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Paddock postcard from Indianapolis 28 Sep 2003

(L to R): Tony Kanaan (BRA) IRL driver, Roger Penske (USA) and Gil de Ferran (BRA) IRL driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, USA, 27 September 2003

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the self-styled 'Racing Capital of the World', and the sheer scale of the place never fails to impress, nor the carefully manicured presentation that is world class. A massive crowd has descended here this weekend, and the merchandising and memorabilia stalls outside on 16th Street have been doing good business.

In the paddock, former Grand Prix stars such as Sir Jackie Stewart and Phil Hill have been reminiscing with a bunch of past and present ChampCar and IndyCar racers such as 500 winners Arie Luyendyk, Gil De Ferran and Helio Castroneves, together with Max Papis, Townsend Bell and Derek Hill. Former Karting world champion Peter de Bruyn was a guest at Jaguar, while former freestyle motocross champion Travis Pastrana participated in the Porsche Supercup races. Golfer Tom Watson was among IMS owner Tony George's guests.

There is a big deputation from Ford, including Henry Ford himself, and former Jaguar Cars chief Sir Nick Scheele and the latest incumbent, Joe Greenwell. Star race team faces include Roger Penske, Adrian Reynard, Craig Pollock and NASCAR's Rick Hendrick; the acting profession is represented by Anthony Edwards and the music world by Johnny Rotten (aka Donald Campbell fan John Lydon). On Saturday night, while Aaron Fike and 2002 winner Dave Steele were entertaining the crowds at Indianapolis Raceway Park winning a race apiece in the Twin 25s midget racing extravaganza, Chris Isaak played a one-hour set downtown courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.

At the same time in the Paddock Club, ambitious manufacturer BMW launched Formula BMW in the United States, a week after doing the same with its promising single-seater racing series in the UK.