A 36th Entry? Boles Clarifies Some Issues

Phot from Top Gun Twitter page

Top Gun Racing may be on the brink of entering the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. The second year team, with R C Enerson driving, tested the number 75 Chevy powered car at World wide technology raceway on Monday. There has been no formal announcement of an entry. There was speculation as to whether the team would get an engine lease. The car would be the 36th entry in the 500, meaning three cars will not make the race.

I hope they keep the Johnny Lightning tribute livery.

Boles Gives Some Clarity on Fan Attendance

Last night on Trackside Doug Boles answered fan questions about attending events at IMS this month. I have received a lot of questions from readers about policies. Boles addressed many of their concerns. A summary of some of the major points he covered:

The infield is open; the spectator mounds are closed. Th area behind the pagoda is open. Fans may enter the infield via one of the two tunnels underneath the the front stretch.

Proof of vaccination is not required to enter IMS, but it is required for badge holders who wish to visit the garage area, Boles did not mention a limit on the number of fans who could be in Gasoline Alley at one time.

Tickets may be purchased at the entry gates for practice and qualifying. Tickets may be purchased at a will call trailer for the GMR Grand Prix on race day.

There is no grid walk for the GP.

There is no Monday practice the day after qualifying and no pit access for Bronze Badge holders. Boles hopes to have a practice day where badge holders can have pit access in the future.

Fans may watch practice from the Tower terrace seats.

Cooler limits are the same as they have always been- 14″ x14″.

The pre race for the 500 will celebrate the life of Bobby Unser and Takuma sato will receive recognition for winning the 2020 race.

Vaccinations are available across from Gate 2 and also inside the track at first aid station at gates 1, 6, and 9.

I am anticipating a heavy news day with possibly the entry list for the 500 coming out this afternoon. I will be back later today with more up dates.

Some Words of Thanks

In as difficult a year as 2020 has been, I have a deeper appreciation of the things for which I am thankful. The pandemic changed our lives in many ways, yet we somehow figured out ways to cope. The following is a list of things for which I am thankful- not all related to racing.

First I thank everyone who has read this humble blog this year. Readership has already smashed last year’s 12 month total by nearly 50%. I appreciate each of you who has found something worthwhile here as I complete my fourth full year. Hard to believe The Pit Window will turn five in May.

Thank you to the Creative Writing Class at the Life Enrichment Center in Tampa, Florida. Without them , this blog does not exist. You all are my inspiration. I am grateful every day that I discovered this class.

Now on to the racing thank yous:

First to Roger Penske and mark Miles for somehow crafting a credible season from the myriad restrictions all the municipalities and government agency restrictions put in place this year. As always, I am so thankful that he bought the series at the end of 2019. I can’t imagine anyone else who could have weathered this season this well.

Thank you to the promoters who worked with Indycar to create a reasonable amount of races for the season.

Thanks to Jay Frye and Indycar for their tireless efforts to advance safety and to try to improve the racing.

Much thanks goes to the AMR Safety Team. Without them the races could not go on.

Thanks to NBC for working Indycar’s rescheduled races into their schedules and expanding next year’s lineup on NBC.

Thanks to Doug Boles for getting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through what had to be a frustrating and challenging time.

Thank you to those few in the Indycar media who were able to cover races in person. I know circumstances were challenging, but the coverage was seamless. I hope I can rejoin you in 2021.

Thank you to all my racing friends. Knowing yoi and spending time with you at the track is time I truly treasure. I hope at some point in 2021 we can all meet at one track again.

Finally, I am thankful that my household is well, and that my closest friends who contracted COVID have recovered.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe and well.

Race 2 Quick Thoughts-A Sense of Normalcy

Photo of Will Power by Chris Jones, Indycar

Will Power takes the pole and dominates the race. Team Penske sweeps the weekend. with two wins and two front row starts. Power and Josef Newgarden combined to lead 109 of the 160 laps. This weekend brought a sense of normalcy back. This how the IMS road course works.

A victory at St. Pete would make Power a 40 race winner. It has been more than 20 years since two 40 race winners were active in the series.

Not every race can be as great as Friday’s, and I wasn’t expecting today’s race to be that good. It is quite a feat to lead every lap in a race, especially one with such a long pit stop delta.

It was nice to see Simon Pagenaud move up to the top 10 after an awful friday. He still hasn’t figured out qualifying. Pagenaud’s struggles in qualifying have been one of the most puzzling things about this season.

Colton Herta made an impressive late charge to close in on Power. It made the last few laps interesting.

Alexander Rossi had his best weekend of the year with two podium finishes.

Jack Harvey has three top 10s and one podium in four races on the IMS road course.

Scott Dixon’s struggles continue. His lead over Newgarden is just 32 points heading to St. Pete. The Florida street course is not one of Dixon’s better tracks. He just needs to keep Newgarden in sight during the race.

I don’t know how Indycar determines race distances, but I think 5 more laps might have made the race more intriguing.

If the fans had a vote, the Harvest Grand Prix would be an annual event.

Finally, huge thanks to Roger Penske, Doug Boles, and the entire staff at IMS for their efforts to create a safe environment for fans to be to attend the races this weekend. The fans who live in Indianapolis needed this, and they will remember and appreciate this weekend for a long time.

Boles: Come Early, Have Safety Plan

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles outlined plans for Sunday’s 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 this morning.  He addressed attendance, arriving at the track Sunday, and the weather.  His message: come early.

Boles anticipated attendance to be similar to what it was in 2018. “The walkup sales could make it a bit better,” he said. He added that the walkup tickets are weather dependent.

Safety Checks at Gates

Boles encouraged everyone to arrive by 10-10:30 so that fans can be seated for the pre-race ceremonies. There will be a special ceremony honoring Mario Andretti on the 50th anniversary of his 1969 win in the 500.

If it seems as if the line is moving slowly, it is because the bag checks are to ensure everyone’s safety, Boles said. The earlier you get to the track, the faster the lines will move.

Boles encouraged fans who sit north of A stand to walk up Georgetown Road to one of the gates rather than use Gate 1.  The goal is to reduce congestion at the main gate. There will be signs directing people to Gates 5 and 6 on Georgetown as well as PA announcements and staff to help people find a less congested entry.

Parking lots will open at 5 am. Gates to the track open at 6.

Boles emphasized that Drones are not allowed.

Weather Safety

Boles encouraged fans to have a safety plan in place in the event of lightning.  Umbrellas are okay to bring to the track. The Speedway will continuously monitor the weather, but no race decisions will be made before Sunday morniung. An NWS meteorologist is on site.

The current forecast calls for a slight chance of early morning rain and then a better chance after 2pm.  The race may be declared over after 101 laps have been completed.

“We’ll start when the track is dry,” Boles said. The NTT Indycar series is unlikely to move up the start of the race.

Infield Parking Sold Out

If you do not have an infield parking pass and take 16th street to the track, stay in the far left hand lane.  The two right hand lanes will be only for pass holders to enter the Speedway.  It is always a good idea to have a parking spot reserved in advanced somewhere.

Boles said after the race there will be pedestrian traffic on Georgetown Road and the will not begin releasing cars from the lots for 45 minutes to an hour.

ADA parking is also sold out.

Other Notes

If there are weather delays, Boles thinks the latest the race could start would be around 6. He would like fans to able to leave the track before it gets dark.

Race decisions will be made by the series in consultation with the track.

The green flag is at 12:45.

Race Day Advice: Come Earlier, Hydrate Heavily

Photo: Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President (center), advises fans to come earlier Sunday to ensure getting to their seats on time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles asked fans to plan to get to the track a bit earlier than they normally do Sunday. Increased security measures, including vehicles being subject to searches, necessitate the call for an earlier arrival. The forecast calls for a high of 90 degrees Sunday.  The Speedway is asking fans to start hydrating Saturday to prevent heat illness.

The heightened security includes checking every cooler, canine units at some checkpoints, and a warming that vehicles may be searched,  Uniformed police will have a noticeable presence at the race.

To help those who get uncomfortable, the track will have five cooling buses available. In addition, all first aid stations have air conditioning, as well as the IMS Museum. 75 misting stations in various places will allow some quick relief. Sunscreen is highly recommended for Race Day.

Gates open at 6 pm EDT for entry to the track. Exterior parking lots open at 5 am. Fans must have a purchased parking sticker to drive into the track property. Boles said the Speedway has sold out, but suggested some passes may be available online.

“Cars without a valid sticker will be turned away,” Boles said.

He reviewed the rules for items not allowed:

No glass containers

No wagons

No selfie sticks.

Coolers must be no larger than 14″ x14′ x18″.

Boles urged fans to have patience entering the track and when leaving after the race. Vehicles will not be allowed to exit the track until the pedestrians are out, he said.

Buses from downtown and from the airport are available. There are pick up and drop off locations for ride services as well.

The Speedway’s goal is that everyone is safe and has fun.

For detailed information, go to indianapolismotorspeedway.com/planahead.