) And it was not even real beer, but beer flavoured alcoholic beverage.


Trailer park is not as massive as in NS 24 h. Traditionally 33 cars take flying start in 11 rows.


One of the most succsessful teams on this continent, 15 times Indy winners. Ryan Briscoe put them on pole also this year, but finished only 5-th. I wonder, how they manage to keep these mirror surfaces so spotless ?


Currently this team dominates the series and 2012 Indy was big success as well:

Ganassi is on top also in Grand-Am

It was Honda's weekend

It must help to have that family name

Marco did drive a good race, but it ended with heavy crash during last laps, right in front of our grandstand. He was lucky to walk away IMO, it was big hit.

This is how main grandstand, suites and race control look like:

Backside of this building. Those pits are used for shops and various displays. Race pits are further infield.

Many hardcore fans were around and funny stuff, this had functioning airjack system for rapid tyrechanges.

Old racers which were used for parade laps before the race:

Must be nice warm your cheeks on cold day...

Lots of stuff

This hall was full of Indy memorabilia, nothing else

Some interesting examples


Then we went on to race pits. Doors were open and you could take as many pictures as you like, not something you can do in most European pro-racing series.

15-12-2012, 02:43 PM
This report is just getting better and better...
some glorious machinery in those photos.
Really enjoying this, keep it coming. :thumb:

18-12-2012, 08:24 PM
I did this trip myself a few years ago, we got to the track at 5am and were number one and two into the museum! The access is absolutely brilliant, F1 could learn a thing or two from these guys (instead of giving passes to the beautiful people, who know nothing about motor racing).

More pics please.

Darren Langeveld
18-12-2012, 09:21 PM

19-12-2012, 07:30 AM
What a great thread! :thumb:

19-12-2012, 02:27 PM
Its still in day before the race and by noon we managed to see everything what was worth to see at speedway and decided to look around in Indianapolis downtown.

Its not a small place with about 1 M people, but somehow it didnt feel like big city. And it was the busiest time of the year, so probably most of the time there is not much going on. But those US streets, its a random shot, not some major highway. Even Hummer would fit comfortably - small cars just don't make sense there.


Interesting business proposal. Will they kick your head, so you forget about loans ? :D


Center of the town, no traffic, no problems to find parking on the street, strange. Some signs about race, but not that much.


We decided to do something unusal and walk around. Not much to see, but statue on central square is worth a look. And what we found there:


It was their stopover point that day and soon cars started to arrive. One of the first was this guy, he is Norwegian freestyle skier. He had also R8 with skibox and both cars were on Monaco plates.


He looked like I can imagine a Gumball participant. Little strange, but I mean this positively.


What I don't get is how their event works ? Cars were full of radar detectors, radios and every kind of equimpent with only purpouse to break the law and not get caught. Still they were given parking on central square, police was attending, closing the streets and patrolling to keep order. Thet would definetly not work in most EU countries.


Cars arrived and people gathered. Most participants were sweaty fat men like me. Don't know why I was expecting rockstars and babes with big boobs ? Dissapointing really.


So we decided to leave and head to another local racetrack, where traditional "The Night Before 500" races takes place. Its Lucas Oil Raceway and it consists of drag strip, 0,7 mile oval and 2,5 mile roadcourse. Looked good, also NHRA dragraces are held here.


Tonights races took place on oval like in previous day, but this time on tarmac. Seating capacity is 30 000 people.


Parking was no problem and interestingly you can buy two types of entrance tickets. Normal ticket was $20 and its good for access to grandstands. Paying $15 extra and signing waiver, you could get access toinfield pits and also you can walk on track like team members when cars are waiting in the grid before warm-up lap. So of course we used that option. First race was for F2000 formulas.


These are monotype cars, Van Diemen chassis and 2 liter Mazda engine. Participation age is starting from 15 years, so most drivers were very young.

Rolling start and GO !


It took only few laps before first big crash happened and took out 7 cars in one hit. Commentator said that normally they run roadcourses and it was for many drivers first time to do oval race.


Looks bad, but actually one pilot was in wheelchair and racing in hand operated car. So its was just to take him back to pits.


Organisers had lots of equipment and handled the situations fast and professionally - race was not stopped.


Looked expensive for some. Thanks to our pit passes, no problem to access everything. $15 well spent.

Cars were quite loud, so display helped a lot to follow the situation on track.


After the finish, winner was interviewed and not just few sentences, but for good 10-15 minutes covering all the race.

Next start was formula "Star Mazda" and this is feeder series for Indy. Again monotype cars with Mazda rotary engines. Minimum weight 495 kg and 260 hp.


These guys were more experienced and soon white beton barriers were full of tyre marks at corner exits, as they routinely maximised exit speeds by touching it slightly with rear wheel. Best average speed for one lap were 120 mph. Race was close, but with no major incidents.


19-12-2012, 02:28 PM
It was getting dark, temperature was still around 28C when nights main event get going - USAC National Midget race. Cars were smaller than last night Silwer Crown cars and had only 300 hp. 4-cylinder Toyota engines, but thanks to 400 kg. minimum weight they were far from slow. Again, no gearbox, no clutch, direct drive. Max speed on straight 150 mph, best average speed 110+ mph.


Drivers place is cramped and metal seat takes care of safety. Glassfibre wouldn't probably last long as they have many contacts.


Engine sits low


Starting procedure is interesting, teams are not allowed to pushstart themselves, only organiser can do it. So they had 5 trucks to push about 35 participants. While all cars were started, others just drived around waiting, as there is no possibility to get going again when stopped.


Start was agressive, everybody fighting for position and with lots of noise. Pacecar was in use for several times due to crashes. Lapped cars were allowed to take their positions back. So it was wheel to wheel till last laps and winner was decided in only when exiting last corner, second place car just managed to overtake the leader. Good show and people were standing, yelling, aplauding. Fun !


It not possible to show in pictures, but here is video from 2011 race to get some of the feeling:






What I liked very much, was down to earth feeling during all evening. She was interviewing like good friend, but very professionally, covering all incidents and deciding moments.


It was midnight, when we left the track.


As it was already morning by European time, we decided to return downtown and take a look whats going on ? No photos, but on the way we passed speedway. Many people had arrived and party was at full swing. Alcohol, music and lots of bikers. Somehow we didn't feel like we would want to join, it not like N24 action. May-be we were just too sober.

Back on main square to check Gumball rides.


This was diriven by MD of Morgan.


They had a booklet with various info about the event and drivers. Each was asked question about their dream car. Unsurprisingly Veyron was clear favourite.


It was getting late and we had to get up really early next morning, in order not to be stuck in traffic jam. Race Day !