By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune/ Chicago Sun-Times News Group — May 7, 2007
The gates of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway swung open wide this morning signaling the beginning of the Month of May, leading up to the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.
Bright, sunny skies, 15 mile an hour winds and temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s greeted race fans as they came to celebrate the legacy of A.J. Foyt’s 50 years of racing at Indianapolis.
Clearly illustrating that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was open for business for 2007 was the running of the ceremonial first lap on the legendary two and one-half mile oval.
Race fans witnessed a unique blend of racing history as Foyt’s 1961 Bowes Seal Fast Trevis/Offy Roadster, his 1964 Sheraton-Thompson Watson/Offy Roadster, his 1967 Sheraton-Thompson Coyote/Ford and 1977 Gilmore Racing Coyote/Ford took a couple of parade laps around the storied speedway. Running with the four cars that Foyt himself piloted to victories in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, was his A.J. Foyt-PowerTeam Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile Aurora driven to the Indy 500 Winner’s circle by Kenny Brack in 1999. To the cheers of race fans around the speedway, Anthony Joseph Foyt, circled the track, along with Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO, Tony George as part of the festivities.
Taking the honor for being the first on track for Opening Day of the 91st Indianapolis 500 was Jaques Lazier in the #21 Playa Del Racing entry. Not long after Lazier entered the track for his Indy 500 Refresher test, Rookie Milka Duno in the #23 SAMAX Motorsports Dallara/Honda began her Rookie Orientation Program in earnest. After 75 laps, with the fastest being 214.128 mph, Duno was informed she had successfully completed the Rookie program and would be allowed to attempt to qualify for this year’s 500.
Later in the afternoon, Jacques Lazier, Davey Hamilton and Michael Andretti were all informed that they had completed their Indy 500 Refresher tests. For Hamilton, it was another step in his long quest to return to the Indianapolis 500 after what was believed to be a career-ending accident six years ago at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamilton, who underwent a collective 25 surgeries to repair damage to his feet and ankles, will be behind the wheel of the #02 Vision Racing entry with sponsorship coming from HP Computing. Hamilton scored the third fastest lap of the day, at 218.022 mph in his Dallara/Honda.
Michael Andretti in the #39 Motorola/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda completed his Refresher test in short order with an 11 lap run, registering the fastest speed of the day at 219.871 mph. The second fastest speed of the day was gained by Ryan Briscoe at 218.216 mph.
Also getting track time were Rookie Phil Giebler, who finished the first two of the four phases needed to complete the Rookie Orientation Program. Giebler used his teammate at Playa Del Racing, Jaques Lazier’s #21 Panoz/Honda for his orientation and recorded a top speed of 209.387 mph.
Finishing out the day’s entries getting some practice time on the track was Jon Herb in his #19 Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda with a top speed of 211.697.
Gasoline Alley Notes …
Major race teams usually use the morning of opening day to put their individual Gasoline Alley garages in order. At 10:30 this morning, race team truck haulers belonging to Team Penske, A.J. Foyt Racing, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and others could be seen unloading cars and equipment. It what may be a harbinger for the future of the Month of May, it appeared that Chip Ganassi’s team had already been to the track and gone. Garages #27-#32, already appeared to be completely outfitted with all of Target Ganassi’s equipment and cars. When walking by and seeing their equipment in place out front, it was if Ganassi’s people were saying … “We’re ready !!”