Kellems kicks some tires in Pit Row at Indy 500 “Fast Friday”

Like two ships passing in the night, one car heads into Gasoline Alley, one heads to the track.

“Shade tree mechanic?” I think not!

WNLP story and photos by Mike Kellems
Growing up the the Hoosier State, it is hard not to be aware of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” I’m not a big fan of huge crowds and spending hours in traffic, hours standing in line. Sitting on a metal bench, crammed next to boozed-up race fans is not my idea of a good time. I do enjoy sitting in the comfort of my La-Z-Boy watching the race on my television at home; that is enjoyable. Nonetheless, I’ve always been intrigued by the race and all the hype as teams prepare for the big day.
Much to my good fortune, for many years the Indiana Sheriff’s Association has supplied tickets to departments around the state to attend “Fast Friday” (this year held on May 18). Now, you may think Fast Friday is related to the end of the work week and our collective rush to get home and start the weekend, however I learned that it has another meaning. Indy’s Fast Friday is the last day of practice as the drivers and their teams perfect their vehicles in an effort to be the best before qualifications. A few years ago I was lucky enough to get a couple of tickets and attend for the day. The ISA gets the use of the Chevrolet Suite, which is along “Pit Row” and has a balcony overlooking Gasoline Alley.
Being a supporter of the newly created Indiana Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, I received an invitation to join the group again this year. On Friday myself and a couple of friends, Steve Thorla and Drew Hodge, spent the day at the track. We were able to walk Pit Row and see, up close, the drivers and their teams make adjustments to the cars. We watched in amazement as the cars raced around the track at speeds over 230 miles per hour! We walked Gasoline Alley and watched the crews making adjustments and repairs. I had the opportunity to stand in the winner’s circle where, in a little over a week, the winner of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 will gulp down milk from a glass bottle. I even had a chance to stand trackside on the “Yard of Bricks.” 
Two years ago, as we walked pit row, we rubbed elbows with then-Governor Mike Pence. This year, he was back for a visit while we were there, however this time we didn’t get the chance to rub elbows. The veep and his motorcade did delay our departure by an hour, so there is that. 
Steve, Drew and I all agreed that it was a great day and we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent at the track. I snapped a few photos of the day’s adventure to share with the WNLP readers … enjoy.

Looking south into Gasoline Alley from the backside of the suites along Pit Row.

 

Ever hear of the video game “Mario Cart”? This is the live version! Mario Andretti passed by as we walked Gasoline Alley.

Each race team has a booth along Pit Row like the one pictured here, where they can monitor everything and communicate with their driver.

Tools of the trade at the ready alongside Pit Row.

Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Menards car, signs an autograph for a fan.

Takuma Sato, winner of the 2017 Indy 500, discusses an issue with the mechanics.

These tires are as bald as … well, me! Definitely no good for winter driving in northwest Indiana!

The cockpit of the Lucas Oil car. Not much room for a comfortable ride … luckily it’s only 500 miles!

The steering wheel of the Fuzzy Vodka car looks like something out of a Star Wars spaceship.

My size 14 stompers on the Yard of Bricks.

2 Responses to “Kellems kicks some tires in Pit Row at Indy 500 “Fast Friday””

  1. Terry Scherer

    May 21. 2018

    Nice article and pics. Thanks for your contribution, Mike!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sharon Kirkham

    May 25. 2018

    Mike…Love reading about your adventures. Thank you for the story and great pictures. Keep’em comin🤗

    Reply to this comment

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