Slightly Off Track: Indianapolis 500

I can tell you one thing: It’s hard to write a blog on Indy.

The Indianapolis 500 is unlike any other race on the schedule. The month of May is a “season” of its own. We have the 2012 season and then we have Indy.

You might not know this, but there are actually three races during our two-week stay at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: there’s the race for the pole, the actual running of the Indy 500, and the race to survive the entire thing.

You know how they have different seasons of the show “Survivor?” If they can somehow captivate a nation with “Survivor: Nicaragua,” imagine if you will, the “Survivor: Month of May” series. Pitting various contestants against the schedule of Indy. It’s like a test of one’s dedication, inner strength and sanity. And if I’m being honest with you… I love EVERY minute of it.

At the beginning of May, I sent out the tentative May schedule. I usually just make revisions along the way. By race day, I emailed the final: Version 26. You gotta go with the flow, ya know?

The month of May is filled with track activity. But in between the practices, there’s the autograph sessions, parades, media tours, press conferences, charity events, photo opps, driver meetings, award presentations, sponsor dinners, team meetings, fan events and random appearances. The number of times that we, as PR people hear, “Can I just get your driver for five minutes?” could win a Guiness World Record.

Every once in awhile, amid all the craziness, you find a rare gem like this one:

Can you keep a secret? Good. I can’t stand Carb Day. Don’t get me wrong – I love all the fun stuff planned at the track and the fact that there are more people at that event than all of the Pacers home playoff games combined. But showing up at the track for one day (hint: not race day), getting completely wasted, littering the hallowed grounds with your beer cans and stumbling over to yell a slurred, “Oooooooh, Barracuda” in my face does not make me your biggest fan. Viva La Carb Day.

On that same note, I’d like to offer a (free-of-charge) public service announcement, one which I continue to push because I care: Ladies, stop wearing six-inch stilettos to the race track. By the end of the day, you end up walking like a drunk muppet and that’s not sexy. In addition, I overheard a crew guy this month say, “Wow. It sure is getting skanky up in here.” If you don’t want to be the girl that comment is directed at, try some other footwear options. You’re welcome.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

I do, in fact, love the month of May. For every person in the paddock – drivers, owners, crew, IndyCar staff – it’s a two-week period filled with so much challenge that it feels like two months. We make a home at 16th and Georgetown, and wake up every morning to meet the same faces that have become like our second family.

I can only assume that the passion I have for this sport is what drives all the other worker bees in the paddock. Without the thrill of competition or the desire to win Indy’s “three” races, the 20-hour days and can’t-stop-now action plan just wouldn’t be worth it. But the proof is in the pace: We’re done with the 2012 Indy 500 with no rest in sight. We now head into four races in June, making it seven consecutive weekends of track activity. Get your coolers re-packed and we’ll see you in Detroit!

The Hot Lap
Number of smiles at the shop when our Honda engine arrived: 24
Number of Barracuda Racing golf carts at IMS: 4
Number of air horns purchased to help “guide” said golf carts: 2
Times a Yellow Shirt exercised a wee bit too much power (that we know of): 3
T-shirts given away at Team Barracuda-BHA Tweetup: 120
Times some drunk dude in the front-row of the Tweetup shouted “Four-twenty!” for no apparent reason and annoyed the crap out of everyone in attendance: 18
Number of camera crew for an upcoming Tagliani/Indy 500 special: 4
Number of hero cards handed out during May: 897
Percentage of dry eyes at IMS during Bryan Herta’s parade lap in Dan Wheldon’s 2011 winning car: 0
Number of autographs on Bryan’s helmet (which will be auctioned off to benefit Dan’s charity, the Alzheimer’s Association): 33 (all drivers in the field)
Number of lead changes during the 96th Indy 500: 35 (old record was 29)
Track temperature during Sunday’s race: 127
Drinks Tag had during the race: 0 (due to drink tube malfunction)
Percentage of our team that believes we could’ve won this one: 100
Pictures in the Team Barracuda-BHA Indy 500 photo album: 171 (check it out here: http://on.fb.me/JIcmTX)