Captain's Corner: Castroneves on the magic of Indianapolis

As part of Motorsport.com’s content partnership with Team Penske, we will provide fans with exclusive content each week from the organization’s drivers, crew members and staff throughout the 2017 season.

Captain's Corner: Castroneves on the magic of Indianapolis
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

This week, Penske IndyCar Series driver, Helio Castroneves, offers a first-person diary talking about the magic of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There is no place like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are several great tracks around the world. Ask any race car driver or race fan and the list is probably endless. Whenever this driver gets asked which is the greatest, the answer is simple – Indianapolis.

Why? First, it’s the tradition. The first thing people see coming in the main tunnel is the IMS Museum. There, many of the greats are immortalized – the great drivers, moments and artifacts from them. The list is truly amazing.

Second, it’s the challenging nature of the track. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much. It’s symmetrical with four sweeping corners with long straightaways, but don’t be fooled by that. The speeds of IndyCars at this place are amazing and everything affects it – the temperature; the wind; the specific track conditions on any given day.

In qualifying, when it’s all about speed, the car is on the razor’s edge. So much of the downforce is taken away to maximize the speed and it really is a matter of hanging on for four laps. Every twitch of the steering wheel can set off a chain of events that can be disastrous or legendary. The cars and the rules have changed over the years, but that high-stress moment of being out there alone trying to go as fast as possible remains the same.

Then, in the race, there are 32 other cars out there going 230 mph in a fixed amount of space. One of the interesting things is that we are here practicing for several days with the bulk of the grandstands empty, but on race day it’s full and the driver’s view heading into Turn 1 is completely different than it had been. That makes those early laps so important as everyone gets their bearings. There really is nothing easy about this place.

The Indianapolis 500 is a bucket list item for competitors and fans. It is the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Over the 100 years of the event, the greatest drivers have tried their luck. Dreams have come true for some and dashed for others. Personally, I’ve been on both sides of that fence. Drivers want to check the box and say they’ve done it.

Adding an Indy 500 to your racing resume is desired by everyone. To add your name to the history and lore is special and be able to win validates your career regardless of what else has been done. Millions of fans have come through the gates to witness the race and amazing things can be seen any given year. As a driver in this race for more than 15 or so years, it’s awesome to meet fans that have attended 30, 40 and 50 Indianapolis 500s. That’s how special it is.

Success in the Indianapolis 500 is a total team effort. It looks like it’s all about the driver, but nothing is farther from the truth. Racing really is a team sport. Without the maximum support of a team very little can be accomplished. The amount of preparation for this single event is staggering. At Team Penske, we’re judged on our success or lack of it in this one race. We embrace it.

This is a long race that can have six, seven or even eight pit stops. The strategy and ability to adapt are crucial elements. The track conditions change. The car changes. The circumstances surrounding you change. There has to be a solid line of communication with the team in order to be there at the end for an opportunity to win.

To put it simply, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 are magical.

shares
comments
Alonso Indy 500 win would inspire F1 drivers - Unser Jr
Previous article

Alonso Indy 500 win would inspire F1 drivers - Unser Jr

Next article

What Sato learned from his famous defeat in the 2012 Indy 500

What Sato learned from his famous defeat in the 2012 Indy 500
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021