- Written by webmin
The Indianapolis 500 is the ultimate American race gathering and social blowout, always has been, but the English have had a major presence in its running almost from the start. I initially reported here that the first Brit in the race was Italian-born Dario Resta, who won in 1916 after making an initial appearance the previous year, but speedway historian Donald Davidson – himself a native Briton – said that distinction actually goes to Hughie Hughes of Wales, who was in the 1911 starting lineup. The British brought the rear-engine race car to Indy and made it work, along with chassis such as Lola, March and Penske. The centennial running of the 500 had a British winner, Dan Wheldon.
If you looked around during May, you could pick up hints of the speedway’s respectful, symbiotic co-existence with Merrie Olde all over the place. Here was one, the rolling concours on May 13, which attracted this absolutely gorgeous Jaguar XK that got to lap the sacred oval.
Then, I ran into this. Some folks were saluting the connection between England and Indiana with this decorated locale they called the Brit Corner, festooned with images of the Queen, London Bridge and the royal couple. Those are croissants, though, not scones, and one of the believers here was ready to crack a can of Milwaukee’s Best. Still, more dignified than the Snake Pit, which has made a comeback of late after a long banishment and even has its own Facebook page.
Here was yours truly’s fave, Tony Kanaan’s car getting rolled out to the grid. Entered by KV Racing Technologies, it’s the spec Indycar combo of Dallara chassis, Honda V-8 power and Firestone Firehawk (meaning Bridgestone) tires, so despite its Lotus colors, there’s little British about it. It still evokes the Lotus-Ford with which Jim Clark won the 1965 race for Colin Chapman. Kanaan is one of the gutsiest drivers of Indy’s modern era, and finished fourth after coming from the back of the pack twice. Tony K is a thrill to watch in any race.