After 455 days, the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 2:30 pm this afternoon. Many will be watching live on television for the first time in Indianapolis. There are several historic events on tap today.
Of course, the the biggest thing is no fans are allowed in for the first time in history. The track has always been open to fans every day cars run, including test days. It will make for a strange atmosphere at the track and on television.
For the first time since 1955, a member of the Hulman-George family will not give the command. Roger Penske will give the command as the Speedway’s new owner. My understanding is he will begin the command with the word, “Drivers.” I disagree with that, but will reserve further comment until later this week.
For the first time three generations of one family will be on track at the same time. Mario Andretti will drive the 2 seater with Michael Andretti as his passenger. Marco Andretti starts on the pole.
1 p.m: All Cars on Grid
1:20 p.m: On the Banks of the Wabash”
1:47 p.m: Driver Introductions
2:09 p.m: Invocation – Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
2:10 p.m: Rifle Volley
2:11 p.m: Taps
2:12 p.m.: National Anthem – “Singing Surgeons” Dr. Elvis Francois & Dr. William Robinson
2:14 p.m.: First Flyover – U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
2:14 p.m.: “Drivers, To Your Cars.” – Dave Calabro
2:20 p.m.: “Back Home Again in Indiana” – Jim Cornelison
2:22 p.m.: Second Flyover – U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
2:22 p.m.: Command To Start Engines – Roger Penske
2:30 pm: Green Flag waved by Dan Towris
Of note in the schedule: a rifle volley and two flyovers by the US Air Force Thunderbirds.
This schedule of ceremonies is a nice, compact lead up to engines starting. I hope the Speedway will look to keep it this way in the future. I think the opening ceremonies have gotten way too long.
I hope for a safe, clean race. It’s only 280 days until the 105th running, which I hope fans will be allowed to attend.
The Starting Lineup: