Big Machine Sponsors August Road Race at IMS

From Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday :

BIG MACHINE VODKA SPIKED COOLERS NAMED TITLE SPONSOR OF NTT INDYCAR SERIES ROAD RACE AUG. 14 AT IMS

June 04, 2021 | By Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Big Machine brand is increasing its already substantial involvement with INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway as its refreshing new adult vodka juice pouches, Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers, will become the title sponsor of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday, Aug. 14 on the IMS road course.

“Big Machine’s enthusiasm for IMS, INDYCAR and motorsports is incredible,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Scott Borchetta and his team have been such engaged, dynamic partners over the last decade, and this title sponsorship of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES road race during Brickyard Weekend takes that to a new level. We’re so grateful for our loyal friends at Big Machine, and their support will help us to elevate this exciting triple-header race weekend even higher.”

The Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix will take center stage Saturday on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit at IMS, featuring the talented driver lineup and ultra-competitive, wheel-to-wheel action of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. It’s one of three major events that weekend on the road course, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series also will compete Saturday and the NASCAR Cup Series will race on the IMS road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Big Machine is celebrating 10 years as an IMS sponsor, and we’re so proud to announce this new, multi-year agreement highlighting our incredible new Spiked Coolers,” said the all-things Big Machine CEO, Scott Borchetta. “There is no other track in the world like IMS and, as the recent Indy 500 highlighted, it never disappoints. This is going to be a fantastic weekend of racing that fans will not want to miss.”

Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers are the latest in Big Machine Distillery’s long line of high-quality products and are available in three delicious flavors – Tropical, Lemonade and Cranberry. The ready-to-drink adult vodka juice cocktails come in eco-friendly pouches with straws included, making them the perfect drink for the pool, lake or racetrack. Spiked Coolers are currently available in multiple states, including Indiana and Tennessee. A more complete list of locations can be found at spikedcoolers.com.

This multiyear partnership also includes designation of Big Machine Vodka, “The Smoothest Tasting Vodka, Period!”, as the Official Vodka of the Brickyard Weekend, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis 500, and Big Machine Hand Sanitizer as the Official Hand Sanitizer of the Brickyard Weekend, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indianapolis 500.

Big Machine has been a valued partner in a variety of IMS events for a decade with its music & entertainment, spirits and hand sanitizer divisions. In addition to its NTT INDYCAR SERIES sponsorship at IMS, Big Machine is also the title sponsor of the series’ newest spectacle, the Big Machine Music City Prix, coming up Aug. 8 on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit IMS.com for more information and for tickets to the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix and the other races during Brickyard Weekend Aug. 13-15.

Bobby Unser, Three Time 500 Champion, Dies at 87

Note: I am posting this statement from IMS now. I will have my own story up later today.

www.IMS.com Facebook             Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press ReleaseFor Immediate Release Three-Time Indianapolis 500 Winner Bobby Unser Dies at 87INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 3, 2021) – Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser, one of the most colorful, outspoken and popular drivers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” died Sunday, May 2 at his New Mexico home. He was 87. Unser won the Indianapolis 500 in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He is one of just 10 drivers to win the “500” at least three times and is a member of numerous motorsports Halls of Fame, including induction into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1990. Unser and Rick Mears are the only drivers to win the “500” in three different decades. He was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500. Bobby and his brother Al, a four-time winner, are the only brothers to win the race. Bobby Unser also was renowned and admired for his work in and out of the cockpit before his Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR driving career started and after it ended. He dominated the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb before he ever turned a lap at Indianapolis, and he was a popular INDYCAR color analyst on national telecasts in the 1980s and 1990s after retiring as a driver. Unser was born Feb. 20, 1934 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the third of four brothers. When he was 1, his family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico – the city forever associated with the Unser family racing dynasty. In 1949, Unser started racing at Roswell (New Mexico) Speedway. In 1950, he raced at Speedway Park in Albuquerque and won his first championship in Southwestern Modified Stock Cars. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1953-55, Unser and his brothers Jerry and Al decided to pursue racing careers in United States Auto Club (USAC) competition. Bobby Unser raced successfully in USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Stock Car competition. He earned seven career USAC Sprint Car feature victories and placed third in the standings in 1965 and 1966. He also won six USAC Stock Car races and three USAC Midget features. Unser’s career in Indy cars started in the end of the 1962 season. He spent three years driving Novi-engined cars for Andy Granatelli, including the No. 6 Hotel Tropicana, Las Vegas Kurtis/Novi roadster in which he qualified 16th and finished 33rd and last as an Indianapolis 500 rookie in 1963. Unser’s day ended after completing just two laps due to an accident. In fact, Unser’s first two career Indy starts gave no indication of his future success. After completing two laps and finishing last as a rookie in 1963, he completed just one lap in 1964 and was credited with 32nd place in the four-wheel-drive No. 9 Studebaker-STP Ferguson/Novi fielded by Granatelli, getting caught in the multi-car accident that claimed the lives of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs. Unser earned his first career top-10 finish at Indy by placing eighth after starting 28th in 1966 for Gordon van Liew’s team. In 1967, he moved to Bob Wilke’s Leader Card team for a four-year stint, which resulted in even greater fortune at Indianapolis and on the USAC Championship Trail. Unser earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory in 1968 in the No. 3 Rislone Eagle/Offy, one of the most iconic and beautiful rear-engine cars in Indianapolis 500 history. His first spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy came after a spirited duel with Joe Leonard in one of Granatelli’s famous STP Lotus cars powered by a Pratt & Whitney helicopter turbine engine. Unser led 118 of the first 191 laps but was running second to Leonard when Leonard’s fuel shaft broke on Lap 192, with Unser powering past for his first “500” victory. Later that year, Unser won the first of his two USAC National Championships, ending the season with five victories and edging Mario Andretti by a scant 11 points. In 1972, Unser earned the first of his two Indianapolis 500 poles during his successful five-year partnership with Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. Speeds skyrocketed that year with the legalization of bolt-on wings to chassis, and no one took better advantage than Unser. His four-lap record qualifying average speed of 195.940 mph in the No. 6 Olsonite Eagle was more than 17 mph faster than Peter Revson’s pole speed from the previous year – the largest year-to-year increase in “500” history. Unser won his second and final USAC National Championship in 1974 after finishing runner-up to Johnny Rutherford in the Indy 500. In 1975, Unser won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time, driving the No. 48 Jorgensen Eagle fielded by Gurney’s team. Unser led only 11 laps, taking the top spot from Rutherford on Lap 165 and holding it until the race was ended by a downpour on Lap 174 of the 200 schedule laps. He drove for Fletcher Racing in 1976 and 1977, returning to Gurney’s All American Racers for one season in 1978. Unser joined Team Penske in 1979 for the start of a three-year stint in which he won 11 races and finished second in the CART standings in 1979 and 1980. But perhaps his most famous race during his Penske tenure was the 1981 Indianapolis 500, which he won from the pole in one of the most controversial and contentious outcomes in the event’s storied history. Unser beat Mario Andretti to the finish by 5.18 seconds in the No. 3 Norton Spirit, but USAC officials ruled Unser passed cars illegally while exiting the pit lane during a caution on Lap 149. Unser was penalized one position, with Andretti elevated to the winner. But after a lengthy protest and appeals process, Unser’s penalty was rescinded, and he was declared the winner of the race Oct. 9, 1981. That victory became the last of Unser’s storied INDYCAR career, as he skipped the 1982 CART season to serve as driver coach for Josele Garza and decided against a planned comeback in 1983 with Patrick Racing. He finished his career with 35 career INDYCAR victories and two championships among his eight top-three finishes in the season points. Unser ended his driving career as one of the greatest performers in the history of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” He produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 career “500” starts. Unser led in 10 races for a total of 440 laps, still 10th on the all-time list. Unser’s nine front-row starts included poles in 1972 and 1981. His speed in qualifying at the Speedway was exceptional, as he was one of the 12 fastest drivers in 18 of his 19 starts. Fourteen of his 19 starts came from the first three rows. While those statistics are among the greatest in Indy history, Unser produced even more eye-popping numbers at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, nicknamed “Unser Mountain” due to his family’s success in the longtime race in Colorado Springs. Unser won 13 class titles at Pikes Peak and earned “King of the Mountain” honors 10 times during his career as the fastest driver overall up the famed mountain, tops among the racing Unser family that dominated this event. Unser also had a keen engineering mind that always searched for a technical advantage over his rivals. He sometimes would call his crew chief well after midnight with an idea for chassis setup or another technical issue, and his prowess as a test driver was highly regarded because he turned every lap at the car’s limit. Every angle was pursued by Unser when it came to trying to find the edge against his foes. Team owner Jim Hall’s famous Chaparral chassis – the first Indy car with ground-effects aerodynamics underneath the car – got upside-down when Rutherford crashed in 1980 in the CART season finale at Phoenix. Unser learned of a photographer who took pictures of the closely guarded aero channels and tunnels beneath the car, and he obtained the photos, which were used in the development of Team Penske’s 1981 ground-effects chassis. After his driving career ended, Unser combined his vast racing experience and considerable skills as an outspoken raconteur to become a popular broadcaster on ABC, NBC and ESPN INDYCAR telecasts and on IMS Radio Network race broadcasts. The booth trio of play-by-play announcer Paul Page and the opinionated Unser and the erudite Sam Posey – with Unser and Posey’s styles and comments almost always contrasting and often clashing — was one of the most entertaining and popular in INDYCAR television history. Two of Unser’s proudest moments in the TV booth came when he called the finish in 1987 with play-by-play announcer Jim Lampley as his younger brother, Al Unser, earned his record-tying fourth “500” victory and again in 1992 when he and Paul Page called the race when his nephew, Al Unser Jr., won Indy for the first time in the closest “500” finish ever. Unser also was part of the ABC Sports broadcast team that won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for its coverage of the 1989 Indianapolis 500. After his TV career ended, Unser continued to visit IMS every Month of May. In 1998 and 1999, he served as driver coach and assisted with race strategy on the radio for his son Robby Unser during his two starts in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Robby finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in those two starts with his father’s help. Fans always flocked to “Uncle Bobby” to get a picture or autograph, to share their memories or to hear one of Unser’s countless colorful stories about his career and fellow racers. He also savored spending time in the Media Center swapping tales with many veteran journalists every May, as Unser was a tireless ambassador for IMS and the Indianapolis 500 until the end of his life. Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.

Paretta Autosport Gets Rocket Pro TPO Sponsorship; Some Notes of Fan Interest

Paretta Autosport, the all female team which began last July as part of Indycar’s Race for Equality and Change, today announced Rocket Pro TPO as the main sponsor for their one off Indianapolis 500 entry. 500 veteran Simona De Silvestro will drive the car. The team is expected to participate in the open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 8 and 9.

“Having Rocket Pro TPO come onboard as our primary sponsor for this year’s Indy 500 is a perfect partnership,” said Beth Paretta, CEO/team principal of Paretta Autosport. “We are both huge proponents of highlighting the power of women, while also using technology and speed to be the best at what we do. I cannot wait for what we will be able to accomplish as a team – both on and off the track.”

Rocket Pro is a division of Rocket Mortgage. The press release also noted,

“Together, Rocket Pro TPO, Paretta and De Silvestro will partner on the ‘Rocket Accelerator’ multimedia campaign. The group will use unique and innovative ways to amplify women in the mortgage lending and racing spaces by showcasing female leaders who are thriving in these industries.”

Paretta Autosport has a technical partnership with Team Penske.

Notes

Single day tickets for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg went on sale today.

Fans will be allowed to view next week’s open test at IMS from the turn 2 mounds.

The Road to Indy has Spring Training at barber motorsports today. Good news for the return of Indy Lights- 13 cars are entered for the tes.

Chris Griffis Memorial Test Returns to IMS, Includes Indycar Test

Photo from Indy Lights Twitter page

A news release from Indy lights. I’m happy to see these test days return.

PALMETTO, Fla. – Andersen Promotions today announced that the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test will return to the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021. A fixture on the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires calendar, the 10th annual event is scheduled for October 30-31 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course.

Named in memory of Chris Griffis, the former team manager of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports who passed away suddenly in September 2011, the cornerstone of the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test is to provide new drivers with the opportunity to sample the Road to Indy while offering returning drivers the chance to hone their programs for the following year. More than ever the 2021 test will provide several drivers with the opportunity to experience the next rungs on the highly acclaimed driver development program as part of the 2020 and 2021 series prize packages.

Indy Lights, which spent 2020 on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returns with a stronger-than-ever champion’s scholarship award of $1,289,425 to guarantee entry into at least three NTT INDYCAR SERIES events for 2022 including the Indianapolis 500. As an additional performance incentive, three NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams will provide each of the top-three finishers their first taste of an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car. That one-day NTT INDYCAR SERIES test outing is scheduled for October 29 the day prior to the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test.

“The ‘scouting combine’ experience, similar to other sports, will be an incredible opportunity for their great work and achievement from the 2021 season,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “From the engineer meetings to the test session on the track to the team debrief afterwards, it’ll run the gamut. A ‘let’s see where you are’ type of test with NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams participating and observing.”

As announced in June of this year with the likelihood of a Chris Griffis Memorial Test not feasible in 2020, the reigning champions in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – Sting Ray Robb and Christian Rasmussen, respectively – will be provided with next level tests at the conclusion of their 2021 campaigns. Robb will be awarded an NTT INDYCAR SERIES test and Rasmussen an Indy Lights test to be held during the three-day event.

The value of the champions’ scholarships for Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 have also increased to $718,065 and $401,305 respectively, guaranteeing the 2021 champions advancement to the next step on the ladder. The prize package will now also include an Indy Lights one-day test provided by the series for the Indy Pro 2000 champion and a one-day test for the USF2000 champion in Indy Pro 2000.

“As competitors continue to evaluate their plans for next season, we want to emphasize our commitment to assisting drivers in climbing our Road to Indy ladder to reach the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “We are extremely excited to work with INDYCAR to offer our top-three Indy Lights drivers an opportunity to test an Indy car, and to offer our reigning champions and 2021 champions in the junior series a chance to take the next step in their careers.

“The Chris Griffis test has always been one of my favorites. While it is exciting to see the new talent coming into our paddock, it is also especially rewarding to watch our current drivers move up and to hear their comments after first outings in the next level car.

“I also want to thank the Speedway for working with us to accommodate this event in a very busy month of October for them.”

Laguna Seca Drops Off Schedule;Double Headers Added to Compensate

Laguna Seca dropped off the Indycar schedule today, meaning no west coast races for the NTT Indycar Series in 2020. the follow is from Indycar with the latest revised schedule. I think we are the oint in the season where any further races that are cancelled will not be made up.

INDYCAR Announces 2020 Series
Schedule Update

14-Race Calendar Highlighted by Additional Doubleheaders

INDIANAPOLIS (July 27, 2020) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES released an updated 2020 race calendar today featuring several modifications.

Three events already scheduled on the series calendar will now become doubleheader weekends, including INDYCAR’s upcoming race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Prior to the originally scheduled Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, Aug. 9, the stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will square off in another championship-points paying event Saturday, Aug. 8.

In addition, the race weekends at World Wide Technology Raceway in August and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in October will become doubleheader weekends. WWTR will feature races Saturday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 30. IMS will add a road course race Friday, Oct. 2 before the already scheduled event Saturday, Oct. 3.

“Our race fans have loved the exciting doubleheader action of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year at Road America and Iowa Speedway,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We look forward to giving them even more world-class entertainment this season at three of the most exciting racetracks on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar.”

INDYCAR’s race at Portland International Raceway and doubleheader weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of both event weekends was a mutual decision between the series and promoters following close consultation and monitoring of the local situation. The series looks forward to returning to both venues in 2021.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES remains on track to run 14 races in the 2020 season. The full, updated schedule can be found at INDYCAR.com/Schedule.

Checkers for Hulman- George; Green for Penske- Some Thoughts

What has seemed surreal for the last 63 days is now real. The purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indycar, and IMS Productions is now complete. While my head has been spinning since November4, the rotations are much slower now. The sale is like losing that oldest relative you’ve known since birth. I have mixed feelings of optimism and trepidation about the Penske years ahead. There are things about both the Speedway and the series I would like to see done differently.

IMS

For the fans, better Wi-Fi, bigger and better video boards, and more and better concessions are my top priorities. I would love to get a clearer signal from my seat in G Stand and be able to view the video board without the sun causing a glare on it. I’m not a frequent purchaser of concessions at the track, partly for price, but also I don’t like the limited selection. A wider variety is needed, including some healthier choices.

I think it’s time for newer, more modern garages. The current garages are nearly 40 years old. They aren’t bad, but a touch up might be in order.

More suites are a possibility. They do enhance revenue. My concern is where to put them so that they don’t detract from the experience of the average fan. I don’t think it would be a good look for the track for it to be completely enclosed by suites and grandstands. There are some open areas between grandstands that are available.

What I don’t want to see is a ban on fans bringing coolers into the track. Roger Penske said he wanted to respect traditions of the place. This is one that would definitely hurt attendance.

Another concern I have is the track going to electronic tickets. I value my tickets from past races. I have one from every race I have attended and a few I did not attend. No, I do not have my 1911 ticket. Thanks for asking. These pieces of pasteboard are works of art. I would hate to see them discarded in favor of an image on a phone screen or a print at home generic looking paper with a bar code. Perhaps the Speedway could offer fans a choice.  I would opt for the traditional ticket. I would even pay a fee for it.

My biggest concern, though, is a possible reduction of on track time. I already think the schedule is too short. It’s barely the Fortnight of May anymore. Thank goodness for the grand prix. Without it, we have an extended weekend. Increasing the purse to make the teams’ time at IMS more worthwhile would help.

The Indycar Series

I like the new procedures that have come out in the last few days. I think they make sense. I hope Jay Frye continues to revise things to be as fair as possible to all competitors.

While the new rule about reordering the field should help shorten yellows, what would really help shorten a caution period is not giving everyone a chance to pit. Either pit or don’t. but be aware the race could go green at any time. Yellows almost seem staged at times.

I don’t want to see a guaranteed spot rule for the Indianapolis 500.  This is perhaps a topic to include in my qualifying discussion in May, but there are other ways to protect teams. First, get rid of double points. Missing the race will not be the huge points penalty it is now. Second, give full time teams that miss the race last place points minus 1 for every spot below 33rd that they qualified. Teams and drivers don’t walk away empty, even though they are not racing. Giving points for every place is another post.

Make it clear to fans at what point on the track the race begins. Many times it looks as if the drivers begin racing too soon. I think fans aren’t aware of the start zone. Just make sure there is good field alignment when the front row reaches that area.

 

This is an exciting time for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT Indycar Series, and the Indianapolis 500. I wish Roger Penske the best as he begins stewardship of these entities. Fans will like some changes and not like others. Like anything new, we must wait and see what develops.

INDYCAR, IMS Tap Schafer Condon Carter to Create National Brand Campaigns

Press release from Indycar this morning

10/10/2019

Chicago Cubs and Indiana Pacers among Clients of Award-Winning Chicago-Based Agency

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 – INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have named Chicago-based Schafer Condon Carter (SCC) as their comprehensive creative agency of record, charged with developing aligned national promotional campaigns surrounding the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

SCC, founded in 1989, creates award-winning campaigns and strategies for a diverse, impressive range of local, regional and national clients in sports and consumer products, including the Chicago Cubs, Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, Procter & Gamble, Danone, Portillo’s restaurants and more.

The first campaigns of the multiyear partnership will be unveiled before the start of the 2020 racing season.

“SCC is the right choice to help the INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 brands gain an even greater national profile and continue their trend of year-over-year growth in media consumption and ticket sales,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent company of INDYCAR and IMS. “SCC’s outstanding work speaks for itself, with its creativity and energy earning many national awards, recognition and success for all kinds of clients. We believe they can help us more effectively and aggressively position the NTT IndyCar Series, our teams and drivers and all of our world class sporting events at IMS.”

SCC will work to elevate the brands and accelerate the momentum of the NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, closely aligning the synergies and strategies between the world’s most competitive racing series and the world’s largest single-day sporting event.

One particularly recognizable campaign SCC executed for the Chicago Cubs is the “Fly the W” campaign that was a hallmark of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 world championship season.

“We are extremely honored to have been selected by INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to become their strategic and creative partner,” said David Selby, CEO of SCC.  “The opportunity to help steward and grow the iconic INDYCAR and Indianapolis 500 brands is exceptional.  They are unique in the world of sport, and among an elite group of brands with such rich history and legacy.  All of us at SCC look forward to playing a critical role in elevating their positioning and driving deeper fan engagement with the NTT IndyCar Series, the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and all of the exceptional events and experiences at IMS.”

SCC is an independent creative and technology agency that connects humans and brands through insight-fueled experiences. A simple mission drives SCC’s entrepreneurial, people-first, results-obsessed culture – We work for humans. SCC’s work is based on deep human insights and an understanding of the communities and cultures within which brands compete.

SCC’s integrated practices include SCCdigital, SCCprism, SCCdesign, SCCmedia, and MAKE247 content studio. The company also operates a private equity portfolio, SCCventures, with holdings in the food and tech sectors. SCC is privileged to work with outstanding partners that include Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, The Chicago Cubs, Ideal Industries, Portillo’s Restaurants, Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market and Solo Cup.

The independent agency is a fully integrated shop employing over 120 creative, energetic, passionate professionals based in the eclectic West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. To learn more about SCC, visit www.schafercondoncarter.com.

 

Rapid Response-Transforming Indycar Safety

This is not a film for the squeamish. The film clips of some of the worst accidents in the last 65 years or so are still frightening to see. I have seen most of these clips before, sadly some in person, and I still felt ill watching them. They do serve a purpose, however.

Rapid Response presents the story of two doctors who become immersed in racing somewhat by chance, and how they transform the safety of Indycar racing not only at the Indianapolis Motor speedway, bu throughout the entire Indycar circuit.

I identified with Dr. Steve Olvey in the first ten minutes of the film.  We share the same first driving hero. He said his first favorite driver was Bill Vukovich. He was at the 1955 when Vukovich was killed. He said he picked another favorite driver. That driver soon suffered a similar fate, as did the one he picked after that. Such was the life of a race fan in the early 50’s and 60’s. One in seven drivers died across all motorsport in this era.

Olvey’s father talked him out of a racing career and convinced him to go to medical school. He jumps at the chance to be on the medical staff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May.  Under the tutelage of Dr. Tom Hanna, Olvey begins to see ways to improve the speedway’s medical procedures.

Booby Unser, Al Unser, and Parnelli Jones share stories of some of their injuries, including how they lied about their condition so that they could continue driving. All three admit to probably driving with a concussion at some point.

When the Indycar sanctioning body goes to a track, they arrange for local volunteers and doctors to be on hand in case of an emergency or serious injury. Olvey decides it is better to have the same medical staff at all the tracks fror a couple of reasons.  First, they know the drivers, and second, the drivers seem comforted to see a familiar face after an accident. He also adds the mandatory presence of a medical helicopter at the track.

While Olvey combines his medical practice with his love of racing, Dr. Terry Trammel becomes involved almost by accident. In his first year on staff at Methodist Hospital, he was on duty when Danny Ongais is brought in from the track after his horrific crash in the race. After a three and a half hour surgery, Trammel is able to save Ongais’s foot from amputation.

Trammel later converts his home basement into a physical therapy center. Drivers stay at his home to rehabilitate. Tony Kanaan, a guest on more than one occasion, refers to the basemnent as “the dungeon.”

The doctors work together gathering data on all the foot and leg injuries common at the time. Through extensive research and with the use of of computer models, Olvey and Trammel determine  the nose of the car needs to be lengthened for the drivers’ protection.

The HANS device comes into use after Gonzalo Rodriguez’s fatal accident at Laguna Seca. The earliest device is too big to work in an Indycar. After coming up with a workable model, the HANS device is soon mandatory.

I learned a lot from this film. I had never really thought about how all the safety devices and procedures we take for granted today came into being. I am old to remember when none of the current safety measures were in place. The history in the film is just as important as the story it tells.

The film has some great classic footage from the Indianapolis 500 in the early 1950’s. Not all of it is crashes. Rapid Response is currently being shown in limited release in 10 states and Ontario, Canada. If it is in your area, I recommend seeing it.