Monday, October 31, 2011

Road To Indy Test: Our Visit

As I mentioned Friday, my son and I were out at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday to watch the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test. We saw just a bit of Star Mazda, but managed to see a good bit of Indy Lights. It's just a single test, and obviously it's tough to tell much, but Peter Dempsey just always looks sharp out there (I later found out that he and Tristan Vautier topped the session times, which doesn't surprise me). I certainly hope he finds a solid ride in Firestone Indy Lights for 2012. I think if he had a solid deal, he'd be a championship contender.

In any case, my son loved every minute of the cars on track. We had the Team Moore #2 car (with Carlos Muñoz) go slightly off course right by us where the road course joins the oval by Turn 2, and he was super-impressed with it all. I doubt it was his intent, but Carlos Muñoz, you inadvertently really impressed a 2 1/2 year old kid.

It was pretty sparse in the early morning, but folks started showing up on the viewing mounds more towards the later morning with the Indy Lights cars on track. For those keeping track at home, my son's two favorite cars seemed to be the Pelfrey Racing #81 (Petri Suvanto) in Star Mazda, and the very red #4 of Belardi Racing. As all preschoolers know, it is an indisputable, scientific fact that red cars go faster. (This may also explain why in the museum he want to sit in the day-glo red 1968 Lotus turbine of Graham Hill, but that's probably just an early sign of extreme good taste).

From what I heard of the weekend, the paddle shifter test (carried out on Team E's #17 car), was a big success. There was a lot of positive feedback, which is a good thing. Indy Lights is one of the few larger open wheel series not employing paddle shifters. It's not a huge cost, and can allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

All in all, I hope everyone involved felt the Memorial Test was a success, not only because it's a fun event to have at the end of the season, but because it's honoring someone who worked extremely hard to make his team a success on the Road to Indy. If they do it again next year, I'll be there. Spending a late October morning with your son at the Speedway watching him point out every time a car goes past beats just about anything else going.

Happy Halloween!

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