The end of an era
If you want to see 250,000 people with tears in their eyes, attend the Indianapolis 500 this May for Jim Nabor’s last performance of “Back Home In Indiana.” According to this report about Jim in the Hawaii publication Mid-Week, this will be the last time Jim’s silky smooth baritone will join the Purdue Marching Band on the 1917 ode to the Hoosier state. One of the longest running Month of May traditions, Nabors was first called upon to sing the song as a last minute replacement in 1972.
“The first time that I ever sang at the Indy 500 in 1972, the warmth I got from the crowd immediately made me become a lifetime Hoosier; and I’ve always cherished it,” Nabors said. “I’ll see you all in May; but I’ve come to the conclusion that my health doesn’t permit me to travel very much anymore. So I’ll be retiring from singing ‘Back Home Again’ at the Indy 500 after this year.
“I want to give a special thanks to everyone; and particularly the Hulman George family, who have a special place in my heart and are my wonderful friends. I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Hat tip to James Black from 16th and Georgetown for finding the story.
A champ gets his chance on pole
Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti never sat on the pole for any of his ten starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). On Sunday May 25th, he will be leading the field of 33 to the green flag in Chevrolet’s new Z/28 Camaro.
“It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to drive the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500,” said Franchitti. “As a historian of motorsport and as a three-time winner of this great race, I will appreciate every minute of getting to pace the field in the new 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. Although I won’t be competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, this will be as close as one person can get to the action. I can’t wait until May in Indianapolis.”
This May will mark the 25th time that the blue bow-tie has paced the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” and also the 8th time that a Camaro has had that honor. Founded the same year as IMS, Chevrolet has had a long history at the speedway beginning with Arthur Chevrolet contesting the first race, to Gaston Chevrolet winning the Memorial Day classic in 1920 and Tony Kanaan winning the 97th running powered by the Chevrolet IndyCar V6.
“It’s great to have four-time IndyCar series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti driving the 2014 Camaro Z/28 pace car,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. “He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Dario lead the field to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
Former IndyCar driver Alex Lloyd recently manhandled this track ready car around the Barber Motorsport Park. Link to review and video.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing lucky
I’m pretty sure that when Graham Rahal said he wanted to start the season “on fire,” he didn’t mean literally. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team transporter caught on fire two hours after leaving the team shop in Brownsburg, Indiana. The fire appears to have started in the engineering lounge and was quickly extinguished by the two truck drivers and local fire officials. Thankfully nobody was injured, and the team was able to make it back to the shop clean off their soot covered equipment and load up onto a second truck for the trip to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Safety upgrades and a change in race control philosophy
President, Competition and Operations, INDYCAR, Derrick Walker recently chatted with Gordon Kirby about 2014 safety upgrades and changes in race control. This is a must read for any die-hard fans. Safety upgrades include:
- side impact additions to the chassis to
- new head surrounds for road and street courses
- more robust rear wheel guards on road and street courses
- possible dampers to catch spikes in steering load to decrease hand and wrist injuries
Race control changes include:
- two stewards will be added to the mix with Race Director Beaux Barfield, the two stewards will rotate out every three to four races
- the three stewards will vote on infractions
- changes to the way yellows are determined
- changes to when the pits are opened and closed
Smurf gets a sponsor
The Smurf blue No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda of Simon Pagenaud will be sporting the logo of Environment Rail Solutions for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Environmental Rail Solutions, Inc. is a transportation logistics management company providing planning, management, equipment and personnel to transport large volumes of material via rail throughout the country
More Front Wing’s most excellent Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Event Summary and our Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Set-Up Sheet have gone live. Both are living documents that are constantly being updated, so make sure to visit often. And don’t worry, we won’t step on each other’s toes too much. The Event Summary has all your off track goodness while The Set-Up Sheet tries to cover all of your off track activities.
#IndyCar tweet of the day:
Not IndyCar but still great. I think Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire driver Jason Bedasse is just A LITTLE excited to get out of the office and get racing.
— Jason Bedasse (@BedasseRacing) March 25, 2014
IndyCar video of the day
Carlos Washington or Denzel Munoz? Either way this is pretty dang funny!