The Tradition and This Year’s Outlook
Fast Friday and Carb Day have come and gone. These Month of May pillars help construct the cathedral that is the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy is a track of tradition, representing a living history of racing. It’s a special place to be – whether crossing the Brickyard for the first or the fiftieth time, and the traditions that lead up to the 500 are almost as important as the race itself.
This place invokes the urge to push the limits. That is why drivers occasionally find themselves flipping through the air at over 230 mph; and why normally shy, reserved individuals find themselves bellowing at drivers who can’t possibly hear them, dressing in enthusiastic if inappropriate outfits and hefting rubber chickens in the air like prize. No, we can’t explain that one either. There’s a constant buzz of energy which serves to highlight the drama.
This year, pre-race wrecks gave everyone the jitters, especially after James Hinchcliffe nearly lost his life when his car suffered suspension failure. IndyCar has seen full race aero required for qualifying, restricters in place to keep the speeds down, and a slew of amateur aerodynamicists taking to social media to argue it all.
One of the most anticipated traditions of the race weekend is Fast Friday. Competitors have been practicing for weeks, and the final practice session before the pole position qualifying is referred to as Fast Friday. It’s a time for showing off, and revealing what’s been held in the tank, a chest-bumping exercise in intimidation and speed. Often, the fastest times of the weekend post at this event.
What we saw this Fast Friday seemed to be a clear indicator of how the 500 would run. Six drivers posted speeds of 230 mph+ : Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Will Power, and Sage Karam. This might be the most experienced and tightly skilled set of drivers to ever compete.
These are the cars and the men that were fastest when the machines were allowed to be run in their most raw form. That isn’t to discount from the rest of the field though. It is always anyone’s race, but these six were ahead of the pack.
The final practice session before the race itself is called Carb Day, despite the fact that none of these cars run a carburetor, and a qualifying car hasn’t run one since 1963. This year, viewers watched nearly a third of the field pull past Scott Dixon’s pole-setting speed of 226.760 mph.
The traditions build anticipation and excitement, showcasing for viewers and drivers alike those who will push the envelope and gain, or in the cases of repeat winners, reaffirm, immortality.