INDIANAPOLIS, May 25, 2003 - They were damaged goods on arrival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How are the walking wounded doing today? For starters, Gil de Ferran, winner of the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race no longer suffers from the...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 25, 2003 - They were damaged goods on arrival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. How are the walking wounded doing today?
For starters, Gil de Ferran, winner of the 87th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race no longer suffers from the headaches and backaches he had after his accident with Michael Andretti at the Phoenix round.
My back wasn't hurting," de Ferran acknowledged. "Maybe it was something to do with the neck. Behind my shoulders is really painful," he said. But perhaps not tonight, now that he owns the winning car for the Indy 500.
Third finisher Tony Kanaan, who crashed with Scott Dixon at Twin Ring Motegi last month didn't have pain in the left arm he's had in a brace since arriving at the 2.5-mile oval early in May. "Honestly, my leg was the biggest problem [after the accident] and it was by the time we got to here today, my leg was 100%. My arm wasn't in any pain, but I obviously always have this concern. It's much weaker than my right arm.
"I basically wore my right shoulder off trying to hold the steering wheel with one hand, and just having this hands-on the steering, toward the end of the race I started to get a huge pain on my right shoulder. I had to drive with my left arm, so basically it's okay."
Dixon, despite his little incident on the front straight had no real trouble with his right arm today. While he had a huge crash earlier this month, teammate Tomas Scheckter suffered no ill effects during the month of May. Or none that he wanted to talk about.
During the race, Doug Hardwick, vent man for Shinji Nakano's #54 Beard Papa's Dallara/Honda was thought to be injured in a pit road accident. Hardwick was hit by the right rear tire of Nakano's car as the driver exited the pits, and was taken to Methodist Hospital. He was released after examinations to his knee in good condition.
None of the drivers involved in accidents today suffered injury. Not Jaques Lazier, who was caught up in Richie Hearn's clout of the turn 2 wall, nor Hearn suffered injury. Both were released and cleared to drive after a short examination.
Scott Sharp suffered no injuries in his single-car accident, nor did Dan Wheldon after his aerobatics in turn 4. Both were cleared to drive and released quickly from the infield care center, according to Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway medical director.
Overall, this has been a safe month of May, with only Arie Luyendyk having to stand down from the Indy 500 due to injury. There have been plenty of wall smacks but, thanks to the SAFER wall barriers and the outstanding physical conditioning of Indy Racing League IndyCar drivers, the show has gone on without delay and, other than the Dutchman's resignation from his ride, without the need for stand-in drivers.
This is testimony to the new rules ordered by the Indy Racing League for better chassis from Dallara and Panoz G Force and new, reliable engines produced by Chevrolet, Honda and Toyota. The 2003-spec gearboxes from Xtrac have worn well through the initial four races of the season. Twelve events remain on the calendar and, for the League, driver and vehicle safety remain paramount.
The same might not be said for the denizens of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gift shops, which were ravaged by former United States president Bill Clinton today. Clinton took advantage of the IMS Gift Shop trailer just outside the Media Center, stopping to purchase a number of IndyCar Series die-cast models and Indianapolis 500 shirts. Mr. Clinton also received an Indianapolis 500 hat as a gift from an unidentified fan.