By Will Martin
Fans of the racing community will be very content when the Asphalt No-Limits Firestone 550 IRL race goes down Saturday, June 8th under the lights at TMS.
Courtesy of a friend in the media in 2012 last year on June 9th I was indoctrinated into the whole experience of spending an afternoon watching how race car drivers prepare, how the crews for each team go about their business, their traditions, their routines, their isms and the like.
It was pretty cool to watch how the whole process plays itself out.
The highlight of my first time visit to TMS 6-9-12 was getting befriended by Randy Hill and getting a tour of the track while there were races going on prior to the night race, subsequently won by Justin Wilson. I was pulling for a kid named Will Power just because I could relate.
Familiar names to the June race include INDY500 winner Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchiti, Marco Andretti among others. Not since 1997 has an INDY winner gone on to complete the sweep and take the Firestone 550 in addition.
When last year’s race began under the setting sun and the lights, we were whisked away to a suite courtesy of Randy Hill. Standing inside of a condo looking straight down at the race that was happening was quite amazing.
I also recall there were race car drivers from yesteryear doing a pre-lap ride around the track with featured drivers which then led to the race itself. For the first timer seeing a race happen as the cars come at you then pass you with the sound of 1 million angry hornets ready to lay down the sting as cars pass.
Off in the distance there was a device that kept you constantly in the know about who your leader was, all the way to who was at the bottom of the pack. It also a thrill to see the race happen as you heard TV and radio announcers describe the action. After a while things start to make sense.
Thankfully the weather will be warm and not humid. Last year was close to 96 and humid as all heck. Made for a lot of water and hydrating. 2012 I was given the full treatment of IRL activity courtesy of Mr. Randy Hill and staff. This time around I will follow the action as media. Me thinks that being in a cool, confined location will be better this year while observing the happenings on the race track.
It was also brought to my attention that Will Power will be the pole position driver when things commence Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Many of my constituents will be there rooting for Dario, Helio, and Marco. My gut instincts tell me that Tony Kanaan will come out as the winner for 2013.
On a side note, there is another story I’ll be keeping an eye on. Dale Coyne Racing has hired Pippa Mann to drive the No. 18 in Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Mann ran the Indianapolis 500 for Coyne. She finished 30th.
The 29-year-old Mann will be making her second start of the season. She missed all of last year as she tried to put together a ride after suffering severe burns to her hand in the 15-car accident in the 2011 season-ending race at Las Vegas where fellow driver Dan Wheldon died.
2012 at TMS was a day spent taking copious amounts of pictures. 2013 I will be more intent on watching the action and laying low.