Seems incredible that Indy, which is the "big one" for Super Chevy Shows, also marks the halfway point in the season. By this point in the year many of us had expected the Nitro Coupe points chase to be pretty well wrapped up by Gary Irving and his team, but the other racers and fate have stepped up and added a major dose of reality.
Weather, mechanical failures, a match up with the track wall, and other teams working hard have left Irving in second place after our last event at Bristol, Tennessee. He's only five points behind Randy Adler and that can be overcome easily with good qualifying. Gary did just that setting low elapsed time of 6.338 and top speed of 222.73 mph, and winning his first round against the Jeff Merritt team before rain postponed the Indy semis and finals. Too bad because Irving was set to run against Adler in the semi-finals, who prevailed when Tommy Howes lit up the "red" during the first round. Well, anyway, we'll settle it in Maple Grove, next week.
As if that wasn't enough, we had the massive swap meet and outstanding show cars that we expect in Indy. Cars from as far away as California and Arizona rolled in and took some major awards in the show. Buyers and sellers from all over the Midwest came with rare parts and pockets full of cash respectively, and found ways to move these commodities from one to the other. That's Indy, and that's why we love it.
He Knows 'Em AllGate 3 At Indy Is In Good HandsHe used to let Jeff Gordon in free. He actually prefers roundy-round racing to drag racing, but he's been working at Indianapolis Raceway Park for 24 years, most of which has been at Gate 3. If you're a pro-racer, a track worker, or vendor, you probably know Francis Buchanan. Every year we pull in, he looks at us for a second or two, then grins and asks "how ya' doing?" He remembers all the regulars and that's saying something for a guy that just turned 84 this month.
Francis also worked at the Indianapolis Speedway for 18 years up until 2001. His current favorite racer is a local guy named Steve Blair who competes regularly at IRP in trucks and sprints. Francis isn't a racer, having spent his working life as a precision grinder up until 1982. He lives in nearby Brownsburg, IN, where he shared that life for 64 years with his wife Mary. She passed away in January but their anniversary was July 6, just a few days before this interview.
Buchanan has been retired for longer than many people have been working, or even living. He's there from the time the gate opens until the boss relieves him. He knows who's supposed to get in and who is not, and they don't (believe us). He deals with people the way we all want to be treated, and when we get to Gate 3 at Indy, it's a bit like coming home. Thanks, Francis.