"Yaweee Bebe! Yawee Bebe!" Such is the victory cry of the Indy Racing League, or at least it is out of the mouth of Brazilian Helio Castroneves (hobbies: tennis, being one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive) on his radio as he crossed the finish line to win the Bombardier LeerJet 500, at Texas Motor Speedway--his second Texas win after a 2004 victory.
Indy Car Racing is an odd world. Its musical theme, "I Am Indy" (or, as one commentator, asks "Who's Mindy?"), is a weird foot-stomping anthem that kind of brings back memories of Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman," as in "let me roar." And roaring is what Indy needs. Desperately. As was reported in The Dallas Morning News yesterday, 24-year-old racing hottie Danica Patrick (hobbies: shopping, music, movies, working out), massager of Danicamania, bemoans the lack of bongo bucks in Indy Car Racing, at least when compared to that 800-ton racing bank vault known as NASCAR. "We just don't have as much stuff," she laments.
I'll say. I usually arrive for a Nextel Cup race about six hours before the green flag as a hedge against fatal traffic and parking sclerosis. Three hours before this Indy Race? No traffic. No arm-waving cops in front of strobe-flashing Camaros and Harleys. No...cars. TMS is a ghost town. The only people around are the ushers, setting up white plastic barrels of ice water and stacks of paper towels for a quick dip and dab to keep fans from succumbing to heat stroke in the 103-degree temps. During the United States Racing Association's Late Model Konica Minolta 100 (the first segment of a two-race series dubbed the "Texas Two Step," with the second step at San Antonio Speedway next Saturday), the race announcers kept flubbing their Indy race teases, referring to headliner as a NASCAR event.
Indy pre-race entertainment, provided by a band called Tops (or is it Topps?), did soundchecks on stage, only to have their band sound go dumb, leaving totally nude vocals. During "Jesse's Girl," the guitarist did his solo complete with Rick Springfield struts and poses, and all you could hear was the singer wail, "Oh, yeah. Whooeee. So sweet." Merchandise inside the track is all Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon--plus TMS ephemera.
"Where's the Indy merchandise? Gotta get me a Danica decal."
"You gotta go outside."
And what's outside? More Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman. Oh, there's the Indy stuff. No one's around. Wait, there's a huge crowd around the Danica trailer.
One of the highlights of the Bombardier LeerJet 500 was when Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. (hobbies: bowling, movies) pitted after leading the race with nine laps to go. He stalled in the pits after running out of gas.
I am Mindy! --Mark Stuertz