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Indy 500 News And Notes

Danica Patrick completed her racing career in the 102nd Indianapolis 500. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Danica Patrick completed her racing career in the 102nd Indianapolis 500. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

Danica Patrick gave a somewhat confusing press conference after her race/career- ending crash on Lap 67. First there were sound problems as IndyCar fought to get the sound adjusted, then after having to wait in the hallway for several minutes, Patrick gave what some thought were confusing answers to the few questions that were asked. “Let me just talk…Definitely not a great ending, but I kind of said before I came here that I feel like if it’s a compete disaster, ‘complete’ like as not in the ballpark at all, look silly, then people might remember that. If I win, people will remember that. But anything in between might just be a little part of a big story. So, I kind of feel like that’s how it is, you know…Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was ok, a lot of it was tough to drive…Take my mic away, I’ll leave. I don’t even want to be here because I’m pretty sad. I guess I’ll stop there…I was nervous, but I found myself on the grid most of the time feeling confused. What part of prerace were we in? I was like, I don’t remember this. When are taps? When is the anthem?” She was gracious about thanking her fans and sponsor (Go Daddy) and ended with a sort-of note to the media. “Thank you, guys. (I) appreciate everything. I’ll miss you, most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.” Confusing? Somewhat. Bittersweet? Probably mostly that.

  • It was a tough job that 2017 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi faced starting in the middle of the back row and being named the favorite to win the race on a local TV pre-race show. The former F1 driver and California native managed to get to the front on Lap 173 after racing the leaders hard as he passed high and low with daring moves. “I can’t help but wish those cautions hadn’t come near the end. It was a team effort and they gave me opportunities to get to the front and compete for the win. We had momentum, but the cautions slowed that down.” Rossi gained 28 spots by starting 32nd and finishing fourth. Graham Rahal also had a very positive race, starting 30th and finishing tenth after running as high as sixth.
  • Ed Carpenter is an Indianapolis native with his team’s shop nearby. A win here at his local track, IMS, would mean a lot to him for that reason. He had the pole-winning car under him today but finished second.” This was the best shot I’ve had at this. We were consistent and performed well through the whole month. This was a sort of spring-board for the team and we thought our speed was pretty good,” the driver/owner said. “My car seemed to pick up a little more understeer as the day went on. We couldn’t seem to make enough adjustments to overcome that. Clean air was also a problem. In the last segment a green stretch, instead of a caution, would have been better, “he lamented, “but if you have a good car you should be rewarded by being able to separate from the others; we couldn’t do that.”
  • Rookie of the Race Robert Wickens was happy to finish in the top 10, but his early race success had given the Canadian hope for even more. “The race was a real emotional roller coaster. We picked some off at the start and were making great progress,” the first year Indy Car driver explained after starting 18th. “We were up to 12th/13th and pitted, hoping others would follow; most didn’t. That lost us tack position and we were stuck in the back. We had nothing to lose as the race wound down, so we stuck on new tires on a restart and moved from 19th to sixth. I was feeling kind of down, so I was glad those last ten laps came at the end.”
  • When someone mentioned to winning team owner Roger Penske that three of his four drivers were from outside of the U.S., the Captain explained that, “I don’t look at their passports when we hire them.”
  • The 500 field was truly an international one this year with 19 drivers coming from outside the U. S. At one point in the race, drivers from seven nations and four continents had led the race.
  • The Indianapolis Speedway Museum has featured curated displays each year commemorating various teams and drivers. The past years’ museum subjects included AJ Foyt and Team Penske, while the Unser family is the honored group in 2018. We’ve been told by Fred Nation that the 2019 exhibit will honor Mario Andretti and celebrate the 50th anniversary of his 1969 500 win. Nation is a member of the museum’s Board of Directors and a long-time IMS executive vice-president closely involved with the Hulman-George family. We’ve also been told that funds are being sought to expand and update the present museum building but keep it at its present site inside the track.
  • Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter, returning three-time race winner Helio Castroneves and retiring Danica Patrick received the loudest ovations from the crowd during prerace introductions.
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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.”