Around 10:30, the cars began to move onto the main straight, taking up their starting positions.
Ryan Briscoe is substituting for the injured James Hinchcliffe, who was badly injured when a rocker failed and he hit the Turn 1 wall at 228 MPH. Most of the field sported these Get Well 5oon decals.
Curious fans walk the grid, checking out the cars, waiting for the drivers to make their appearance. Even though the green flag is 90 minutes away, over a hundred thousand people are walking the track and taking their seats. This year’s 500 sported one of the largest attendances since the Split in 1995. TV ratings were up from 2014 as well. Despite IndyCar’s iffy series health, the 500 continues to thrive.
After the long list of opening traditions wrapped up (including the singing of ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ that was NOT performed by Jim Nabors for the first time in 42 years), the call was given to fire engines. 21,450 horsepower roared to life and pulled away, the rows of three forming an iconic sight.
The only car to not pull away from the grid was the 48 of Alex Tagliani. His transmission would not shift from neutral. Fortunately his AJ Foyt Racing crew was able to fix the problem and he was able to get out before the three warmup laps were completed and take his place in the starting field. Conor Daly was not so lucky. On the Pace lap, his SPM Honda would catch fire and he would be the first retirement of the day. The extra crispy bacon jokes soon followed.
The field came down and Patrick Dempsey waved the green flag. We’re racing at Indy! (Editor’s note: dramatic reenactment due to our one and only reporter being stationed in Turn 1 for the start).