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Paddock Postcard from Indianapolis 19 Jun 2005

Mario Andretti (USA) (Right) with his grandson Marco Andretti (USA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 16 June 2005 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) BAR talks with Danica Patrick (USA) IRL Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 16 June 2005 (L to R): Luca Mamorini (ITA) Toyota Head of Engine Development with Ryan Briscoe (AUS) IRL Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2005 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2005 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 16 June 2005

As usual, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been chockfull of famous faces from the motorsport world, with more champions per square inch than a Hall of Fame.

Mario Andretti was here with son Michael (whose Andretti Green team recently won the Indy 500) and grandson Marco, who delighted both by dominating the Infinity Pro series race after starting from pole.

Rick Mears stopped by, together with Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon (who was able to catch up with old Buckmore Park karting rival Jenson Button), Tony Kanaan, Vitor Meira, Tomas Scheckter, Danny Sullivan, Derek Daly, former F3000 racer Townsend Bell, ex-Formula One racer Davina Galica, Eddie Cheever and Ryan Briscoe. Teams owners Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi also visited.

Britain’s sports minister Richard Caborn also came by to see how races are staged in the US.

The most popular figure was the smallest, as Indy 500 star and Rahal Letterman racer Danica Patrick made a brief appearance at BAR. Both Patrick and Kanaan are provisionally scheduled for Formula One tests with the team in the future.

Prior to arriving in Indianapolis, Michael Schumacher relaxed on a motorcycling tour with friends which took them from Asheville, North Carolina, up to Indy.

“You have great spots country-wise,” said Schumacher, who rode a Harley-Davidson. “We stayed in this Blue Ridge Parkway area. We spent about one and a half days there. Then we went to Dealer’s Point; we did this run which was just awesome. I love biking, particularly because you just feel so free.

“You get the air, you feel like you’re in the open sky. It’s like (scuba) diving in a way. That’s on the opposite side, you’re in the water, you glide, and you feel a bit like flying.”

Meanwhile, Mark Webber and Christian Klien visited the Trek bicycle factory in Madison, Wisconsin, where they met up with Tom Danielson (winner of the Tour de Georgia) and Michael Creed, two members of Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel cycling team, and went on some tough training rides.

In addition to all the action at the track, IMS arranged a calendar full of cultural, social and sporting events via a ‘Grand Week’ in town which has been dedicated to cars and concerts and will culminate in the race.

There was a ‘Grand Prix-View’ on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis on the 13th, as Mayor Bart Peterson and city leaders kicked things off with music and an exhibition of classic cars. Later there was the National Gathering of Ferrari, CARA Charities’ Indy Shop Tour and the Chrysler Indianapolis Concours Grand Prix show. In the Indiana Convention Center on Saturday there was the popular 6th Annual Grand Prix of Motorsports Memorabilia.

Other events included the Indy Jazz Fest in Military Park, which featured crooner Tony Bennett, The Commodores and Manhattan Transfer.