NEARLY TIME TO RACE
MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championship
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Aug 26, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Brian Kennedy
Tick, tock; tick tock. Hear that? You might think it’s the countdown to the end of summer, traditionally thought of as being marked by the coming of Labor Day. Time to put away the white dress shoes and start wearing your fall fashions. Or something like that.
In fact, the noise you hear is the countdown clock to the revisit of the Verizon IndyCar series to So Cal, happening this week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The culmination of events will take place late in the day Saturday, when the grid of 22-plus cars will roar into turn one as they start a 500-mile trek to the end of their season and, for one of a handful, the IndyCar World Championship, also known as the MAVTV 500. (Please don’t mind the hyperbole—there are drivers from a large handful of countries competing in this year’s series, including the US, Canada, Russia, England, Columbia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.)
That night will see a two, three, or four-hour trek to the finish, perhaps some accidents, and certainly a lot of roar from both the cars and the crowd which gathers to watch them.
And the run-up to that race, officially starting at 7:20 p.m. local time, kicks off Wednesday, when fans holding weekend tickets can view testing—for free. Those who aren’t planning to get to the race on the weekend can be admitted for a $10 charitable donation. Wednesday’s test starts at 4:30pm and continues until 10:30.
Why test? For the simple reason that these guys will want to know how their cars will react to changing track conditions as the evening wears on, with less sun and a colder track making for a moving target that someone will get right on the way to winning the race. And they’ll want to re-familiarize (most have run at Fontana at night before) themselves with the light-and-shadow conditions that they’ll be running in with so much at stake.
Thursday’s a quiet day as far as on-track activity is concerned, but if you don’t make it out on Wednesday, then Friday’s also an option. The track opens for spectators at 8:30 a.m., with the first cars on track at 10am. Qualifying for the Verizon IndyCars goes from 2:15-3:30, and then a group of historic IndyCars takes to the track for some exhibition laps.
Those cars, which will also be on track Saturday at 5:40 p.m., got some of the biggest roars of approval from fans at last year’s final IndyCar event. And it’s not like they’re slow. Some go as much as 160 even though they’re not competing with each other for space on the track.
Friday’s activities conclude with a final IndyCar practice that goes 6:15-6:45. So you can make an afternoon of it, get out after the traffic on the local freeways has thinned, and then get ready to do it again on Saturday.
The big raceday starts with the gates opening to spectators at noon. It’s then a charge through the afternoon featuring a series of entertainment options, most of which kick off around 4 p.m.. There’s a fun zone, autograph sessions, tribute band “Cheaper Trick” (do they really bid on that sort of thing?) and a Moto-X exhibition that will see bikes flipping and flying, riders included.
But all of that is just to give time for you to find your seat at what is billed as IndyCar’s fastest track.
Sure, you can see the event on TV. And you’d enjoy it. But when you see the enormity of the track, the unevenness of the surface, the way the cars pitch around on the turns, the general mayhem that is a professional race on a track this huge, you’ll be very glad that you made this the first event of your Labor Day weekend. And heck, if you think about it, you can even wear your white patent leather loafers, because Labor Day itself doesn’t officially come until Monday.