What’s it all Worth …

Posted: May 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

Speedway Sightings …

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune — May 13, 2008
Speedway, Indiana
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The world’s palace of speed, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is silent today.

The mammoth two and one-half mile race course constructed in 1909, has no cars on the track.

But that in no way means everyone has taken the day off.

Just the contrary, behind the closed doors of the Gasoline Alley garages, mechanics for the teams that covet the final twenty-two spots in the 2008 Indy 500 grid are working feverishly.

A few of the teams still on the outside looking in are: Newman/Haas/Lanigan, AJ Foyt Racing, Vision Racing, Rubicon Racing/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Roth Racing, KV Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold, Sarah Fisher Racing and CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports.

They are all searching for speed and have only a handful of days to find it. The lights have been burning late into the evening here at Brickyard.

So what is this all worth and why do people sacrifice so much for it.

Here are a few reasons why …

Money

This year’s Indianapolis 500 purse has skyrocketed to $13.4 million with the winner taking home a record $2.5 million. This is 25 percent larger than the record $10.67 million purse for the 2007 race.

The Indy 500 runner-up could earn at least $1.25 million. The third-place finisher will earn at least $750,000. Fourth and fifth-place finishing cars will be guaranteed bonuses of $475,000 and $375,000, respectively. Every driver who races in the 2008 Indianapolis 500 will earn at least $270,000.

Joie Chitwood, President and COO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway explained why the purse was dramatically increased over last year saying “As the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway approach some historic milestones in 2009 and 2011, it was only appropriate we strengthen the incentive to compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The new purse structure for the Indy 500 will help all entries earn more money than ever during the Month of May.”

Trophy

After taking the checkered flag, you will soon have your face permanently etched onto the 72-year-old Borg-Warner Trophy, one of the most coveted trophies in the world of sports. You will also receive a “baby” Borg for your own collection.

Cool Drink

You will have the opportunity to take a cool drink of milk in front of 400,000 cheering race fans at Indy and millions around the world celebrating your 500 win.

What it all means …

Here’s what a few past winners have had to say about how an Indy 500 victory affected their lives.

BOBBY RAHAL (1986): “There is nothing in my racing career that replaces winning the Indy 500. The series championships were great, and the accomplishment felt tremendous. But wherever I go, I am listed as a champion of the Indianapolis 500. That title will always be with me.

A.J. FOYT (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977): “Indianapolis is what made A.J. Foyt what he is today.”

MARIO ANDRETTI (1969): “Winning the Indy 500 changed my life. It created tremendous opportunities that I wouldn’t have had at that stage of my career. It’s the only single auto race in the world that is as valuable as winning a championship.”

BOBBY UNSER (1968, 1975, 1981): “We Unsers made Pikes Peak famous, but it was the Indianapolis 500 that made the Unsers famous. You don’t know how hard it is to win that race once. I lost my brother Jerry there, and in my first two starts I only completed three laps. But I didn’t give up and won it three times. And that was battling against Foyt, Andretti, Rutherford, my brother Al, Mears, Johncock. It was tough. Today, I’m still Bobby Unser, three-time Indy 500 winner. The world will always know me for that.”

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