The colors of the 2008 Indianapolis 500 were as varied and bright as the nearly 250,000 people who came for the greatest spectacle in racing this past Sunday. Frank Kozuch, owner of Alexandrias local hobby shop, Whistle Stop Hobbies, was among the spectators, enjoying the race for the twenty-fifth year in a row.
Blue skies prevailed on race day after a month of dark grey hues punctuated by wind and rain. Emblazoned on the logo of the 92rd running was a bright orange mirrored in the morning sun drying up any remaining puddles from the soggy Carboration Day weather. Shining stars appeared such as Jim Nabors, who has sung Back Home Again in Indiana for more than 25 years, Florence Henderson, Julianne Hough and Kristi Yamaguchi to open the days festivities.
The green flag waved to start the race and green continued to be the cursed color of Tony Kanaans 7-11 car which lead 12 laps only to be forced into the wall by his own teammate, Marco Andretti, then t-boned by driver and car-owner, Sarah Fisher. In the safety truck, Kanaan reported that Fisher was crying so hard over the loss of her car, and maybe her lifes savings, that he offered her his car before remembering that Andretti-Green racing might not feel so generous. A car wearing any green has never won the enormous, silver Borg-Warner trophy emblazoned with the likenesses of all past winners of the 500 mile race. Green was also the color of nearly 1/3 of this years field with 11 rookie drivers qualifying, many joining Indys 11 rows of 3 as a result of the unification of IRL and the CART series.
Red was the color most often seen during this years race starting with AJ Foyt IVs second car firewhich caused him to be doused in water. The soaking resulted in just a little chaffing during the remaining two hours of racing. Red-hot tempers flared as well when car-owner Michael Andretti accused Dancing with the Stars winner, Helio Castroneves, of a blocking maneuver he should reserve for dance lessons.
Danika Patrick, the first female driver to win an IRL race last month in Japan, saw red from her rearview mirror leaving the pits after a caution flag pit stop. Claiming that Penske driver, Ryan Briscoe, left his pit and immediately entered the up to speed lane only to take out her rear suspension, Patrick stomped towards her competitions pit. Owner Roger Penske was heard saying, Lower your visor, Ryan, shes coming! over the team radio. Quick thinking Head of Security, Charles, thankfully intervened and directed her back to her own pit where she dejectedly watched the remainder of the race. At Monday nights Victory dinner, both Briscoe and Patrick thanked Charles for stepping in before things got ugly. Fan-favorite, Milka Dunnos bright red fire suit and red and white Citgo car, were seen finishing the race for the first time after a scary 360 degree spin-out that took her into the pits for several laps.
The yellow caution flag was waved 8 times for a total of 69 race laps, the second most laps run under caution in the history of the race. The glow-in-the dark yellow car of Ed Carpenter, stepson of Indy track owner Tony George, managed to avoid causing any cautions but a stall and a 20-plus-second pit stop dashed his chances of winning forcing him to finish in fifth position.
Brought home by the black and white of the legendary checkered flag signed by all 33 drivers, Scott Dixon, for the Ganassi Racing team, finished with a leisurely 1.75-second victory over Vitor Meira. Dixon receives 2.9 million dollars, the largest purse in Indy racing history, for his efforts. On a personal note, truly an amazing driver and incredibly gracious winner, the New Zealand born Dixons win was hard fought and well deserved. At last nights Victory Banquet, Dixon told the crowd that without the pancakes his wife, Emma, prepared for him on Sunday morning, he would not have had the chance to drink the milk!