IRL: Indy500: Buzz Calkins

The morning of the Indianapolis 500 is one of the most nerve-wracking moments of a race driver's career. The anticipation and trepidation of the world's most famous auto race can have a major impact on what a driver can eat without upsetting his...

The morning of the Indianapolis 500 is one of the most nerve-wracking moments of a race driver's career. The anticipation and trepidation of the world's most famous auto race can have a major impact on what a driver can eat without upsetting his stomach. Accompanying that is the need to balance the proper nutrition and liquid intake to physically support him for the duration of the event. Bradley Food Marts/ Sav-O-Mat driver Buzz Calkins calls-upon a unique combination of graham crackers, bananas, power bars, Gatorade and water to sustain him for the '500.'

Buzz Calkins is the only driver in this year's Indianapolis 500 that holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), a degree completed last year while competing in the Northern Light Series fulltime. Many ask why a successful race driver, already holding an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in economics and history, would return to school to pursue a degree that, if all goes well, he will never need. The main reason for returning for his MBA, at one of the country's premier management schools, the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, was for something to fall back on. Calkins has no plans of retiring any time soon but has given himself the opportunity for the long-away future date when he does.

"All too often I think athletes are short sighted and don't think much about the future," offered Calkins. "I learned a lot during the two-year program that will hopefully make the transition from racing into the real world much easier. I have also been able to apply much of what I learned into the running of Bradley Motorsports which most people probably wouldn't expect."

Should Buzz Calkins win the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 he will be only the third driver in the 85-year history of the Indy 500 to reach victory lane at the age of 30. Pat Flaherty won his only Indy in 1956 and, in 1992, Al Unser Jr. won his first at age 30.

The quickest four-laps of qualifying the Denver-resident has ever run here at Indianapolis were turned in 1996. The average, made in the same turbocharged Reynard-Cosworth in which he won the IRL's first race, was 229.013 mph.

Buzz Calkins, driver
(about the month):
"I think the month has been pretty self-explanatory for us. It has been quiet except for qualifying. We were pretty disappointed with 'Pole Day' but other than that it has been pretty good. We are looking forward to racing the Bradley car on Sunday. I think we have a real good race car."

(about his feeling for race day):
"I think we just want to go out and have a good solid finish up close to the front as possible. Do I think we have a chance of winning, yes. We definitely have a chance of a top-three, top-five and I think we definitely need to go out there and make as few mistakes as possible, and take our time. I think we have a good car. Everything is in place and if we can get some luck going on our side, and some things happen for us during the race we should be in pretty good shape."

(about the start of the Indy 500):
"The start at Indianapolis is different from all other races. It is the only track that we start the cars three wide and is probably the fastest start that we have all year. Since the track hasn't been run on for three days, there is dust being kicked up everywhere. The further back you start, the more turbulence there is which actually takes most of the air off of the wings making the car hard to control. It is definitely the craziest lap we have all season."

(about the race strategy):
"I think there are different periods of the race that you push the car harder. I think at the beginning of the race, for the first 100 miles you push the car a lot harder. Then you kind of get into a rhythm, which maybe isn't as hard, maybe 95 percent of what you'd normally run. And then, at the end of the race, the last 100 miles it changes again. That's kind of the approach we want to take: go through the first period and gain our position to a place where we feel like we're comfortable and within striking distance and settle down; and then restart that back up at the last part of the race."

(about the affect of winning in the IRL): "I think winning would take the monkey off our back big time. And I think that was the goal going into this year to win a race and hopefully be able to finish in the top-five in points. That was kind of like the minimum goal I wanted to set and I won't be happy unless we actually attain that."

David Cripps, team manager and engineer
(about the preparations for the race): "We're good to go. bring it on. The strategy for Bradley Motorsports will be just to go fast and win."

Todd Tapply, chief mechanic
(about the readiness of the team for the race): "The Bradley Food Marts/ Sav-O-Mat car is ready to go. We have about 40 hours in it the last few days tearing it down and building it back up. There is only one race [the zMAX 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway where the car finished third] on this car so it wasn't too bad getting it ready. I think this is going to be a really good race car on Sunday."

-Bradley Motorsports

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Al Unser Sr. , Pat Flaherty