May 1st. A bittersweet day knowing the Indianapolis 500 is less than four weeks away but knowing every time this month begins we are reminded of the tragic weekend in Imola 1994 when Ayrton Senna lost his life just a day after Roland Ratzenberger perished.
This is not meant to bring down the mood. Senna and Ratzenberger are probably at that big racetrack up in the sky sitting next to the likes of Bill Vukovich, Dale Earnhardt, Jim Clark, Greg Moore and Dan Wheldon waiting for the next race and the next driver to join them on the pit wall. They are still racing and we should do the same.
The month of May is special. When we flip the calendar or, in the technological age, when the calendar automatically changes we know what is on the line. The milk, the Borg-Warner, the wreath, Back Home Again in Indiana. History. That is what 33 drivers will be aiming for come May 26. Two drivers look to become the fourth member of the Four-Time Winner's Club. Chevrolet looks for it's first win since 2002. The names Andretti, Rahal and Foyt look to return to victory lane. Single car teams look to upset the big name teams. Seasoned veterans look for their first triumph at Indianapolis as father time ticks closer and closer to the end of their careers.
When people started floating out the idea of a road course race at the Speedway in the late Summer, early fall, a part of me became sick. Many cite the Formula One, Indy Lights, MotoGP, NASCAR and sports car races as enough of a reason to just add another IndyCar race at the hallowed groups at 16th and Georgetown. That tradition had been defiled so much that we mind as well keep defiling it.
No. The month of May should be the only time IndyCars are preparing for a race at the Speedway. No one is going to be scrambling to get a ride for a 200 mile road course race in September. No one would even care if someone was scraping together a ride for a IMS road course race. It would just be another race. If IndyCar wants to do another IndyCar race, go to Phoenix or Michigan or Road America or Austin. Not the Speedway.
The Speedway wasn't meant for another IndyCar race. It is the pinnacle, the Mecca of racing. The Indianapolis 500 should not have competition from another IndyCar race. If you want to see IndyCars at the Speedway, there is one time of the year to see them and that is the month of May.