IRL: Indy 500: Opening Day preview

Indianapolis Star Opening Day full of Indy 500 practice, activities. Children admitted free; Adult 2-for-1 coupons available. INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 30, 2003 -- The sights, sounds and ambience of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ...

Indianapolis Star Opening Day full of Indy 500 practice, activities. Children admitted free; Adult 2-for-1 coupons available.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 30, 2003 -- The sights, sounds and ambience of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway return for the 87th time Sunday, May 4 with Indianapolis Star Opening Day -- the first day of practice for the drivers of the IRL IndyCar Series as they prepare for the 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

Children age 12 and younger will be admitted to the Speedway grounds free of charge on Indianapolis Star Opening Day. Tickets for adults are $5 and are available on a two-for-one basis by presenting a coupon from an advertisement running May 4 in The Indianapolis Star. The coupons also are available on The Star's Web site, www.indystar.com.

In addition to IndyCar Series practice from 1-6 p.m. (EST), a full range of family activities are planned, primarily in the morning:

-- The first 3,000 fans to the Pagoda Plaza area will receive a free Indianapolis 500 car flag courtesy of The Star. Public gates open at 9 a.m.

-- An autograph session with IndyCar Series drivers will take place from 11 a.m.-noon at the Bombardier Pagoda Plaza, located behind the Speedway's 13-story Bombardier Pagoda control tower. The list of driver participants tentatively includes: Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, Tomas Scheckter, Tora Takagi, Felipe Giaffone, Buddy Rice, Jaques Lazier, Vitor Meira, Tony Renna, Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp.

-- The Mayor's Breakfast track lap also takes place at 11 a.m. More than 30 mayors from communities around Indiana will be guests of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, who will wave the green flag at 1 p.m. to start practice for the "500."

-- The 500 Festival Princess Coronation -- during which the 500 Festival Queen will be announced -- is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. on the Pagoda Plaza Stage.

-- At 12:40 p.m., official Indianapolis 500 opening ceremonies will take place, featuring remarks by Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet officials, and Mayor Peterson. Following their remarks, 2002 Miss Indiana Tangra Riggle will sing the National Anthem.

-- At 12:50, the five former Indianapolis 500 winners competing in the 2003 Indianapolis 500 -- Helio Castroneves, Kenny Brack, Arie Luyendyk, Buddy Lazier and Al Unser Jr. -- will together take the first ceremonial lap of practice.

The five former winners and a host of the world's best drivers -- including Michael Andretti, Sam Hornish Jr., Scott Sharp and Sarah Fisher -- will get down to business as practice gets underway at 1 p.m. for the world's greatest auto race.

The 87th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 25. A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

-ims-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice , Tony Renna , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira