David Turner writes from Indianapolis as we head towards the 100th running of the Indy 500….
Now just weeks away the countdown to the 100th running of the famed Indy 500 draws closer and closer.
On Wednesday, May 11, 2016 the reigning IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner kiwi Scott Dixon helped make more history by placing the official “Indianapolis Motor Speedway” lettering above the all new Gate 1 sign at IMS.
The moment marked the official opening of the new IMS Gate 1 Plaza. This has become a key piece of Project 100 at IMS.
“Having our Verizon IndyCar Series champion and an Indy 500 winner here at the Speedway to mark this significant occasion means so much to everyone here at IMS,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “The new Gate 1 Plaza will welcome fans from across the globe to our iconic facility, and provide a treasured year-round photo opportunity for visitors.
This weekend, is the start of racing at the Speedway for the month of May as the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis kicks off on the former F1 track and updated infield road course, it will be the first chance to be one of the first fans to walk through this historic entryway.
Project 100 represents a more than $90 million investment in the future of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Phase 3 of the project, now nearing completion, includes the new Gate 1 Plaza, an improved track fence, additional rows of seating along the front straightaway and the first stadium seats at IMS.
The new Gate 1 Plaza includes checkered flag-pattern tile as well as fan bricks, light posts accented with the famous Wing and Wheel logo and a recreation of the famous 1909 photo that has the layout of IMS inlaid in the entryway. It includes 19 entry gates, more than doubling the number previously available at Gate 1. It also significantly expands the entry space available to fans as they first enter the facility.
The next Project 100 milestone will be the placement of the famous Wing and Wheel above the new Gate 1 during Race Week of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Looking towards the 500 the current entry list is looking some what like this but again changing by the day.
With Michael Shank Racing confirming that it will not enter a car for the 100th Indy 500, the field of hopefuls has narrowed. After MSR’s efforts to put together a program for Chaves fell through, the Ohio-based team is focused solely on making its debut next month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Chaves mean while is chasing the remaining seat at Dale Coyne Racing and the 2015 Rookie of the Year at the 500 is hopeful he will land that seat.
So looking at the ever changing puzzle and its sure to have a few more twists in it yet and even more so after this weeks Indy GP this is how the current field may look.
1 Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske
2 Will Power, Penske
3 Helio Castroneves, Penske
4 Simon Pagenaud, Penske
5 Scott Dixon, Ganassi
6 Tony Kanaan, Ganassi
7 Charlie Kimball, Ganassi
8 Max Chilton, Ganassi (Rookie)
9 Josef Newgarden, ECR
10 Ed Carpenter, ECR
11 JR Hildebrand, ECR
12 Sebastien Bourdais, KV
13 Matthew Brabham, KV (Rookie)
14 Stefan Wilson, KV (Rookie)
15 Sage Karam, Dreyer & Reinbold
16 Buddy Lazier, Lazier Partners Racing
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti
18 Marco Andretti, Andretti
19 Carlos Munoz, Andretti
20 Townsend Bell, Andretti
21 Alexander Rossi, Andretti Herta (Rookie)
22 Graham Rahal, RLL
23 Spencer Pigot, RLL (Rookie)
24 Takuma Sato, A. J. Foyt
25 Jack Hawksworth, A. J. Foyt
26 Alex Tagliani, A. J. Foyt
27 Conor Daly, Dale Coyne
28 Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne
29 Pippa Mann, Dale Coyne
30 TBA, Dale Coyne (Luca Filippi is in the car at the moment, but will he remain in the seat after the Grand Prix of Indy? Gabby Chaves, James Davison, and a money-wielding Mario Dominguez share hopes of landing the entry so there are many chasing this ride.)
31 James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson
32 Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson
33 Oriol Servia, Schmidt Peterson-Marotti
34 Grace Autosport (The team owner Beth Paretta is known to be working on a program behind the scenes, but has refrained from commenting on those plans and Katherine Legge is still the named driver)
Others well its getting less but there are still some car and engine deals there still and it will become a race against time but then again this is Indy and this is the 100th so one can expect another twist in the entry list yet.