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Indycar 1995 WatchParty Round 6: The Indianapolis 500 (Video start Sunday 4:30pm BST, race start 5pm-ish)


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#1 Risil

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 21:18

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We made it! It’s May 1995! There is one central fact of May 1995 and that is the 1995 Indy 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t need much introduction: it’s a 2.5-mile rectangle on the outskirts of Indianapolis, or perhaps the inskirts of Indiana, consisting of four similar 90 degree corners, two long straights and two short connecting chutes, presumably so-called because if you go through one in less time than it takes to say “straight” it can’t really be a straight. The layout is simple enough but at the limits of adhesion and 220+ mph average speeds, subtle changes in track conditions or car handling can be the difference between a charge to the front or dropping through the pack. Or worse. But the main thing is that approx 350,000 people have turned up to watch, 33 very fast cars will take the start and it’s the biggest race in the world.
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But anyway. It’s race weekend and a lot of things have happened. Most of all of which is that neither of the Penskes, expensive, expertly-prepared victory lane hoggers that they are, have qualified for the big event. Despite turning up and dominating the 1994 edition with a Brixworth-built 3.4 litre near-1000hp pushrod-actuated monstrosity, and being about 30 seconds at Phoenix away from winning three 1995 rounds on the spin, the team never got its conventionally-motored PC-24s up to speed despite two full weeks of practice, two double Indy winners and generally the best of everything except luck and fate. Roger Penske tried everything – dusting off the 1994 chassis, borrowing a Reynard from Pagan Racing and a Lola from Rahal-Hogan – except buying out any of the 33 qualifiers. Al Unser, Jr never really got close to qualifying speed, but Fittipaldi felt he had the speed to make the race but in the chaos and confusion of the final practice weekend, he never put the four required laps together. I’ve got some Youtube here, if you want to spend some of your weekend perusing Ignominy Youtube.



But so much for Team Penske! All month, the practice timesheets were topped once again by those trick large-bore highly-blown pushrod V6s that USAC let race at Indy once a year as a final vestige of the old rule book that used to balance racing engines with stock blocks with diesels with turbines with etc. The loophole Penske used to sneak a purebred racing engine in under rules intended for Detroit iron was closed, but at least in qualifying trim Detroit iron was still good enough for Team Menard, whose drivers Scott Brayton and Arie Luyendyk traded record practice laps and generally left the CART regulars wheezing in their methanolic wake. The inevitable practice shunts and wrecks claimed Bryan Herta, who got a concussion but started the race, and Davey Hamilton, who broke an ankle and didn’t. Two highlights videos below. Watch them, or don’t, ahead of Sunday’s race!





Your full qualifying line-up below. It’s a fascinating mix of the very strong CART regulars, returning part-schedulers plus whatever Hideshi Matsuda is.

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Row 1: Veterans
Menard drivers Scott Brayton and Arie Luyendyk secured the first two grid slots for their Goodyear-shod Lola-Buicks. Only 36, it’s nonetheless Brayton’s fourteenth Indy 500 start, with best finishes being a pair of sixths in 1989 and 1993. Back when CART could be essentially divided into drivers with an Ilmor-Chevy motor and everyone else, Brayton was one of the quickest representatives of Everyone Else. Teammate Luyendyk won the Indy 500 in 1990 and came close to adding a second two years ago in 1993. The wily Dutchman, who early in his career raced F5000s with the likes of Peter Gethin and Teddy Pilette, is blessed with formidable oval skills and great hair and eyebrows. The Buicks don’t have a great record of being fast and functional for the whole 500 miles but there’s something about these two that seems essential to the whole Indy 500 concept. 1992 runner-up and Canadian Scott Goodyear rounds out the front row with an extra Tasman Motorsports entry. He’ll be driving the same Reynard-Honda-Firestone combo that Andre Ribeiro does with moderate distinction in the main series. How the Honda will perform over 500 miles is a big question mark but a 230mph average is a big improvement over last year when the Rahal-Hogan team dumped the motors mid-May after they failed to get up to speed.

Row 2: Favourites
Normal service is resumed on the second row, swept as it is by three of the fastest drivers on the CART circuit this year (once you discard the Penskes, at least). Michael Andretti, who has to date conspicuously failed to win the Indy 500 so far, lines up in fourth spot. 1994 runner-up Jacques Villeneuve sits in the middle of the second row and Andretti’s former teammate, Mo Gugelmin, now of PacWest, qualified sixth. All three have shown enormous speed in 1995, and could use a result to keep surprise points leader Scott Pruett in sight. Of which more in Row 3.

Row 3: Young Americans
Positions 7-9 are not a bad place to start the Indy 500. You often find drivers here who remained aloof from the pursuit of ultimate qualifying pace, and worked instead for speed over all 500 miles. Of course it would’ve been nicer to start further up but you pick your battles. Hoping to emerge from midpack by half distance are three Americans (and teams, really) with points to prove: Derrick Walker’s Robby Gordon, Pat Patrick’s Scott Pruett and Chip Ganassi’s Jimmy Vasser. None of these drivers has ever come close to winning a 500 (in fact they have one Indycar win between them) but their teams have all put cars at the sharp end of the race before. Pat Patrick’s even won a few, in another lifetime.

Row 4: ???
Now we get into the glorious quirkiness of the Indy 500 middle order. P10-12 are held by the probably-never-said-in-the-same-sentence-before trio of Panasonic scion Hiro Matsushita,
short track expert Stan Fox and Brazilian rookie and 1995’s sole Honda full-schedule guy Andre Ribeiro. Fox is the sole qualifier from Hemelgarn’s three-car effort and is driving their only 1995 chassis. Ribeiro is probably looking at his teammate on the front row and plotting furiously.

Row 5: Veterans part 2
Three names from the eighties on row 5: 1987 near-miss Roberto Guerrero, former Osella, Talbot-Ligier and Renault driver Eddie Cheever and 1983 polesitter Teo Fabi. Fabi’s car owner Gerry Forsythe had a part-share in Jacques Villeneuve’s entry in 1994, which yielded a second place. Guerrero is racing a year-old Reynard for Pagan, and Cheever, who messed up his fuel calculations and lost a win at Nazareth last time out, is racing for the indomitable, not to say inimitable, AJ Foyt.
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Row 6: Dark horses
Row 6 contains a promising rookie and two drivers who ought to be in with a shot of winning. P16 is Paul Tracy, who got above 230mph early on in the month and whose Newman-Haas teammate qualified fourth. PT has never run well at Indy, with a best finish of 20th from three starts with Team Penske. In the middle of the sixth row is Bresciano rookie Alessandro Zampedri, the ex-F3000 driver having a bright paint job but no notable results in 1995 so far. Danny Sullivan starts in the eighteenth spot and has the equipment, if not the qualifying pace. Still, the former Tyrrell driver and 1985 winner knows how to keep his wheels pointing in the right direction.

Row 7: Dark horses part 2
Down in row 7 is the last of our former winners. But first, exciting but near-pointless rookie Gil de Ferran has put his car in many good positions without converting them into results this year, but 19th on the grid isn’t one of them. The experienced but fairly nondescript Hideshi Matsuda is in the middle of the row with new team Beck Motorsports, and 1986 winner Bobby Rahal lines up 21st. He’s emerged near the front from bad starting positions before, and at any rate has avoided a third Indy qualifying debacle in a row. Go Bobby!

Row 8: Tail-enders part 1
And now… the rest! The eighth row contains Bobby Rahal’s equally experienced teammate Raul Boesel, original American Indycar Series champion (look it up! Or if you’re still reading, maybe not) Buddy Lazier and Chilean anger sponge Eliseo Salazar.

Row 9: Tail-enders part 2
P25-27 are occupied by popular Tecate beer man Adrian Fernandez for how-the-mighty-have-fallen Galles Racing, Belgian icon and Dale Coyne crony Eric Bachelart in a year-old Lola, and Walker Racing’s second Reynard-Ford, piloted by F1 refugee now CART-rookie Christian Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi was bloody fast in Miami but hasn’t been seen much since. His car is kitted out like a Brazilian flag so it’ll be easy to track his progress.

Row 10: Tail-enders part 3
The penultimate row (that’s the graveyard shift of P28-30) holds sports car racer and Indy regular Lyn St. James, the field’s second Guerrero and fourth Dick Simon entry Carlos Guerrero and Scott Sharp in a second Foyt car.
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Row 11: Penske-bane
There’s a perverse interest in the drivers who scraped into the race on the final row. Bryan Herta doesn’t belong here on pace, but (like Al Unser, Jr in 1992) starts from 33rd after he wrecked the car he qualified with. However, Bettenhausen’s Stefan Johansson (driving the field’s only Penske) and Dick Simon’s Davy Jones very much do. But they were quicker than Al Jr and Emerson Fittipaldi, so there is that.

Race video below. This is a long one so let’s get the video underway on Sunday at the traditionalish Indy 500 time of 4.30pm BST. There’s plenty of build-up but they’ll be starting engines at 38:29, or just after 5. I should say without fear of spoilers that Stan Fox had an awful, but not fatal, crash in the opening laps so if you want to join at the first restart that’s absolutely fine. That’ll be at about 56:00, or just before half 5.



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#2 paulb

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 12:17

Watching the Time Trials and race will make a perfect Saturday “activity”.

Thanks, Risil!

#3 Risil

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 12:36

You can't make the race thead on Sunday, Paul?



#4 jonpollak

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 12:58

Ahh Yes, Jp's first Indy 500 attendance.

 

Got there about 20 mins before the green flag (talk about learning from one's mistakes)

Had a garage pass but never made it there.

Took my seat in the tower suites as the flag waved.

Forgot to bring the camera.

 

Enchanted by the driver of the #27

Still am.

 

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Jp



#5 MaxScelerate

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 13:32

That was my first time actually watching (on tv) a racing event as we were helping my aunt move places and got to the unboxing and beer/pizza just in time for someone in the family to put the race on tv. That went edge-of-my-seat pretty fast, rooting for the son of the guy that figured on my 5-years-old self's favorite pajama (5-years-old self didn't fancy real racing on tv, it looked slow compared to when I'd throw an Hotwheel or Majorette at the wall!). Books, nerd-ism, had kept me away from cars and speed since then.
 
Anyway, few weeks after the race, Wired Magazine, which I subscribed to at the time, went with a Villeneuve cover and an indepth article. And while I read the article for Jacques stuff, what I got out of it was Racing stuff, Indianapolis 500 stuff, technology stuff, history stuff. JV was pretty much accessory to the article and that was totally alright, I had found geekness in car racing.
 
Anyway, it's a pretty good read (in my mind)
https://www.wired.com/1995/10/indy



#6 paulb

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 13:59

You can't make the race thead on Sunday, Paul?

Oh I will. I might have conflated todays iracing spectacle with Indy.

Anyway, two days of Indycar-ish-ness to look forward to.

#7 Viryfan

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:03

I wonder how much truth there is in the rumours that Menards cars were not legal in qualifying....



#8 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:17

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Row 11: Penske-bane
There’s a perverse interest in the drivers who scraped into the race on the final row. Bryan Herta doesn’t belong here on pace, but (like Al Unser, Jr in 1992) starts from 33rd after he wrecked the car he qualified with. However, Bettenhausen’s Stefan Johansson (driving the field’s only Penske) and Dick Simon’s Davy Jones very much do. But they were quicker than Al Jr and Emerson Fittipaldi, so there is that.


Small correction: Stefan Johansson didn't qualify a Penske: Bettenhausen Racing hired a Reynard-Ford for him to qualify.

 

(Interesting conflict to use a Ford engine while in the rest of the year he used a Mercedes engine... So important was it for sponsor Alumax to be represented in the field one way or another)



#9 Risil

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:19

Brilliant, thanks Henri! Given that Bettenhausen were running a '94 Penske, sort of demonstrates that the seeds of the 1995 debacle were sown during the success of the year before, right? How dramatically satisfying.

#10 B Squared

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:22

Ahh Yes, Jp's first Indy 500 attendance.

 

I thought you'd been attending much longer; I didn't have a clue that I had nearly 30 "500's" on you. 



#11 Risil

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:23

I wonder how much truth there is in the rumours that Menards cars were not legal in qualifying....

Dunno. The Buick V6s had gone fast in qualifying before, and Menard had good equipment, engineers and drivers.

Also the Menards cars showed their pace almost from the first day of practice, which would be very risky if they were hiding anything illegal and it would give scrutineers and rivals weeks to find and protest something. Circumstantial evidence, I know.

#12 paulb

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 14:25

By the way,the intro to Pole Day II is lols.

#13 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:06

Brilliant, thanks Henri! Given that Bettenhausen were running a '94 Penske, sort of demonstrates that the seeds of the 1995 debacle were sown during the success of the year before, right? How dramatically satisfying.

No not at all !!!!

Forgive me to bragg about it but you can find more about what had gone wrong for Team Penske in 1995 over here.

 

http://8w.forix.com/...-pc23-1995.html

 

I got info about all this from among others, Nigel Beresford wha was with Team Penske in 1994.



#14 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:13

Dunno. The Buick V6s had gone fast in qualifying before, and Menard had good equipment, engineers and drivers.

Also the Menards cars showed their pace almost from the first day of practice, which would be very risky if they were hiding anything illegal and it would give scrutineers and rivals weeks to find and protest something. Circumstantial evidence, I know.

 

Thee was something very strange happening that year for sure.

 

The one most telling thing of all I can't find a good explanation for is the following:

 

In 1995 the Menard cars were by far the fastest in qualifying and practice. One year later the cars were not that much faster compared with the year before.

While the Reynard-Ford that was slower the year before all of a sudden made a quantum leap forwards in 1996. Now I please myself with the knowledge that the combo of Luyendyk&Wardrop was likely one of the most efficient driver&engineer combo's ever at Indy. So that might explain som of the quantum leap that the Reynard-Ford made in one year time. But I can't shake off the thought that something that Menard could use one way or another in 1995 was no longer there anymore and because fo that the lost a bit of an edge they had the year before and thus maiking their gain over the year way less.



#15 Risil

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:25

Thank you, invaluable research Henri! So in summary Penske's troubles at Indy that year are more likely to be traced back to 1) the new Penske PC24 chassis not getting on with the 1995 spec Goodyears, 2) the team getting lost with car setups after an anti-roll bar change that worked well on the short ovals didn't translate to the Speedway ("fast at Phoenix, fast at Indy" indeed!), and consequently 3) an apparent loss of confidence at the Speedway from Al Jr and Fittipaldi. Indianapolis in qualifying trim is a very dangerous place for a car that's not handling well so that third point is perhaps not so surprising.



#16 jonpollak

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:27

I thought you'd been attending much longer; I didn't have a clue that I had nearly 30 "500's" on you. 

Oh no..I'm a relative newbie.

I've only been to 7 500's

 

Each one an absolute peach in they're own individual way.

 

OH and PS.

MaxScelerate,great story.

Do you know who wrote that wonderful Wired article?

It was very enjoyable.

 

Jp



#17 PayasYouRace

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:28

If anything I'd be suspect of anything done during the 1996 qualifying rather than when all was well in 1995. We know the Buick V6s were mega fast. Indy resurfaced for 1996, meaning that a power advantage wasn't worth as much as in 1995 as you could carry a lot more speed through the corners. Either way I'm sure USAC were keen to wipe CART from the record books in 1996.



#18 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:32

Thank you, invaluable research Henri! So in summary Penske's troubles at Indy that year are more likely to be traced back to 1) the new Penske PC24 chassis not getting on with the 1995 spec Goodyears, 2) the team getting lost with car setups after an anti-roll bar change that worked well on the short ovals didn't translate to the Speedway ("fast at Phoenix, fast at Indy" indeed!), and consequently 3) an apparent loss of confidence at the Speedway from Al Jr and Fittipaldi. Indianapolis in qualifying trim is a very dangerous place for a car that's not handling well so that third point is perhaps not so surprising.

That pretty much sums it up. The fact that Paul Tracy later on in the year had a test at IMS with that very same PC24 that couldn't qualify some months earlier and he went over 230 with it proved that in May there had been something wrong, almost certainly that ultrastiff rollbar.

I was fooled into that trap of the '94 having a major desing flaw, masked by the Mercedes engine as wel for a long time. But then after what I heard from both Nigel Beresford and Nigel Bennett, and then dug very deep into de avaialbel data, I had to conclude that the '94 chassis was safe, sound and OK.



#19 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 15:36

If anything I'd be suspect of anything done during the 1996 qualifying rather than when all was well in 1995. We know the Buick V6s were mega fast. Indy resurfaced for 1996, meaning that a power advantage wasn't worth as much as in 1995 as you could carry a lot more speed through the corners. Either way I'm sure USAC were keen to wipe CART from the record books in 1996.

 

Good thinking and reasoning. But I have seen and read more theories about Menard on and over the edge in '95 and found more theories about all that too.



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#20 MaxScelerate

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 16:13

Do you know who wrote that wonderful Wired article?

It was very enjoyable.

 

Jp

Todd Lappin - https://www.wired.co...or/todd-lappin/

 

Judging from his linkedin, I doubt he's written much since.



#21 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 16:20

Suggestion to look for everyone.


With a restart, check out the monent when it appears as if the leading car picks up the speed.
Most of the time this happens in the chute between Turn 3 and 4.
Spoiler


#22 B Squared

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 16:36

Friend Scott Brayton was on the pole that year. + 96, don't underestimate what the Brayton's and Jim Wright brought to the power of the V6 Buicks and or Menards.

#23 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 09:52

It's race day! Have some Gordon Pipers!

 



#24 paulb

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 11:47

Great way to start the day.

Do I see bag-piperettes?

This will sound weird, but I have not seen one before.

#25 FLB

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 12:35

Dunno if it's the right place to post...

 

Bob Lazier, who was at Indy 1995 as his son Buddy was racing for John Menard, has died from Covid-19:

 

https://racer.com/20...ier-dies-at-81/



#26 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 12:57

That is sad. Best wishes to the Laziers and friends of Laziers.

1981 CART rookie of the year! What a family!

#27 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:10

Great way to start the day.

Do I see bag-piperettes?

This will sound weird, but I have not seen one before.


I see them too. No doubt I've seen lady pipers (pipettes?) before but didn't think to even look for them. Such are the doors of perception.

Anyway! 20 mins!

#28 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:30

Aaaand GO!

 

 

It's ABC's Delta Force theme! And the obligatory Ray Harroun shot.



#29 ANF

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:33

Wow, where did Little Al's stray wheel end up in 1989? Did it clear the fence?

#30 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:37

Engines! Tyres! Thunderstorms! Paul Page's intro has everything.



#31 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:38

Sam Posey declares Penske "just another team"! You heard it here first!

 

And Goodyear have cooked up an extra sticky last-minute just-flown-in-from-Ohio optional tyre for teams to better stand a chance against the Firestones. I love tyre wars. So unsustainable.



#32 rghojai

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:39

No Uncle Bobby?!?



#33 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:42

No Uncle Bobby?!?

 

He's here! I think by 1995 he had his own separate booth at Turn 2 about half a mile away from Sam Posey.



#34 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:44

"Only to be re-injured!" Bloody hell Paul.



#35 ANF

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:44

This music is so 1985.

#36 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:46

This music is so 1985.

 

Never get too far ahead of the curve.

 

That Tom Sneva crash from 1975 was insane.



#37 rghojai

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:47

He's here! I think by 1995 he had his own separate booth at Turn 2 about half a mile away from Sam Posey.

 

 

You weren't kidding!



#38 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:48

"Another driver who loves skiing: Davy Jones"



#39 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:49

Lol, the Youtube video cuts off the end of the picture so it reads "Hiro Matsushit". That is very unkind.



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#40 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:51

Someone should give Robby Gordon the name of Jacques Villeneuve's hairdresser.



#41 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:53

I swear Lyn St James just took a swig from a plastic bottle of windscreen wiper fluid.



#42 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:56

If you've led 337 Indy 500 laps there should be a scheme where you can trade them in for a Borg-Warner.



#43 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 15:57

Oh my god it's Sandy Andretti and her giant cowboy sombrero



#44 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:04

I'm not totally sure about that brass band. But Florence Henderson killed it! As did the cymbal player.



#45 rghojai

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:06

I've gone full American IndyCar. I can haz cheeseburger... and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. 

 

51lXKXE.jpg



#46 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:07

37:00 and it's Nabors time!



#47 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:09

39:20 engines started



#48 ANF

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:16

Robby Gordon pits to fix the radio.

#49 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:16

Don't think I've ever seen a car radio change before. Not in racing conditions anyway.



#50 Risil

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 16:18

Geez, stop zooming in on Stan Fox's legs, will you.

 

Cheever, St James and Fox out on lap 1. And De Ferran's car is missing half its front suspension.