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Photo TR: Fontana Indy Car Final


SLUSHIE
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This past Saturday was the final Indy Car race of the season. I guess because of the crash last year in Las Vegas they opted to go to the AAA track in Fontana, CA instead. I should start this TR by saying that I'm not a fan of any USA racing series, and know little of Indy Car. My parents have been to the Indy 500 multiple times (we have family in Indianapolis that were on the Indy 500 board), but I have never gone. I am a fan of many European series's however, from a young age I have been a World Rally Championship fan and in the past couple years become a fan of Formula 1. My Mom invited me to the race though (she is an avid NASCAR and Indy fan) and so I went.

 

This was the first major series race I have been to, I had been to a NASCAR Busch series race at Sonoma (friends Dad got free tickets for buying gas or something) and I went to F1 Friday practice at Indianapolis while visiting family in 2005. I wasn't a F1 fan at the time, so I didn't care about not going to the race, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't anyways because that was the year of the tire fiasco. Here is a wiki link if nobody knows what I'm talking about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_United_States_Grand_Prix.

 

On with the TR!

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The Sacramento Airport has a new terminal that isn't even a year old, and that is where Southwest is now. The check in area has this crazy polygonal rabbit thing.

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After landing and getting the rental car I drove out to Riverside where I was staying for the night. Anytime your driving in CA for an hour or more a In-n-Out stop is mandatory (for me anyways).

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Stopping somewhere like this is pretty mandatory also.

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They had some other things going on outside the track, but we arrived a bit too late to really look at much of it. What is crazy is the parking lot opened at 7am and the race wasn't till 5pm. There were some people tailgating, but not that many.

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They had a little drifting area setup to promote Formula Drift. I think at some Indy Car races they actually have competitions but here they were just doing it for fun.

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People were lining up to get rides. I don't know how much it costs or anything but they just did a quick figure 8 then swapped passengers.

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They also had an area setup for motorcycle jumping but I never saw anyone over there.

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There was a bunch of booths you could visit where you could get free pens and that sorta crap. Stuff I'm not interested at all. The AAA booth here was giving out soda can koozies, good thing security didn't allow metal or glass drinks inside.

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We went up to our seats in the stands, and off the back you could get an overview of the stuff going on in the parking lot. This RC truck course must have been entertaining.

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This guy was getting some EXTREME!!! closeups.

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There are currently 2 former F1 drivers in the Indy Car series. Takuma Sato who's best and only podium finish in F1 was 3rd at the 2004 USGP, and former Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello with 68 F1 podiums including 11 wins. Rubens' last year in F1 was 2011, and he hopped right into Indy Car for the 2012 season.

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They had this truck/stage out on the track which is where they introduced all the drivers and had some other things going on. I think in this photo they are about to do some taiko drumming, I have no idea why.

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Of course with any major sporting event, a jet flyover is mandatory.

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Here are the starting positions for all the cars. The only one I remember is that Rubens is number 8. Takuma was either 14 or 15.

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Here come the cars to start the first lap of the race. One thing (besides everything else) that I like about F1 over Indy is that F1 does standing instead of rolling starts.

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The big battle for the championship was between Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Will Power was who everyone (my Mom at least) was hoping would win. Last season I guess he would have won the championship if it weren't for them canceling the race after the crash. He would have won this year if he finished better than 6th (I think) but not even 1/3rd of the way though the race he basically took himself out by hitting the wall. So close yet so far once again.

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Since the race started at 5pm it got dark pretty quickly and taking photos became pretty hard. Since I didn't have a tripod I just started spraying and praying that one of them wasn't blurry. I had been paying attention to Rubens and rooting for him to place well, but shorty after Will Power crashed his car started to noticeably go slower and then suddenly his car was kinda on fire. He was up to 3rd at one point though. I was kinda bummed but obviously not as much as he was, I didn't really know who to pay attention to until the final laps of the race.

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For some reason they repaired Will Power's car and brought him back out on track, he only did a small number of laps before they pushed him back into the garage again. I have no clue what that was about.

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With about only 10 laps to go there was a pretty heavy crash by one of the cars and they red flagged the race. I noticed that every time there was some small incident on track they waved yellows and brought the safety car out. I kinda understand why, because the speeds are so high at every point of the track and after the cars spread out there is pretty much constant traffic. It's different from F1 though, because while yellows get waved all the time, its only for the speficic portion of track where the incident was, and if they bring the safety car out that means something totally bad happened.

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All the cars were brought into the pits. I don't think they had to red flag the race, but I think they did it because under yellow the laps count and with only 10 laps or so to go they didn't want the championship race to end that way.

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Ed Carpenter won the race, and the 2 Target cars 2nd and 3rd. Ryan Hunter-Reay came in 4th and secured the championship.

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After the race was over they opened up a gate and let everyone who wished go out on the track and view the ceremonies. For such an event I found it odd that very few people actually stayed and went out on the track.

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Since we were at the top of the stands (higher is better at a race) it took us a while to get down there and the winners circle was flooded with people. We decided to go over to the podium for the championship ceremony instead. Even this camera operator was having a hard time getting a good view. I have no idea what the hell that clown is for.

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The championship trophy!

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The NBC announcer and some other dude!

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Over at the race podium some confetti went off.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay made it to the podium and explained that none of this would have been possible without the power of lime!

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He then received his check for $1M, the amount every F1 driver gets for taking a crap.

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The trophy is apparently kinda heavy. One issue I have with Indy is that hardly any of the drivers are from the US. Indy doesn't only race on ovals but circuits as well, and there is almost no way for Americans to get into the sport. NASCAR is the only series in the USA that has a means for young drivers to develop their skills. Most of the Indy Car drivers are from Europe, and former American Indy Car driver Danica Patrick was actually raised in Europe so she could compete in the smaller racing series. I guess having an American win the championship was a big deal even though its a USA series.

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While I'm not a fan of Indy and pointed fun at it sometimes, I still had fun and it was entertaining even though I was pretty lost as far was what was happening. If you get the chance to go see a race you should try it. We were sitting in the most expensive seats and it was only $50. Indy Car is making progress in increasing it's popularity. Until this year all the cars were exactly the same and all used Honda engines. There are now multiple engine manufactures involved again and there are plans in the future to allow teams to make chassis modifications (they are still are all the same, yet brand new for this year). F1 is trying to make a comeback in the US aswell though. This November will be the first F1 race in the US since 2007 at a brand new track in Texas, and with yet another race outside New York for 2013. It will be interesting to see what happens with the popularity of Indy and F1 in the coming years.

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After the race we stopped at El Pollo Loco and this kitty greeted us in the drive though.

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I checked into a hotel in Irvine and found this misspelled sign amusing. Something I would do. I checked signs on other floors and they were all correct. The next day I had planned to go to Magic Mountain but didn't feel like getting up and making the drive, so I slept in what seemed like 5 minutes and made the pretty much equidistant drive to Carlsbad. I probably should have gone to MM but at least I got a new pair of shoes. The day after (Monday) I went to Disneyland to check out Cars Land for the first time. Didn't take many photos but I think most of us have seen it enough already.

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On Tuesday before flying out I stopped at Farrell's. I guess these used to be all over the place but they all closed down. They recently started opening some new stores. Recommended.

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We used to have a Farrell's and it had great ice cream. Hope their come back continues.

 

I have only been to smaller races so one of these days I would like to see one of the big races. The problem is I would have to travel a ways and it is not something my wife is interested in at all.

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