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.
Scott Dixon-#9 Target Toyota
May 8 -- Well, the first day back at the Indianapolis Speedway for the month of May. Not much going on. Was at the track today to help out teammate Ryan Briscoe complete his rookie orientation. It was great to walk back down Gasoline Alley and out to the pits. As usual the Alley Cats were there to give a little of their own encouragement. It was back to my bus (motorcoach). Unfortunately I had to empty the shitter. Not something I enjoy. I think that was all the duties for my day. Ryan did well and the 33 team finished the day up early as well.
May 9 -- Second day for me with no on track activity. Spent a few hours getting some camera shots and interviews out of the way... then on to lunch. Today we had Lasagna. Took some time with the boys (crew guys) as they arrived with our cars for on-track activity tomorrow. They looked worn out. It has been a rough few weeks for them. The weather once again was very good. It seems like it is going to be a hot week. Looking forward to get on track tomorrow.
May 10 - This morning I got to the track at 9 am to do the Bob and Tom show. I like to do that show a few times during the year because those guys are always a good laugh. After that, I went straight to the drivers meeting and then to an engineering meeting with my team to discuss our plan for the first week leading up to qualifying. Practice started at noon. We were running the Dallara for the first time at the Speedway, but we had a frustrating day because we never got our speed up. We changed a lot of things on the car, but even by the end of the day we were still pretty slow. Practice ended and I did a quick interview with Derek Daly on Wish TV Channel 8 News, called a few radio stations in New Zealand and then headed home for dinner and to watch the show "House." That show is great because the head doctor is such a smartass.
May 11 - We switched back to the Panoz G-force today so we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the chassis again since it's been awhile since we've ran at IMS. After the first five runs or so we weren't happy with the car, so we sat down for a few hours and made some pretty big changes. When we got back out we picked up a ton of speed and I had a lot more confidence in the car. The progress was good, especially for the crew because they've been working really long hours, so it was nice to see the guys happy. We finished the day towards the top of the speed chart - that was a good change from yesterday. It rained around 5:30pm and ended the day early, so I went home. My mom and my grandpa got in from New Zealand last night and today was my mom's birthday, so my girlfriend and I took my family out for dinner at P.F. Chang's. My fortune cookie said, "You will inherit great wealth," so maybe that was a sign for the 500!
May 12 - It was an early morning because we did the WIBC radio show downtown Indy on Monument Circle at 7:30am. I got to the track around 8:30am -- way too early -- so myself and one of the mechanics decided to mess with Darren Manning's golf cart and take one of the spark plugs off. He drove around all morning thinking that he'd broken his golf cart because it would only go at walking speed. I played along for a while and pretended that mine was messed up too, but we eventually told him what we did after we saw him trying to push the golf cart to get it going. It was really windy out at the track today, so it made it difficult to trim the car out. Our speeds today were up and down, we played pretty conservative, but we'll be more aggressive tomorrow to prepare for qualifying on Saturday. There were a lot of kids out at the track today, so we signed a lot of autographs for them. We've had really good crowds all week, so hopefully a lot of people will come out this weekend for qualifying too.
May 13- Fast Friday. The day before qualifying we normally try to find a little bit more speed. It was a hot, windy and humid day. We did a couple of runs in the car, but the car wasn't very good. We weren't really concerned because we didn't think that weather was anything like the weather we were going to qualify in. It started raining, so I hung out in the team transporter for a few hours until they called an end to practice. Later that day I went to Tom Carnegie's party at the Pagoda Pavilion. That old bus has been there for 60 years! Met up with some friends for sushi that night and was in bed at 11pm.
May 14- Saturday. Pole Day. The forecast was so bad for today, so we pretty much knew from the start that everything was going to be called off. I still went to the track early for an 8:30am meeting, just in case, but it rained for the next five hours. All of the guys on the team were really bored, so we played "Soldier of Fortune" in the transporters to pass the time. A bunch of the guys have that game, so we tend to all play when we go out of town for tests and stuff. It's a funny game, you just go around and try to shoot your opponents or blow them up. I went home when they called off pole day and worked on my go kart for a few hours, had dinner at Mama Carolla's with some friends, watched a little bit of the NASCAR race and was in bed early.
May 15- Sunday. New Pole Day! Another early start -- up at 6:30am and at the track at 7:30am. Took my dogs down to the track for the day. They're pretty good, they just hang out in the motorhome all day. I had a team meeting at 8:30am. All of us TCGR drivers were in the group 1 practice at 9am. I struggled with understeer pretty bad and ended up doing the second open session to try and tune the car a little bit more, but we were having the same problems. For my first qualifying attempt, we made some subtle changes to the car -- or so we thought they were subtle changes -- but my car was so loose when I went out, that I had to wave off that attempt so I didn't put it in the wall. We waited until there was a break in the qualifying line and went back out to practice again. The car was better, so we got in line to make an attempt. We had a solid run, but we were definitely more conservative than we had planned on being because we had some handling issues. Also, the team has crashed a lot of cars this month, so we figured we'd play it on the safer side and at least have a complete car at the end of the day. At the end of the day, Manning and I had qualified, but Briscoe just missed the gun, so he'll have to qualify next weekend. Went to dinner at Bazbeaux with some friends, had a few beers, then went home to watch Grey's Anatomy.
May 16- Monday. Went and worked out at the Sports Zone with my trainer, Jim Leo. We lifted, did some circuit training and did a little bit of boxing. I had to drop my car off at the Lexus dealer to get some maintenance work done. Came home and worked on my go kart so I could take it out on Tuesday. In the afternoon I went and did a 30-mile bike ride, then met up with my friend and crew member Blair and his girlfriend for dinner at La Piedad, a Mexican place in Broad Ripple. Ate the chicken fajitas of course. Then we went to Connor's and had a few beers to celebrate a friend's birthday.
May 17- Tuesday. I went and worked out at NIFS (National Institute of Fitness and Sports) downtown with my trainer and also Wade Cunningham. Wade is a kiwi also and he's running in the Infiniti Pro Series this year. We did some speed workouts, rock climbing, lifted and did some medicine ball work. Then I came home, got my go kart and went to New Castle go kart track with my friends Anton, Luis Diaz (Grand Am Sportscar driver) and Briscoe until late in the day. My parents came out with my grandpa and watched us too. Then I went home and had to go help my girlfriend's mom move. Had some Taco Bell for dinner when we finished and stopped by Costco to stock up on some toilet paper. We've been using tissues for a week because we're lazy. Came home and watched the show "House" and passed out early.
May 18th. Back on track today. Started the morning as usual. Got up around 7am. Watched a little of the local morning news show. Left to the track and got there just before 10am for the team meeting. The weather was pretty nice today. We just needed to work on race setup so we got going right at noon. We stopped for a little around 2pm just to put the car back on the set up pad and make some changes for the afternoon. The car was a little better and we ended the day just before 6. On the way home I went to my friend Blair's house to check out a bathroom he was remodeling. Came home after that, watched some TV and went to bed.
May 19. We got rained out today at the track. I went down there anyway and had lunch around 11 with the crew guys. Everyone sat around for a few hours waiting for them to cancel practice for the day. I left shortly after and had to go get fitted for a new suit for the Indy 500 banquet next week. I was exhausted so I came home and relaxed for awhile and then went to the Pacers game to watch Reggie's last game. Came home around 10pm, watched some tv and went to bed.
May 20. It was still a little cloudy in the morning, but it wasn't raining and they had a chance to dry the track. We worked on race setup all day, made some good gains. The car felt comfortable, but we were still struggling for out right speed. Ended the day right at 6 and went straight home. Went to dinner at Shanghai Lil with some friends and ran into Roger Yasakawa who was also having dinner with friends. Pretty slow night after that. Came home and hung out with my dogs, watched a little of the Busch race and passed out on the couch around 10pm. 21st Got to the track at about 10am to watch Ryan Briscoe qualify and put some more miles on my car and try to improve our race setup. Finished around 4pm and my crew did somewhere around 40 pit stops to practice for the pit stop competition on Carb Day. Had dinner at the track with the boys, went home and watched some TV and stopped by a friend's house around 9pm. Went to a new club in downtown Indy and ran into a bunch of fellow IRL and IPS drivers. All in all it was a good night.
May 22nd-Today was bum day. I didn't have anything on my agenda except for keeping my couch company. I laid on there with my dogs until about 4 in the afternoon when I finally decided to take a shower and get on with my day. I went to my friend's house - another fellow kiwi - for a cookout for his birthday and did a good job of holding down the couch there as well. After two hotdogs, a hamburger, and a piece of chicken I was ready for bed! On the way home I had to pick up my car from downtown where I had left it the night before, then came home and watched the season finale of Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.
May 23rd -Today was very busy. I got up at 5:45am to go to the airport for our trip to NYC for media with all 33 drivers. The plane ride was about 2 and a half hours. It was good time for me to get a little more sleep. We arrived in NJ and drove across to Times Square for our photo's. All of the drivers in the starting grid for the 500 had to get in our race suits and take photos. There were a lot of people looking at us funny. At least there were another 32 looking stupid as well. We then had lunch at the Marriott over the road and had a 30min spot with the media. Myself and the other TCGR drivers then headed back to the airport and jumped on our team plane to Memphis. About 15 to 20 media people also joined us on our little journey to Target House. Chip must have asked them to conserve fuel as it was almost a 4 hr trip. We arrived a little late but we got to meet all the kids at Target House and presented the winning helmet designs. The kids were all so happy to see them and I must say I felt pretty good. We headed back to Indy and got in pretty late, about 10:30pm, so I was exhausted.
May 24th- This morning started early with the Bob and Tom National radio show. As normal... it was very funny. We talked a lot about the Target House helmets we will be wearing for the race. After that I headed to the Monon Trail for a bike ride and put in just over 30 miles. It was nice to be out on the bike since I've been so busy the last week or so. I got some lunch at my favorite mexican fast food Chipotle. Then it was off to the Ganassi shop for some media from NZ and Aussie. Had to go down to the track to pick up some unpaid speeding tickets and send them out asap since they're almost overdue. On my way home I dropped my bike off to get a service and a new part that had broken. I had a few radio interviews then went to my parents apartment for dinner. Tonight is also the front row party they have at a local bar near my house (you can also attend if you are not on the front row). After that it was off to bed.
25th-Today was an early start because we had to be in downtown Indy at 7:15am for a PR stunt. We unveiled my No. 9 car hanging from the 21st floor of one of the tallest buildings downtown, and had stunt guys in Target Chip Ganassi Racing firesuits that were suspended from the top of the building. It was a really cool event because I've never seen anyone do anything like it. We had a lot of interviews on TV and radio from down there and finished around 9am and headed to the track. I helped WISH TV Channel 8 in a pit stop competition. It was pretty funny and they also won, which was even better. We then headed to the pagoda plaza for some remote control car action. The TCGR drivers had a 3 minute race for some fans. Manning lasted a lap or so before he broke his, but I ended up winning...I was the only one still running though! We had a 1hr autograph session at the team garage. When I left the track I stopped by Marsh to get some food for a bit of a party at my house. I invited a lot of Kiwi's that were in town for the race, including a New Zealand author, Sandy Myrhe, that has been writing a book on my racing season this year. After the cookout I headed down to Club 6 for AJ Foyt IV's birthday party, stayed a few hours and hung out with some of the other drivers there before heading home at midnight.
26th-Finally we had a late starting day, so I got to sleep in which was much needed. My first event wasn't until noon, and it was the CARA Charities Fashion Show. This is the first time that I've participated in the show because in the past I've either had other events going on at the same time or just didn't end up wanting to do it. It turned out to be a lot of fun because a bunch of drivers that I'm good friends with all came out to do the show and it wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be! All the drivers got to pick out fur coats for their walk down the runway, so I had a very large brown fur coat made out of beaver. I guess I looked like a bear! It was a lot of fun and raises money for a really good cause, so I'll probably do it next year again. Couldn't avoid going to the track of course, so I went back over to IMS for an interview session before going home to relax and watched some TV. Off to the speedway again for an IRL welcome party that they held for the first time at the Speedway Musuem. Was so hungry so my girlfriend and a few others went to get sushi at Kona grill. Their shrimp tempura roll is too good.
27th Carb day. Looking forward to being back in the car, since we've had quite a few days off now. Had a drivers meeting at 9am, engineering meeting at 10am, and final practice at 11am which went so so. The car was not as good as we had hoped. Actually, all the TCGR cars were 17th and back, so none of us were too happy after that session. We knew what we had to change and we were confident for the race, so we just put it behind us and started concentrating for race day. The track was packed with people, which was great to see. Really smart move by the IRL to move Carb Day to Friday instead of Thursday like it's always been. The crowd looked to be having a very good time as well, and plenty of beer was being consumed! The No. 9 car team were also in the pit stop competion. We won against Kannan and made it to the semi final, but got beat out by Hornish in that round. The guys did an awesome job though, so we tried our best. We had another team meeting to go over a few things for the race and then had a cocktail party for Pioneer. Firestone had a party straight after that a few blocks down the road, so I stopped in there for a few minutes. We were done pretty early so I went to my Kiwi friend Ziggys 8th annual Indy party at his house in Speedway.
May 28th- Another autograph session at 9am, seems like there are always so many during the month of May. At 11am was the public drivers meeting at the Speedway where all of the fans can come out and watch our drivers meeting from the grandstands. I never think the meetings are that interesting because I've sat through so many of them, but it's amazing how many fans turn up for it. We then got on a bus and headed downtown for the 500 festival parade. The weather was great so there were a ton of fans in the crowd. We rode on the parade cars for about 2 hrs through the downtown streets and had a lot of fun and got a little burnt. We then had a little break before the Target party at 5:30, so we headed home and my manager, Stefan Johannson, stopped by because he was staying at my house that night. Around 5:30pm I went to the Marriott downtown for Bob Ulrich's party, the Target CEO. It's always good to see Bob and his friends because they're such laid back, nice people. His parties are always informal too, which is nice for sponsors to let us do. I left the party around 7:30 and had to go to the TCGR workshop for another party and to introduce the band playing a private concert, Collective Soul. We listened for a little while and talked to some of the guests. Myself, Darren and our girlfriends then had a speedy police escort down to the speedway to stay in our motor homes. If you don't use a police escort it takes hours to get into the track because there are tons of drunk people partying in the streets and the traffic gets all backed up. We arrived at the track around 9 ish and Darren realized he had left the keys to his motorhome back in his car at his house. Good thing he's pretty small because we ended up pushing him up through the trash door opening that leads into the motor home. It was so funny to see, I wish I had my camera!
May 29. Boom! What a way to start the day at 5am with the cannon going off at IMS. Luckily I'm a good sleeper and went back to bed until 8am. Had some blueberry pancakes, went to a team meeting, followed by a Pioneer appearance. Walked out to Gasoline Alley with Chip, Briscoe and Manning around 11am for driver introductions then headed to my car for the start of the race. I had a really slow start at the beginning of the race and dropped back to about 17th. The car was pretty good though and we were able to move up to 9th, but midway through the race Richie Hearn and I got together and were both taken out of the race. Got cleared at the medical center and went up to the Target suites and had a few beers and watched the rest of the race. That's the first time in my life that I was actually saying, "Go Dan Wheldon." Left the track and picked up some McDonald's for dinner. Got home and we were locked out of our house because someone had locked the inside garage door which we don't carry keys for. Waited around for the locksmith and invited some friends over to hang out once we actually got in. Manning came over with Briscoe to pick everyone up in his motor home. We were using it as the "party bus" for the night, so it took us downtown to Helio's birthday party at Club 6. Hung out there the rest of the night and had too many drinks. Just 11 more months until we get to do it all again.