Racing news from the Indiana motorsports scene

Home Grown Dirt Track Veteran Shocks The World At Indy

Indy 500 pole winner, Ed Carpenter, took the checkered flag at the end of his four-lap qualification run Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

Indy 500 pole winner, Ed Carpenter, took the checkered flag at the end of his four-lap qualification run Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]

SPEEDWAY, IN: On a stormy Spring day in Central Indiana, something truly amazing took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: a single car team, with a Hoosier driver raised on the dirt tracks of the Mid-west, captured the Pole Position for the 97th Indy 500!

For the early part of his career, Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter was rather lightly regarded by many in the racing community as just another rich kid spending daddy’s money on race cars. After all, Ed is the step-son of Hulman family member Tony George, former President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and founder of the Indy Racing League.

Well, guess what? It’s time for a major re-think!

Even though Carpenter has accumulated two wins in the IndyCar series, including the season-ending 500 miler last year at Fontana, California, virtually no-one was expecting Ed’s single car entry, sponsored by Fuzzy”s Vodka, to challenge the mighty Penske, Andretti and Ganassi teams for the Pole.

Challenge? Hell, folks; he smoked ’em!

Things like this seem to never happen in the real world. We noted in a previous article that Ed Carpenter was the only driver on this year’s Indy 500 entry list with any dirt track experience in his background. Back in the day when when many of us old-timers began coming to the Speedway, the clear path to competing in the Memorial Day Classic started at the local dirt and paved short oval tracks of America. All that changed in the ’60’s, of course, with the arrival of the rear engined cars from Europe, which were designed to race on road courses. When it was found that the “funny cars” adopted well to American oval tracks, the well-funded road race drivers came along, seeking the pot of gold at Indianapolis. Slowly but surely the trend away from American oval track racers making it to the Indy 500 began.

After examining this year’s entry list, and finding Ed Carpenter to be the only member of the “old guard” with a car to race at Speedway, it seemed that the trend away from American circle track racers making it to the Indy 500 was nearly complete.

But, as a wise man once said, “The best thing about auto racing is: “you just never know”!

It would be nice to think that Ed Carpenter’s success at the Speedway yesterday would clear the path for other American short track racers to renew their efforts to compete at the Speedway.

I, for one, have renewed hope. Thanks, Ed!

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