A cheeseburger on race day keeps the nerves away
Editor’s note: This is a continuation of sports briefs from driver Buddy Lazier of Vail as he prepares for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.During Thursday’s practice (Miller Lite Carberation Day), we ran 15 laps wide open. I have an awesome race car, and I am very happy with it. We ran with full tanks today and the car stuck to the track. I can’t say enough about my engineer Owen Snyder. The man is really good.Between now and the race, we will have some team meetings. Also, we will participate in sponsor appearances and other events. Sponsors are very important to us, and we try to please them.
The night before the race, I will have a steak dinner and go to bed early. It is important to get a lot of sleep. I need to have a fresh mind on race day. On Sunday, I will wake up early and be ready to have a fun day. Also, I will probably eat a cheeseburger. I love my cheeseburgers and since I work out all the time, I can take in as many calories as I please.On race day, I know there are a lot of people in the stands, but I am so focused I don’t really see them. When I look at the tapes afterward, I am always amazed to see the size of the crowd. After all, the Indy 500 is the world’s largest single-day sporting event.
We will have a plan at the start of the race, but on the first lap, the plan often goes out the window. After that, you are ad-libbing. The first lap is hairy. The tires are cold, and drivers are at the top of their rev limiters mentally. Things happen very fast during those first few laps. After that, your car gains one-third more grip, and it is more forgiving.I am not concerned with the inexperience of the newer drivers. The Indy Racing League has a system where they teach and watch the rookies. Brian Barnhart (chief administrator for the Indy Racing League), Al Unser Sr., Johnny Rutherford and others have done an excellent job in training these drivers. The new drivers have taken to the track beautifully, and I am looking forward to racing with them.During the race, communication with my team is important, and they are very good at it. If there is something to be said, I want them to say it. Racing is all about focus and concentration, so you don’t want to talk unless it is vital.
My spotter keeps me aware of the other cars on the track. With these smaller engines, the closing rates – on other cars – is very fast. Since we have less horsepower now, you have to keep your momentum up. If you are going to pass a car, you have to time it well, as much as a half-a-lap ahead of time. The race is 500 miles and to win the Indy 500, you have to be able to finish it. If I can get myself into a good position toward the end of the race, I will let it all hang out, particularly if I have a chance to win.