Will they “trade paint”?
The Wednesday before each Indianapolis 500 is dedicated to the community at large – literally. it’s Community Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with activities, tours, autograph sessions, an open garage area and plenty of reasons to bring the family to the Brickyard. It’s always fun for all ages.
It’s also an opportunity for racers in the area to visit one another.
To that extent, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 polesitter, Ed Carpenter welcomed the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Top Fuel champion Antron Brown to the garage area at IMS. The duo, friends for about 15 years compared notes, Brown examined the Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone Indy car that earned pole position for the 97th Indy 500 and then climbed in. He was most impressed with Carpenter’s office, in particular the very informative steering wheel that the Indy car drivers use.
If Antron fits in my seat, I probably sit just fine in his seat, too,” Carpenter said with a smile. “So I’d like to go down and check it out sometime. I’m sure we could both adapt if we had time. Like anything, seat time is key,” Carpenter said. “There’s a lot of technology, a lot of things that aren’t totally different, even though they’re totally different disciplines. But underneath it all, there are a lot of common parts and things. We do speak the same language.”
The two posed for photographs and the suggestion of a car trade was made. Brown invited Carpenter to come out for the pre-Mac Tools U.S. Nationals test in late August, which falls between a couple of Indy car races; Carpenter said he’d try to make it.
“I always love coming out to the 500,” said Brown, who grew up in New Jersey but lives in suburban Indianapolis. “It’s just good times to come out and especially support Ed, pulling that pole off. That’s just a great feat for his team. Everything these cars have evolved into, the way these new cars are, they’re so much safer, so much more sound,” Brown added. “The paddle shifters are complex, everything in the steering wheel – that’s what we need in NHRA, everything in the steering wheel. Small, turbo-charged engines going the speeds they go, that’s just phenomenal. That just tells you how far they’ve come.”
Brown might have stuck around longer but his son Anson is scheduled to race tonight in his Jr Dragster and the family is very much involved with that, so off they went. Not before there were smiles, agreements to meet again amid the promise that some day, some way, these two driving stars might have the opportunity to trade paint.
Words and Photos By Anne Proffit