Luyendyk, Calkins Dodge Raindrops To Turn Laps At Indy INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2001 - Thor, the Viking god of thunder, outdid the noise of racing engines Oct. 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But on a quirky day of testing, Arie...
Luyendyk, Calkins Dodge Raindrops To Turn Laps At Indy
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2001 - Thor, the Viking god of thunder, outdid the noise of racing engines Oct. 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But on a quirky day of testing, Arie Luyendyk and Buzz Calkins managed to squeeze in two hours of practice between thunderstorms.
And, unbelievably, Richard Ray "Dick" Harroun, the 86-year-old son of Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in 1911, showed up in the pits for the first time since 1990.
Equally amazing was that the sun also made an unexpected appearance in the middle of the afternoon.
Rain that washed out Tuesday's scheduled session continued overnight, and it wasn't until 1 p.m. (EST) that the track was dried sufficiently to allow two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Luyendyk and 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Calkins to run a combined total of 83 laps between 1:10 p.m. and 3:20 p.m.
Then raindrops began to fall, and wicked weather attacked from the southwest.
Speed was not the aim of either driver. Luyendyk wanted to get a feel for the car while testing for G Force with Treadway Racing before returning to drive in his 17th Indianapolis 500 next May. Calkins wanted to see if the changes made during the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season would help make his Bradley Motorsports car more competitive in 2002.
Luyendyk, in his first on-track appearance since last May, topped out at 217.908 mph, while Calkins had a top lap of 213.410.
"It's pretty easy to get back in and to adapt real quick," Luyendyk said. "Pretty much got up to speed pretty quick. But we're struggling with the weather. It's pretty windy, the air is really thick, still running quite a bit of downforce and trying different things for G Force. "This is really a G Force test, so we've tried a different nose and other things."
Calkins had intended to switch to the Heritage Motorsports Infiniti-powered G Force after practicing in his Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Oldsmobile-powered Dallara, but the thunderous storms never allowed him to get that machine on the track.
"Basically, we just came out the last time before wintertime rolled around to see where we were with the car, see where we were with a lot of changes through the year since May and come back with that," Calkins said. "And also we wanted to try to go and run the G Force with the Nissan around a little bit to see if we can tell the differences on that."
Calkins said the team hopes to make an engine decision - Chevrolet or Infiniti - by the first of the year.
Midway through the session while clouds parted briefly, Dick Harroun and Mary Alice, his wife of 62 years, were escorted into the pits. They had attended a dedication ceremony of a Civil War "Underground Railroad" Memorial in Michigan and chose to stop by the Speedway on their return trip home to Fort Pierce, Fla.
"I worked for Holley Carburetor (in Detroit) for 46 years and retired in 1983," Harroun said. "My wife and I were married in 1939. We were high-school sweethearts."
Harroun took a particular interest in Calkins and recorded pictures of him on the track and in the pits. Calkins is an Indianapolis 500 history buff and has a huge picture of the start of the 1911 race in his apartment.
Harroun, the only surviving son of the first Indy winner, also got an opportunity to drive a van around the Speedway oval.