Indy 500 — My time with the Snakes

INDIANAPOLIS — Fifteen minutes is enough to last a lifetime.

For 15 minutes on Saturday, I found myself in the Snake Pit during the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was my first time in the Pit, and it will most certainly be my last.

Continue reading


Column: Line Drives — Mini finish only the beginning

[This is the unabridged version of my column that appeared in the May 11 issue of The Commercial Review. For the abridged version, click here.]

Mentally and physically I was prepared.

I had a plan I was going to follow that I was sure would help me reach both of my goals — finish, and do so in under two and a half hours.

I was already in the area because of the Indiana Associated Press Media Editors awards banquet*, I stayed just north of Indianapolis in Fishers with my friend Eric, his wife Clorissa and their son Sawyer. (It’s my go-to spot to crash whenever I need a night in the donut.

I had an alarm set for 6 a.m. Saturday, knowing full well I was going to hit snooze a couple times. I got up, changed, and left Fishers about a half hour later.

I got to Indianapolis and the Indiana Parking Garage, where I had reserved a parking spot for myself, not knowing what the parking situation was going to be like with thousands of extra people in the area.

I parked and made my way to the starting area on Washington Street in Indianapolis.

Rain began to sprinkle from the sky through the 44-degree air. I found the gear check UPS trucks, and it was then I opted at the last minute to ditch a jacket,]. Instead, I decided leggings, shorts, a long sleeve shirt, T-shirt and ball cap would be sufficient attire for the next three hours.

Photo May 06, 7 35 45 AM


I joined the thousands of runners who were herded like cattle between steel barriers with banners indicating the start of each of the five waves, with letters representing “corrals” within each wave.

I made my way to Wave 4 in Corral Q, trying my best to be near the front and not have to fight too much with any runners ahead of me that might be a little slower than my intended pace.

We started to make our way forward toward the starting line, with an approximate start time of 8 a.m. As I took each step, my anxiousness to run was subdued. The wind was gusting and at that moment I regretted my earlier decision to run without a jacket.

Wave 4 approached the starting line. The IndyCar zoomed west on Washington Street in the Wholesale District of Indianapolis. With the official time above my head, the emcee began to count down from 10 to signify the start of the race.

As I began the race, I left my strategy in the starting corral.

Continue reading

Column: Line Drives — Curiosity reveals answers at Indy

[This is my column in the May 29 issue of The Commercial Review.]

SPEEDWAY — As a sports writer — really, any journalist — we’re supposed to be curious.

In addition to writing about how things happened, reporters write about why things happened.

Part of our job is to be curious. To ask questions.

Last year covering the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, my main goal was to just take in the entire experience — the massiveness that is the track, the size and speed of the machines, the number of working media members and all the other behind-the-scenes happenings.

During my sophomore stint Sunday at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, curiosity started to kick in.

I was no longer an Indy 500 rookie. I had been to the track before and I had a better idea of where things were.

While in pit lane during pre-race activities, I took a ton of photos — steering wheels, actual wheels, ground-level shots of the cars, paint schemes, gas tanks, friends in the crowd.

I even took video of Alex Tagliani’s pit crew practicing replacing tires.
Continue reading

Column: Foul Ball — Crashes caused a strange Sunday

[This is my column in the May 19 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Editor’s note: This is the launch of a special Foul Ball column, a play off of Chris Schanz’s normal Line Drives column on Thursdays. Foul Ball will appear from time to time in print and on

SPEEDWAY — It was a strange weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

First, Mother Nature dropped rain in the area Saturday after two drivers had completed the first round of qualifying for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

IMS and IndyCar officials were forced to postpone Saturday’s schedule to Sunday, cramming two days worth of activities into one.

Then Sunday morning during his practice run, Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter crashed into the wall, spinning his car around, causing it to go airborne and land upside down.

Carpenter’s grueling wreck — he walked away unscathed — wasn’t a one-time thing either. Two other drivers have had their cars leave the ground this week.
Continue reading