IRL: Indy 500: Pre-race celebrity quotes

88th Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race Celebrity Quotes Sunday, May 30, 2004 MORGAN FREEMAN (Actor, Pace Car driver): "This is one of those times in your life when you realize you're involved in something just a little bit bigger than awesome." (Are...

88th Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race Celebrity Quotes
Sunday, May 30, 2004

MORGAN FREEMAN (Actor, Pace Car driver): "This is one of those times in your life when you realize you're involved in something just a little bit bigger than awesome." (Are your nerves up at all?): "It's building. With me it builds slowly, and I usually don't get the sweats until curtain time. So when they call drivers to the cars, (it's) curtain time." (How has this weekend been for you?): "From getting off the plane to now, it's just been one very nice, pleasant, exciting experience after another." (You're used to acting and performing in front of others, does this compare?): "No, acting is what I do. I'm very comfortable with that. This is the first time being on a racetrack with 350,000 people there, with an extraordinary amount of excitement surrounding the event. You're not a spectator, you're part of it. Just an incredible amount of excitement."

ADAM MESH (Star of "Average Joe."): (What was your impression of coming into this place today?): "You know, it reminded me a lot of when I was going to (University of) Michigan, everyone on game day would walk to the football stadium. The entire campus was moving, and as I was driving here, it was early in the morning; the streets were empty. And once we got here, everyone was here. The whole town was here. I've never seen so many people in one place. That's what makes this special."

JANE PAULEY (NBC): (You're obviously familiar with this event, but how does it feel to be here and see this today?): "Well, I have to confess something. I've never seen the start of the race. I have seen the finish. We used to come, when I was a kid, my father would have a dozen or two dozen people in every year for the race. Racing was huge in our family. But if the weather wasn't good and his guests had to leave, then I got a chance to come. I remember one race we had to sit the next day and watch the trucks dry the track. The best time, I was a sophomore in high school, I got out of school when my father showed up with four tickets. Not only did I get out of school, but I picked three friends and we came to the track, and that's the only race I ever saw the finish of, but I have yet to see the start of the race. I brought family. Two of my three kids are here, my sister and her husband and her two kids, and of course my husband, and they've never seen it. I'm just kind of standing behind them and watching their eyes widen and their jaws drop. Seeing the race for the first time, but through their eyes, makes it even more exciting."

PETER RECKELL ("Bo Brady" on "Days of Our Lives"): "First time here. I am stoked. It's a party. I've been to races before, but this one is the ultimate. I grew up in Michigan. I never came down for the race, but this energy sort of ripples out, so you can feel it from there. It's sort of like a dream to come down here, be right here in the middle of the environment."

NEIL McDONOUGH (Actor): "We just had such a great time last year. It means a lot to me to be here and see all the American flags and such, obviously being Memorial Day weekend and being part of "Band of Brothers" and the opening of the World War II Memorial, I would love to have been there for that, but I was asked to come here first. So we're here, and it's just a really neat weekend to be involved, given our involvement in "Band of Brothers" and the memorial in Washington, D.C. That's kind of the big thing that's been weighing on me. Yesterday, taking the parade around the city, and there's 400,000 people, lots of soldiers, it made me very proud to be an American." (Your impression of this city and this weekend): "Indianapolis is dynamite, not just the architecture. It's just beautiful, feels like such an Americana-type town. But it is a town, it doesn't feel like a big city even though there are a lot of people here, but it feels like a really big, welcoming town, and we've really enjoyed ourselves here the last two years."

WOLFGANG PUCK (Chef): "I think the weekend has been fantastic. I wish we had the same beautiful weather as we had yesterday. Next year we should do the parade the next day. We need the race. It is so exciting to come, when you see the cars and the drivers. It's so exciting. Even without hearing them run, it's such an amazing ambience."

RUPERT BONEHAM ("Survivor"): "I've been coming out here since I was 9 years old in '73, and I fell in love with the race then. Now, just like every good Hoosier boy and girl, you figure out how you can work at the racetrack. Ten years years ago, I figured out how I could work out at the track, and I worked here ever since. Now I'm a VIP out here, (and) it's a wonderful day in May. When the green flag falls, I will be jumping for joy. I'll be on the balcony up in the suite in the (Bombardier) Pagoda hootin' and hollerin'. It will be a good time."

PATRICK DEMPSEY (Actor): "The last time I was here it rained, so I'd better not come anymore so the race can go on as scheduled. It's going to be interesting, I hope we can get the track dried and the temperatures stay up so everybody has a safe race since cold tires always seem to be a problem." (You sound like you follow this sport): "Well, this race in particular, as far back as I can remember. My dad came here in the '50s and '60s, and every year, before they televised it live, we'd listen to most of it on the radio, wait, and then watch it that night to see who would win, and (we) did it every year. Coming here is just a great thing, it's a strange kind of pilgrimage." (Where are you from?): "From Maine. I just love the tradition of the place, how well it's run, and it's just good to see that the energy is coming back. This is my second time coming here. And soon as my daughter gets old enough, it's time to start bringing her. That's what is great about it, the multiple generations that keep coming and coming. It's a warm and inviting place. It's a blast, I've been working on a show with ESPN and had an opportunity to meet a lot of great drivers. They're good people, a lot of great role models, especially in the professional world they live in. Really great to look up to."

JESSE PALMER (NFL quarterback, star of "The Bachelor"): "It's been wild, been great. Had a great time yesterday, great parade, hanging out with a lot of celebrities. Just been awesome. I mean this whole thing, it's very, very well done. It's one of the biggest events in sports, and you can see why." (How has today felt so far, the event?): "I think we started getting an idea of all this yesterday at the parade, to see all the people out. But driving in today, it's so funny, I was thinking of the analogy of it's like walking into a stadium for football. People tailgating; just lots and lots of people. You think, where are all these people? They're coming out of nowhere, here they all are. You know, this rain's going to clear, and it's going to be awesome. First time here, and I'm really excited."

MIKE PATRICK (ESPN): "It's been a terrific weekend. First off, I can't believe the organization, the way you guys (IMS staff) have had everything exactly the way it's supposed to be. And with the size of this, I can't believe that, it's remarkable." (Thoughts on who's going to win this race): "I think it will be very competitive. I'm hoping Buddy Lazier will win since I rode in the two-seater with him."

JAMES GARNER (Actor): "Yeah, I've been here when we've rained out, been here when we've waited it out. We'll wait it out. It's going to be all right. It's always a thrill. My big thing is, I get to see a lot of old friends. I really enjoy it, and of course the racing is spectacular." (What's your pick for the winner?): "I don't pick. Never pick. I just want a good, safe race."

JUDGE REINHOLD (Actor): (The rain has to provide a little damper on your first visit): "Hey, I'm just glad to be here. It's good to be out of L.A. and to be with some real folks."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier