Target Chip Ganassi Racing Indy 500 Blog! Target drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe wrote down some of their thoughts, in their own words, on the activities on and off the track via their personal computers or the handheld...
Target Chip Ganassi Racing Indy 500 Blog!
Target drivers Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe wrote down some of their thoughts, in their own words, on the activities on and off the track via their personal computers or the handheld Blackberry devices throughout the month of May in their quest for the Indianapolis 500 crown on May 29. The following is a complete web log from all three drivers to summarize the team's 2005 Indy 500 adventure.
Ryan Briscoe-#33 Target Toyota
May 8 -- Good day out at the speedway. First laps around the track pretty special. In the end I was up to speed and loving it! Fans were amazing and surprised me with their enthusiasm.
May 9 -- A pretty relaxing day, just a few painful photo shoots and a couple of interviews. No on track activity for me.
May 10 --It was a good day first day on the track with the whole field out there to make this pretty busy at times. We had a good day and we did some good setup work on the car. Arie Luyendyke had been helping me a lot with some coaching and advice around the speedway. He a fantastic guy to be working with and his advice has really been helping me come to grips with the track. Speeds on track are getting faster all the time and it looks like it will be a very fast Indy 500 this year.
May 11-Not a fantastic day for us as we spent most of our time in the garage. When Buddy (Rice) had his accident this morning I ran over a piece of his rear end which put a hole in our tub. After swapping engines to our primary car we got out in the afternoon and did some work on used tyres and race level downforce. On a positive note we saved tyres which will help us in the lead up to qualifying over the next couple of days. It was a funny situation being able to get back to Ganassi headquarters (race shop) during down time for a work out in the gym! It's great being so close to base here.
May 12 - After a very tough day yesterday it was great to have such a good day today where we got a load of work done with good progress towards qualifying. ...but our day didn't get off to a fantastic start as we continued to have brake issues as we'd had yesterday. At one point it looked like Ricky, my chief mechanic, was going to shoot himself. Amongst my crew we've nick named him "GG" for Grumpy Gramps, and sometimes he just needs a hug to warm him up. But honestly, I couldn't ask for a better, more passionate chief mechanic. By the end of the day my car handling was almost spot on and we managed to put in a very solid qualifying simulation with no tow.
May 13 - Appropriately named Fast Friday, today's practice was fast over when Indiana storms came blowing over the Speedway. I put in a few good laps with my T-car before we called it a day. The conditions were tricky with hot and humid air producing low levels of downforce, and fairly strong southerly winds made turns 2 and 3 seem tighter than in past days. I lost count how many times it was said to me today that this was just a typical day of the Indianapolis 500 that everyone experiences every year.
May 14- Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain .. oh yeah more rain... cancel qualifying... no more rain. Welcome to Indiana.
May 15- A bit of an up-side-down day for me, almost literally! During my qualifying attempt my first timed lap was the fastest I'd gone all month, but I could feel we were really close to the limit on downforce levels. On my second green lap the rear came around on me when I made the down shift out of turn 1... which turned out to be quite a roller coaster ride. Whenever you spin at these speeds you always dread the first impact with the wall... when I only lightly brushed the wall I was so relieved and thought "that wasn't so bad", but next thing I felt the car lifting off and I was looking down at the race track below me! I guess I was just lucky not to catch the fence or anything and have the car come back down on all four wheels. Luck didn't stick around though when the track closed for qualifying about 10 seconds before we could go for an attempt in the back up car. Without a time today we'll have to qualify the car next Saturday for one of the tale end positions on the grid, lucky it's a 500 mile race!
May 16- It was nice to finally have a day away from the Speedway to recharge the batteries. I had a fairly relaxing day which included laundry and house work... that was after sleeping in until 10:00amJ. In the afternoon I did a bit of shopping and then met up with my assistant engineer Brad, a friend of his, and Luis Diaz (Grand Am team driver) for a round of golf. I played terribly, definitely need practice. Later we all went to Friendly's at Zionsville for dinner before I retreated home for bed.
May 17 -The big event today was spending the afternoon out at the Kart track with Scott, Luis and Anton. I just had my new Tony Kart sent out from Italy a couple of weeks ago and today was the second time for me to have it out at the track. It was great and I made some good gains with the tuning of my Vortex Rok engine. It's been 4 and a half years since I stopped racing karts and it's great to be back out in one. I love it! When we left the track I went to the Ganassi race shop for a work out in the gym and then helped my crew finish my back up car to have ready at the track tomorrow. I left them at 7.00pm when they were just about finished. What a fantastic group of guys I've got on my car this year! After two days away from the Speedway I'm itching to get back out there. A big week ahead of us!
May 18- It was all about working on race setup for us today and everything ran pretty smoothly. Well almost... we started the day by a having a single attempt pitstop qualifier to get in the pitstop competition on Carb day... the 33 crew couldn't have been more on it but I let them down when the engine stalled on take off... sorry guys. I felt so bad. The Alley Cats have been huge supporters all month and it's great to hear them cheer us on every time we pass through Gasoline Alley to get on track. At the end of the day at around 7pm when most of the paddock had already gone home, the Alley Cats were still there. I went over to have some photos taken with them before heading home myself. Mum and Dad get in tomorrow so I'd better clean the house and make their bed... I might get in trouble if not!!!
May 19-With all the rain and thunderstorms not much was happening at the track today. After a few interviews and time with my crew I left the track early afternoon. After a couple of kilometers down at the Natatorium (swimming pool) I spent a few hours working on my Kart trying to make it look new again. My parents were supposed to arrive at 5:30p but ending up getting in at 10:30p because of storms in Chicago. For Mum and Dad it ended up being a 27 hour trip from Sydney, and to add to that their bags didn't even turn up! Good to have them here for the race though.
May 20- A very good day for us at the Speedway. We did a lot of race setup work and ran in big packs of cars for most of the day. We finished by making one qualify simulation which was very positive for us as we head into qualifying tomorrow.
May 21 -This was my big day for me to make up for what I had lost on Pole day one week earlier. Everything went exactly as we had planned and for the conservative approach we took to qualifying today we were very happy with the speeds we put in and outcome of the day. Kenny Brack was amazingly quick, but we were the best of the rest which is all we could have hoped for. Indy 500... here we come.
May 22 - I got the day off as we decided not to do any running out at the Speedway this day. Instead, I went out to the Go Kart track at New Castle where a big meeting was being held which even some of my Italian friends were present for. In the afternoon we had a BBQ to celebrate Anton's birthday as we watched the final stages bumping on ESPN. I was sorry to see ArieLuyendyk Jr. not make it into the field.
May 23- It was a huge day which included the big photo shoot in Times Square New York and then Scott, Darren and myself went to the Target House in Memphis for the unveiling of our Indy 500 race helmets which were designed by some of the kids under long term treatment at the Target House. It was a really special feeling to see all these kids being so strong and putting on such cheerful and happy faces.
May 24 - Fastest Rookie of the Year award Day! The luncheon was good, food was great. I spent some time at the track but not much was happening so soon after I went home to then have a session in the gym.
May 25 -It was Community Day at the Speedway which meant lots of fans in the garage area and pitlane all day. It was quite fun and gave a nice feel to the place. To start the day I was downtown to take part in the unveiling of Dixon's 2003 Target championship winning car... hanging 21 stories up the side of a building! That was cool. Later on at the track I took the opportunity to take a peak in the Hall of Fame and check out some of the history in there. For the rest of the day it was interviews and autographs at the track. It was beautiful and sunny so I was taking it in as much as possible.
May 26-This was a reasonably fun and relaxed day with the highlight definitely being the Indy 500 Fashion Parade at the Westin downtown. We all got dressed up in fancy jackets walked down the strip with beautiful women, it was great! The rest of the day was a bit of a bore in comparison. One good thought was to keep in mind that I'd be back on track the next day finally!
May 27- Carb Day! This was a cool day! Plenty of race fans and heaps going on all day. Practice was good and my car felt ready to race. We didn't do many laps and just made sure everything was running smoothly as we head towards race day. I had a lot of appearances during the day and lots of fun watching the entertaining fans. Pitstop competition was great to watch but it was a shame for Scott to not make it through to the final. The Hornish Penske combo was too strong today. Anyway, I was impressed with the whole Indy 500 fever today and can't wait until race day.
May 28-The day before the race and we were still as busy as ever. At the track at 8:30am for autograph session, then public drivers meeting, and then we went downtown for the parade. This was really cool and I was amazed at how many fans were lining the streets for us! I took my Mum and Aunty on the parade car with me which they enjoyed a lot! In the evening we had a cocktail party down at the Marriott downtown for Bob Ulrich from Target, and then we went to the Ganassi Race Shop where the team had organized a concert for sponsors with Collective Soul performing. After introducing the band and staying for a couple of songs I finally got home around 9pm for a good night's sleep before race day.
May 29- Race Day- At 6.45am I had the police escort from home to the Speedway and by 7.05 and was in the paddock. The police escort was cool and liked to show off by standing on his bike at about 80mph. All good fun. At the track I could feel the tension of the big race. There was lots of media around and you could see in people's eyes the anticipation. I felt good. My most memorable moment was when I walked out onto pitlane with Scott, Darren and Chip and looked up into the grandstands... I had never seen so many people in one place at one time. For the rest of it everything seemed like another race with a few more emotions. I could see that my parents were nervous, but it was good to have them there. The race itself went well for me and it was good to get a top ten finish. Unfortunately I ran a lot of the race one lap down, but in doing so got to race with the leaders a lot. I had a great time and can't wait for my next Indy 500.