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Brickyard 400 Race Notes & Quotes And A Thought

The start of the 24th running of the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400. [John Wiedemann Photo]

The start of the 24th running of the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400. [John Wiedemann Photo]

 

 

by Paul Gohde

So, where were you? There were way too many empty seats at the 24th Brickyard 400. Of course there were also too many cautions and red flags, but ‘Where were you’? This was either the most exciting, entertaining race in years at IMS or the biggest comedy of errors since “It’s a Mad, Mad World” hit the screen in the 60’s. They were talking about a race ending perhaps after sunset (it missed by five minutes.). Rain slowed the race with a 1 Hour 47 Min. red flag near the start and the Fun started shortly after. Were you in front of your TV when the race started at 2:44p.m.? Are you still there? Has your DVR run out of space? Has the safety crew run out of Speedy Dry? Is the scoring pylon out of light bulbs? Have the drivers run out of patience? Bizarre was a word being used too much at IMS today. The greatest drivers in the world? Hardly, except for the heroes who missed Kyle Busch’s crashing car in the short chute between turns one and two. They were world class. Just when you thought there couldn’t be another caution; there were several more. Roger Penske still hasn’t had a winner, but his driver almost won on attrition. Interviewed drivers blamed the crashes on the guys behind them or the guys in front of them. By the end there weren’t many behind them or ahead of them. The winner was on the ground in Victory Lane. Too happy or too tired? All of this begs the question: Why weren’t you here? There were perhaps as many people here today as there were in 1993 for the first NASCAR test run at IMS. It was a big deal. It still should be. It was great entertainment today whether you thought it was exciting or a farce. Where were you? Where will you be next September, 2018, when the race is the final run in the Regular Season before the Playoffs begin. You thought they were aggressive today? Where will you be? I know a guy that has tickets for you.

  • Fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended any hope of a storybook finish to his Brickyard 400 career when contact with Trevor Bayne on a restart forced the popular driver to the garage. The veteran is retiring at the end of the season and had hoped to win the race his father won in 1995. “Someone checked up in front of us and I got into the back of Trevor. The contact broke our radiator; just bad luck.”
  • Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon drove the Camaro ZL1 Pace Car. He met the media before the green flag and reminisced about his years here at Indy: “This will be the first time that I’m not competing in the Brickyard 400. This is the only race that I have not been in the field competing. That’s bittersweet. I love this place. I’ve loved it since the day I passed by when I was a quarter-midget racer, hoping one day to race at this amazing speedway.” Gordon won the first 400 back in 1994 and competed in the first 23. In January he drove in the Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona Speedway and also drove the pace car at the 101st Indy 500 in May.
  • Jimmie Johnson, a four-time Brickyard winner, was forced to start from the rear of the 40-car field due to a gear change after qualifying.
  • Busch led every lap in Stage One and also won Stage Two before crashing out of the race while fighting for the lead with Martin Truex.
  • IMS President J. Douglas Boles and Big Machine Label Group President Scott Borchetta announced a three-year sponsorship (2017-19) for the race and weekend entertainment to be called “The Big Machine at 400 Fest and Brickyard 400.”
  • The race was a record-setter: Stopped by three red flags and numerous caution periods (14), set a record for the latest finish in oval track history at IMS (8:57 p.m. ET) as well as for the fewest finishers (14).
  • Sign of the Apocalypse: “The headlights are on in the Pace Car.”
  • Sign of the Apocalypse-2: “The best place for autographs is the Infield Care Center.”

 

 

 

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”