Last year I decided to attend the Victory Banquet. It is something I have always wanted to do and the time was right. I knew after five minutes 2018 would not be my one and only Banquet. The best thing about it is that it delays the post race blues for another day.
This year my good friends Frank and Nola Proctor joined me for the first time. Marty was planning to go, but had to change her plans at the last minute. The Proctors were awestruck. They loved the proximity to the drivers.
This year featured tributes to Mari Hulman George and Mario Andretti on the 50th anniversary of his 500 win. A. J. Foyt gave a touching tribute Mrs. George.
There were humorous moments. Conor Daly pretty much did a stand up comedy routine. Colton Herta said His $351, 000 prize would allow him to move out his parents’ basement. James Hinchcliffe warned him that since Herta lives in California, that wasn’t enough money to move.
The evening’s most awkward moment of the night occurred when Helio Castroneves seemed to be pleading for Roger Penske to let him drive in next year’s race. I thought he had a three year agreement for the 500. Penske did not seem to be smiling. The room got eerily quiet. while Castroneves spoke.
Santino Ferrucci received the Rookie of the Year Award. This rookie class was so close that I thought it would come down to which rookie had the highest finish in the race. Ferrucci finished seventh. No other rookie finished any better than 22nd.
The Banquet Format Needs Work
The one thing I don’t like about the banquet is that some drivers come to the podium to speak and others, sometimes two at a time, sit in chairs and have a late night talk show type chat with a different host. This format sets some drivers apart as being more important than others.
I especially don’t like when they talk to two drivers at once. the banquet should be a chance for each diver to talk about his day and thank his sponsors and others. The two driver portions diminish each driver’s accomplishments. We don’t learn how much prize money some of the drivers get.
Here are some photos from the banquet. Tomorrow look for my Detroit preview on Wild fire Sports. The thing I like about Detroit is that I get to incorrectly pick two winners instead of one.