1. Indy 500 field seeks good fortune from New York's 'Charging Bull': 2. Reid passes Firestone Indy Lights rookie test
1. Indy 500 field seeks good fortune from New York's 'Charging Bull': No one wished to be without good luck, so the 33 drivers who will compete in the 92nd Indianapolis 500 rubbed the nose, horns and other anatomical parts of the bronze Charging Bull statue on Broadway.
“Because I’m not very tall, I was in a position where I couldn’t see myself in the picture so I stood on my helmet and then I was one of the tallest,” said HVM Racing’s E.J. Viso after the starting field for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” posed in 11 rows of three in Race Day uniforms for an international media photo blitz that stopped lunch time traffic in the Financial District.
The 7,000-pound sculpture by Arturo Di Modica depicts a flared-nostril bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, ready to charge. It’s often rubbed by investors – and tourists – seeking good luck. Now the statue – with a winner’s wreath around one of its horns – has the distinction of being rubbed by 33 IndyCar Series drivers seeking good luck in the 500-Mile Race.
“It was great,” said Viso, the IndyCar Series rookie who will start from the middle of Row 9. “To see all the people on the sidewalks take our picture was great. I rubbed the bull’s nose, so now I’ll have good luck for my first ‘500.’ It’s part of all the things associated with the race, and I will definitely remember this.”
Spectators on double-decker tour buses also were treated to close-up photo ops (no extra charge) as a handful of drivers posed on the open-air second deck of a tour bus. Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who qualified fourth in seeking his third Indianapolis 500 victory, waved to the star-struck tourists.
“They must have seen me on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” said Castroneves, who soon afterward was on his way to Los Angeles for his role as an “Entertainment Tonight” special correspondent covering the finals of the top-rated ABC show that he won in November.
Drivers then filed into the recently opened Sports Museum of America for a media luncheon and tour of the 50,000-square-foot facility that includes multiple pieces of memorabilia from past and present drivers associated with the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500.
The Sports Museum of America is the nation's first multi-media, interactive all-sports museum experience celebrating the significance of sports in American culture. A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti are members of the museum’s Board of Trustees.
“This event is an absolute home run,” said John Urban, president and general manager of the Sports Museum of America. “It’s the first big outdoor event we’ve done and what could be better? Thirty-three drivers, the (Borg-Warner) Trophy and having everybody here take a look at the museum.
“The auto racing story we tell starts with walking over the original batch of bricks and we talk about the history of the ‘500’ and the great drivers, families and dynasties and moments. We hope the collection and excitement will continue to grow.”
Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the sanctioning Indy Racing League added to the museum’s motorsports collection with an IndyCar Series front wing.
2. Reid passes Firestone Indy Lights rookie test: New Zealand's Jonny Reid successfully completed his Firestone Indy Lights rookie test on May 19 at Iowa Speedway, clearing the way for him to compete in the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 23.
The 24-year-old native of Auckland, New Zealand completed the requirements in a car prepared by Integra Motorsports under the direction of Firestone Indy Lights Technical Director Butch Meyer.
"Jonny Reid is a very good driver," Meyer said. "He did everything we asked of him and understood the car very well. He was smooth as glass and very impressive. He was turning laps within a few tenths of the quick time here last year and was working on getting faster."
Reid has competed and won in various junior formulas around the world, and was lead driver for Team New Zealand's runner-up campaign in the recently completed A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues May 23 with the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition as part of ESPN2's Miller Lite Carb Day coverage beginning at 11 a.m. on May 23. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network at 12:15 p.m.