The annual Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration is a time to honor the winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and the other starters in the 33-car field.
Monday’s dinner and ceremony did just that, as Takuma Sato was feted for taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The Andretti Autosport ace pocketed more than $2.4 million from the $13 million purse.
The awards presentation is also a time for drivers to relax and have some fun after a grueling few weeks of intense competition leading to the main event. It even provides a chance for them to poke a little fun at each other, as witnessed from these excerpts taken from the broadcast.
Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 champion and this year’s pole sitter, used to hold a pilot’s license and sometimes flew his own plane to races. The four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion gave that up when he had a family, but he still gained some air time in Sunday’s race after colliding with Jay Howard.
Fortunately, Dixon was able to laugh about it at the celebration:
Max Chilton, Dixon’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing, said the feat gave him the answer for what to get Dixon at Christmas:
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Dixon also couldn’t escape a couple jabs for the decision to make a late-night run to a Taco Bell drive-through the night he won the Indianapolis 500 pole position. Dixon and good friend and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti were held up at gunpoint while in line.
Fortunately, again, no one was injured and the alleged culprits were soon caught. Which, of course, opened the door for Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe to earn laughs at Dixon’s expense:
HOME SWEET HOME?
The ongoing saga of Conor Daly’s living arrangements began last year when Daly admitted he was a non-rent-paying resident at Hinchcliffe’s Indianapolis home. Well, just as in the 1970s sitcom “The Jeffersons,” it seems that Daly is “movin’ on up.”
Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay each chimed in on Daly’s adventures of home living/squatting.
ALONSO LEARNED INDY 500 LESSONS
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso made the much-publicized and welcome decision to compete in the Indy 500 for the first time this year, eschewing the opportunity to run in the F1 Monaco Grand Prix. The 35-year-old Spaniard became a quick fan favorite and thoroughly enjoyed himself … mostly.:
Alonso admitted he wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming amount of attention he received in May:
Alonso ran up front all day until has car stopped on track 20 laps from the finish. He led 27 laps in the No. 29 car and wanted to phone a friend to mark the occasion:
Michael Andretti, whose team put together the operation to bring Alonso to Indy – along with McLaren and Honda – said the great racer is welcome back anytime:
HERE’S TO YOU, CHAMP
All of the drivers took time to praise the race winner. Tony Kanaan said Sato’s win will be remembered each time he receives a call from the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500.
Alonso and Oriol Servia each had a favor to ask of Sato:
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT INDY MEANS
In addition to honoring Sato, the drivers also thanked the Hulman George family, INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway for putting on the greatest race in the world. Simon Pagenaud said no other race can compare:
And while he may have been a rookie making his first Indy 500 start, Jack Harvey summed it up best what the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race means to all the competitors fortunate enough to be a part of its 101st running – and the 100 before it: