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.
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
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.
do you go back and tell your friends you got to drive at Indy and only went