The White Elephant…A common way of stating that there really is something we don’t want to acknowledge. Like a kid walking around the baseball field with a booger hanging out of his nose. (Yes this just happened and I think it is also the first time I actually typed the word booger.) Or the really, really hot waitress at the restaurant you can’t keep your eyes off of while your wife keeps asking, “What are you looking at?” Uhhh, really love those boomerangs on the wall…Yeah, that’s it!
However, the White Elephant I am referring to is in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the entry list for the Indianapolis 500. We have been reveling the past few weeks in the joy of receiving breaking news of new rides and return of drivers to the 500 that we all have wanted for some time. Names like Pippa Mann, Buddy Rice, Bruno Junquiera, Alex Lloyd, and Scott Speed have obtained seats for the “month” of May. Part Timers and newcomers such as Tomas Scheckter, Townsend Bell, Dan Wheldon, and Ho Pin Tung add to the mix of drivers looking for those elusive 33 starting spots.
But, if you start doing the math, there are either 40 or 41 drivers, depending on the Sarah Fisher Racing 2nd Car, that will be fighting for those 33 spots over the next week. Some folks are going home. Some may be our favorites. Some, and this could be the worst scenario, may be full time participants in the Series. That my Friends, is the White Elephant.
We know this is going to happen. Bump day is going to be incredible. But there will be some big names that won’t be racing on this last Sunday in May. Crazy things seem to happen at the Speedway. It’s part of the allure of the place and why I think we love it so. One just needs to think back to 1995 when Penske Racing didn’t put a car on the grid. Personally, I still can’t believe this one, and I bet if you ask the Captain, he’ll tell you the same.
My biggest concerns are for the one-offers. They have all worked SO hard to get sponsorship to even get into the race. What happens if they don’t make the race? Does this damage their career for the future? Guys like Davey Hamilton and Dan Wheldon have a pretty good reputation so if they don’t make it, they’ll be back.
Folks like Ho-Pin Tung, Pippa Mann, and Buddy Rice can’t afford to not make the race. I know that Pippa and Buddy want more races this year. Does not qualifying taking them out of getting a ride the rest of the year? We in the Twitterverse know how hard Pippa has worked to get to this point. She is one of the most fan friendly drivers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. But if for some reason she doesn’t make it, do future sponsors just look at this and say, you missed the 500, what are you going to do for me in August? Those of us who attended the original Winter Indy Tweetup have a soft spot for Pippa since she showed up at Fast Times Karting Track to meet a bunch of folks who were absolute strangers. We’ve followed her career and know what she can do on an oval with her Pole at Indy last year and a victory at Kentucky. She belongs in this series and I hope she can prove that this week.
But that Elephant is still lurking…isn’t it….I hate Elephants…