By Phil Hecken
It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States, and aside from the knowledge that MLB teams will be wearing
flag desecration Amateur Pacifist getups on Monday (a day for honoring our war dead, not the military, tyvm), we also know that this weekend brings the quintessential American auto race — the Indianapolis 500. My knowledge of Indy cars and the race itself is very limited — but fortunately we’re joined by a reader (and sometime contributor) who’s worked with me before to bring you racing history and facts — Rob Caplette, probably known more familiarly to you as “Inkracer” or “The Tattoed Enigma.” He’ll be bringing you two posts this weekend: today, a history of the great American race, and tomorrow a rundown of the participants for the 2013 edition.
I’ve actually been to the Indianapolis 500, and taken a lap (in a track bus) — all 2.5 miles of it — waaaaaaaaaay back in 1989, when a couple of buddies and I drove cross-county. The “Brickyard” has changed a lot since the first race, but the object is still the same. Be the first driver to get the checkered flag at the end. There’s a pretty great museum at the track too, which if you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend visiting. But, aside from almost always watching the race over the years, and being fairly fascinated by it, I really don’t know much. But Rob does. So I’ll now turn the remainder of today’s lede over to him, as he brings us…
The History of the Indy 500
By Rob Caplette
Rob Caplette, aka Inkracer here once again. Phil has graciously given me the keys this weekend to showcase the Indianapolis 500. Today I will dive into the history; the winners, the cars, iconic moments, and controversies, to get you ready for the 97th running of the Indy 500 tomorrow.
Some Indy 500 facts: 67 different drivers have won in the 96 races that have taken place to date. The race has been held annually since the first race in 1911, with the exceptions of 1917, 1918, and 1942-1945 due to World Wars One and Two. 18 drivers have won it multiple times; 3 have won it 4 times (Two drivers, Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves hope to get win number 4 this year), 7 drivers have 3 wins, (Dario and Helio are the only active drivers with 3 wins) 8 drivers have 2 wins, no active driver has just 2 wins. In all, 743 drivers (not including rookies this year) have taken part in the 500 mile race.
IndyCar has a long and unique history and the history of the cars looks, both in design and livery, go hand in hand. When we look at the modern single seater rockets that IndyCars have become, it is hard to imagine that in the beginning the cars were 2-seaters, a driver to look forward and a mechanic to look back. The rearview mirror in your car is an invention that was pioneered at Indy. In 1911, the average speed of the winning car was 74.602 miles per hour and the race itself took almost 7 hours. Fast forward to the 2012 event where the average speed was 167.734 and took just under 3 hours to complete. The cars have also transformed quite a lot from the early days. With the cars getting closer to the ground and the engines moving from in front of the driver to behind the driver.
Before we dive into the cars, we will take a look at the track itself. The track was originally paved completely with bricks. The track would stay mostly brick until 1961, when all but the famed Yard of Bricks was repaved. Since then, the track has only been repaved a few times, with the last track surface maintenance coming in 2004. The Pagoda has received several facelifts over the years, one of which was needed after a fire. The Winner’s circle has had a notable facelift as well, coming when the track prepared to host the Formula One United States Grand Prix.
Every aspect of Indycars and IndyCar racing has undergone changes from the original days. Pit stops literally fell from several minutes down to the seconds they take today. As the speeds of the cars grew, the safety measures for the crew grew as well. The guys going over the wall used to be in khakis and other clothing that could easily catch fire. Now, like the drivers, the crews wear fire retardant suits and helmets. Often the same design as the driver, though this isn’t always the case. My favorite crew get up from the 500 would have to go to the STP Coveralls.
The 1950s saw the start of a drastic overhaul to the IndyCar formula, which would spell the end of the front engine racers (The car pictured here is from earlier on in the history of Indy). A.J. Foyt would be the last man to win in a front engine car. He is also the only man in the 4-win Club to win in both front and rear engine cars.
The 1960s saw a more successful assault on IndyCar by Lotus, which was capped by a win by Jim Clark in 1965. The 70s saw even more evolution as the cars continued to get closer to the ground, and the addition of wings and downforce saw the speeds at the track continue to climb. From the 70s onward, the overall shape of the cars remained the same, though the visual evolution of the cars continued (and continues) to give us cars that are visually quite different.
The look of the current cars (named the DW12 after the late Dan Wheldon) will continue to evolve in 2014 with the introduction of Aerokits. This year the biggest change to the cars is the car number is now displayed within the rear tire guard. White denotes as veteran driver, red denotes a rookie.
My favorite Indy 500 is the 1989 race. It is the race I have seen the most (My parents had it recorded on VHS) It is also the first time the winner (Emerson Fittipaldi) won over 1 million dollars. It also has what it is, to me, one of the most iconic finishes in 500 history. Dan Wheldon’s final win of his career will also go down in history as Iconic Indy. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat so well summed up in the faces of those two drivers. I am glad to say I was in attendance for that race.
Indy has always been a home of racing innovation. No part of the car was ever overlooked in the pursuit of speed. Turbine Engines have even been used at Indy. Indy has also had its fair share of weird looking race cars. Head games between the teams are also a big part of what makes Indy special. Roger Penske has a history of covering up the front and rear wings of his cars, when not on track or in the garage. (I do believe that practice is now against the rules.)
Indy has had numerous iconic moments. Aside from the two I mentioned above, there is also Danny Sullivan’s famous “Spin and Win”, Sam Hornish’s last second pass of Marco Andretti, The closest finish in Indy 500 history where Al Unser Jr edged Scott Goodyear at the line. AJ Foyt becoming the first Four-time Winner of the great race, Ralph DePalma pushing his car to victory in the second Indy 500, and, of course, the barriers of 100 MPH (Rene Thomas, 1919), 150 MPH (Parnelli Jones, 1962) and 200 MPH (Tom Sneva, 1977) falling.
Of course, with the good comes the bad, and Indy has had its controversial moments as well. Most notably in 1981, where Bobby Unser was initially stripped of his win for passing under caution. He was eventually re-awarded the victory, but is said to still be bitter, and that it played a big role in his retiring at the end of that season. The other memorable controversy is the 2002 yellow controversy between Paul Tracy and Helio Castroneves. As with 1981, Penske’s driver was declared the victor when the smoke cleared.
Tomorrow I’ll be back with a rundown of how the cars qualified for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Thanks Rob! Great writeup. Readers? Are you into auto racing (either NASCAR or Indy/Formula 1)? Does this writeup make you want to see the race now? Let Rob know how much you appreciated this in the comments, and if you have any questions, fire away.
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Mike Edenzon, who tried his hand at a University-wide rebrand for the Scarlet Knights:
Since Nike has been “branding” schools by matching uniforms throughout each sport, I thought I’d give it a try with my favorite school, Rutgers.
I essentially simplified the football, basketball, and baseball uniforms, while matching letter and number fonts. I also tried to emphasize scarlet since they are the SCARLET Knights, and compliment that with white letter and trim instead of the awful black or chrome.
Next up is Joe Mueller, with a new look for the Blues of St. Looey:
A while ago I submitted two Saint Louis Blues away uniform concepts here are the home uniform concepts.
(I’ve also included the away jerseys in case some don’t remember them.)
We close today with Ty Brewer who has concept for the Bengals:
Here is my concept for some a New Bengals Logo and gear. Been a fan for 20 years, and I think it’s time to deviate away from the stripes (except for the helmet, that’s untouchable). I jumped on the bandwagon and added grey to the uniform, and replaced white all together. Thanks for your time and your awesome website!
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.
Nice set for this Saturday. Not too big, not too small, and a couple of very nice shots.
Stirrups to start a long weekend.
I’m a veterinarian that is spreading the revolution through my patient’s bandages. This one was seemed appropriate for Memorial Day and the client’s child asked for a Patriotic theme. Had to shrink it all down on this one as it was a 5 lb chihuahua.
(The patient’s face was hidden to protect the innocent)
St. Louis Browns today for no particular reason other than they were on the top of the “stirrup drawer” and they are a good look.
Robert & Phil,
You know what it is. Bucs & Pucks in the Burgh.
Does that look like a knuckle curve or a slider?
This was my look for the Memorial Day Weekend at my school. (I teach 5th and 6th grade Physical Education at the New Jersey shore.)
I broke out the “Amerks” Stirrups from the Robert Marshall Collection.
As we open up for our first summer after Hurricane Sandy, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Oklahoma as they begin the process of rebuilding.
And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ‘em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!). Be sure to visit Robert’s House of Hose for news on rups.
And now…here’s …
For Memorial Day weekend I decided to put the 76 Astros on special at the new price. Why? in honour of the rainbow of people that have given their life in service to this country, it seemed to make sense to me. In addition, the Sens stay on special. More importantly, I know what I am doing Monday before I grill, and I wish anyone else who has such a tradition all the best because I know how cathartic that experience is.
It’s only Saturday, so let me lighten up and get to the images. Um, clearly it is Veterinarian, that was pretty fabulous, and i loved the protecting the innocent text, fabulous. let’s just hope he can get us another pixture of an animal of a baseball fan who wants a classic stirrup look for this post. So, (name) wins this week’s buy one/get one that he can redeem whenever he wants. but there are other people who continue to blow me away like Soukie, and again this weeks kickball image is fabulous, and he is wearing a run of stripes that I asked the stripes to be low like the olde school pairs were, which I love on this past run of hawks. anyway, the point is Soukie has earned a the right to get anything and everything he wants for as long as I do this at the “new price”, Soukie you blow me away. Also, Jeff Martin — that. is. balls. or you have balls. — mucho props.
from each according their strype,
to each according their stirrvp.
• At least it isn’t camo… So, it seems the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are doing the Military Appreciation Thingy today (tonight). And they’ll be going, well, ‘patriotic’:
• New unis for Penn State?… It’s entirely possible, as there have been a couple stories on the Interwebs reporting this. Nothing major, mind you. According to that article, “At the ‘v’ of the neck you’ll see a new addition, a small Nittany Lion logo.” Wow. JoePa is probably rolling over in his grave.
• New for the Cosmos… Looks like the New York Cosmos (that’s an American soccer club) are getting some pretty nice kits. Not quite what Pele wore way back when, but still nice. (h/t Chance Michaels)
• Unis by Focus Group?… Why not. This is a pretty interesting read. Scroll down to the second section, entitled, “Joe Banner is gonna fix our logo and uniforms with focus groups.”
• The Stars come out in Texas… We know the Dallas Stars are getting new unis on June 4. We just don’t know what they’re getting (although the logo was inadvertently leaked late Thursday). But Tim Cowlishaw, in this interview, said what he’d like to see in the new unis: ” I hope to see some shade of green. I was talking to someone yesterday (not a Stars official, just a fan) who thinks it’s going to be red, white and blue. The Stars have been green since North Stars days. I don’t think they currently have anything approaching the best uniforms in the league so anything is going to be OK really.”
• Not uni related… but a great read: Paul & Kirsten’s NY Times article on the ‘Candela’ structures. That’ll be in Sunday’s paper.
And that will do it for this fine Saturday. Make sure you give props to the Inkracer for his great writeup as we begin the Memorial Day weekend. Race day is tomorrow. Puck & Hoop playoffs are moving along. Summer is just around the corner.
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken
“For some reason, I had an Expos cap when I was like 6 or 7 years old and when my dad explained to me that it was a ‘stylized M’ I was certain that he was just stupid and that elb was the Canadian spelling of Expos or something.”
–James T. Huening