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Lapping It Up At Indy
Rick Reilly
May 28, 2007
HERE ARE the five things that were going through my mind as I was being strapped into the coffin-shaped cockpit of an Indy car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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May 28, 2007

Lapping It Up At Indy

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And I wanted to scream, "What's second prize?"

Foyt, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times, essentially said I was doomed. "That wall's kinda close," he said, in his Houston drip. "And them straightaways are so long it makes them turns look a little skinny. You might wanna lift [your foot off the gas] a little." A little?

I once heard about an Indy rookie who was told that the great drivers never "lifted" at Indy, but the kid couldn't get himself to take the turns at full speed. When he finally did, somebody asked him how. "I just put my left foot over my right and stomped," he said.

With much remorse, I pushed the button in the modified car that Arie Luyendyk drove at Indy in 2001. That started my favorite whine, and the crew began pushing the racer. Yeah, two guys push-start you in fifth gear because they don't trust amateurs to shift. Kind of takes the glory out of it, though. Sort of like showing up for your big date with Halle Berry and your mom's in the backseat.

Meanwhile, the driver in the Indy car I would follow, Jeff Sinden, was already 100 yards ahead and leaving me behind like the rest of 'N Sync. I had no choice but to floor it. The car scorched off, and pretty soon the wind felt like it would pull my head off my neck. I started getting lightheaded and seeing spots, and then I diagnosed the problem. I wasn't breathing.

The turns were hairier than ZZ Top. Engineers say going 220 mph down the straightaway at Indy and then hitting Turn 1 is the same as you driving down your street at 76 mph and suddenly turning into your driveway. I believe it.

And it's all made worse by the fact that your clenched butt is sitting about a stack of quarters off the ground, and those huge Firestones are howling out in front of you and your lead driver has vanished again, forcing you to jam the accelerator down the straights. At one point, I actually thought, If I go any faster, this thing will blow!

After four furious laps, I coasted in, elated, looking for Foyt so I could yell, "Piss somewhere else, buddy!" I whipped off my helmet and asked the lap guy, "How fast did I get? Was I over 150?"

He looked at his clipboard. "Not exactly." Turned out my lap average was 95.

Ninety-five? How do you go back and tell your friends you got to drive at Indy and only went 95?

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