Every year around this time, to help me get into the mood, I watch a DVD documentary on the Indianapolis 500, from the beginning of the 1960s until 1970. Those were the 10 years of major change at the Speedway.
The documentary is narrated, for the most part, by the late great ABC sportscaster Jim McKay who starts it off by saying: “It’s the good, ol’ summertime and it’s this time of year when you hear these three distinct commands: “Play ball,” “They’re off, “ and “Gentlemen start your engines.” It is so true and you hear those words all the time in summer.
NBC, on Saturday before the first of the two big races at Indianapolis in May, the 500 being the biggie (Colton Herta won the first one Saturday)) had an hour-long discussion involving the four drivers who, they say, have won the 500 at least four times: AJ Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. It was a fabulous 60 minutes of reminiscing and if you can get it on repeat, I urge you to take a watch in case you missed it the first time around.
But between something that was said on the documentary and on the hour-long discussion resulted in advertent controversy. For example:
Foyt, when he won his first 500 in 1961, cheated. He had trouble hooking up his fuel rig and could only get some of his remaining fuel into his tank. Next stop, he borrowed someone else’s rig, which worked. Only after the race was what he did declared illegal. So Foyt really only won the race three times.
Helio, of course, made no reference to Paul Tracy, who beat him in 2004 (although disallowed), so his “fourth” victory scored in 2021 was really just his third.
Of the four men honoured, then, only two were legitimate – Al Unser and Rick Mears. Both those men earned their places.
Now, to the weekend’s results:
After stalking the leaders for 250 laps, Treyten Lapcevich took advantage of contact during NASCAR Overtime to win the NTN Ultimate Bearing Experience 250, his first career NASCAR Pinty’s Series victory.
Lapcevich was third on the final restart but shot to the lead when Marc-Antoine Camirand drove leader Raphael Lessard up the track in Turn 1. Lapcevich held off Lessard for the win, much to the approval of his home track crowd.
“Those last two laps were wild,” Lapcevich said in Victory Lane. “Marc got into him in (Turns) 1 and 2, I just had to take advantage and then keep Raphael behind me. It feels great to finally put this RGC Sports / Qwick Wick / FBM No. 20 in Victory Lane. I came close so many times last year, but this one was just meant to be.”
In the Cup race at Kansas Sunday, Kurt Busch finished first, with his brother third and Kyle Larson second. Zane Smith won the trucks race.
Ricky Taylor and Felipe Albuquerque, driving an Acura DPi, won the Mid-Ohio round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sunday. The IMSA cars will be running at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July.
Reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries won the two Berlin EPrix races this weekend, round 8 of the Formula E championship. McLaren F1, meantime, announced it would be participating in the Formula E championship going forward. I find that curious, because McLaren is mortgaged to its hilt and nothing spends money faster than Formula E, which has no home base. F1 and IndyCar have home bases; Formula E goes from place to place and the hotels are taken up by the crew and they live on the road all the time and if anybody wants to spend a fortune this would be the way to do it.
T.J. Buffenbarger, who runs the TJSlideways sprint car website, sent me a short yarn on Ohsweken Speedway’s Dylan Westbrook, who was racing in the States this weekend. He made it up as far as third before he ran out of laps.
Now, two things: I am missing Paul Tracy on the NBC telecasts. James Hinchcliffe is doing a fine job, but Tracy didn’t have a filter and it was always a surprise what came out of his mouth, which made for interesting listening.
The other interesting thing this weekend, which was a forerunner to the 500, is that for the first time in the history of that race legalized gambling will be allowed on the grounds. Now, of course, betting on auto racing has been forbidden because the drivers would get together and fix them. We all know that there have been Formula One and NASCAR races that have been questionable. The 500 will only be available through one sports book on the grounds of the Speedway. But it will still be interesting. Will the winner, for example. bet serious money on himself and then have to question whether or not he or she might’ve been in cahoots with other drivers?
Bad news: 14-time Canadian Pro Superbike National Champion Jordan Szoke is recovering from serious injuries to both legs and an ankle suffered during a Media Day event at the Walton Raceway motorcross track near Stratford. He also injured his jaw and chin. “it’s going to be a long road to recovery but with the help of my family, friends and fans, I will be back,” he said.
See you next weekend, folks.