When Tony Kanaan took the checkers under yellow on Sunday to win his first Indianapolis 500, it brought to a close a month filled with the highs and lows of racing.
The early pace and multiple lead changes was an indicator that this year's 500 was up for grabs. In the end, the record-setting pace and 68 lead changes only added to the lure of the 500. There's no doubt, Kanaan's win will be one of the feel-good stories of 2013. Here are some views on what makes May in Indianapolis is special:
n The post-race press conference following pole day was anything but a press conference. It was more like a night-club comedy show featuring James Hinchcliffe, A.J. Allmendinger and a host of others. Long-time racing announcer and author Pat Sullivan -- who moderates the press conferences at the speedway-- was relieved when Ryan Hunter-Reay came into the room, hoping he would help restore some order.
Instead, Hunter-Reay added fuel to the fire when he reeled off some thesaurus-like words, drawing strange looks from his fellow racers and the comedy show continued. In my 27 years of covering motorsports I had never laughed so hard in a press conference. It was one for the ages.
n There are few tracks in the world where you can have a four-wide finish and on Carb Day, yet that is exactly what happened in the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100 as Peter Dempsey made it four wide at the start-finish line for the win.
n As many people know, I grew up on the big block modified division at Flemington and there is nothing like the ground-pounding effect of a 467-cubic inch engine coming out of Turn 4 at the start of a race. This year I watched the start of the 500 from the north end of the pit lane. I will say that 33 turbo-charged cars whizzing by is a sight to behold.
n I've said it before and I'll say it again, no where in sports will you find more patriotic and respectful fans than auto racing. When the runners from the Boston Marathon came into view on the frontstretch and two of them carried the American flag, the chants of "USA! USA! USA!" could be heard all over the Brickyard. When the first notes of Taps during the pre-race ceremonies reached the stands, there was complete silence.
n Looking back on my two-seat ride with Mario Andretti, television does the race no justice in truly getting the feel of nine degrees of banking and the upwards of 3Gs your body goes through in the corners. Maybe one day, someone will invent a seat for fans to sit in while watching the race and feel all the sensations of driving the car.
n I believe that had the caution not come out with three laps to go, Tony Kanaan was still going to win the 500 after his bold move on the lap 193 restart to take the lead. I for one am glad that IndyCar does not have a green-white-checker finish.
I was saddened to hear about the passing of long-time friend Carl 'Midge' Miller the other day. I had know Midge since the late 1980s. He raced on a shoe-string budget but was successful in both the midgets and sprint cars. He was a true friend to everyone in the sport and one of the few guys who earned the title 'class act' both on and off the track. Rest in peace my friend.
The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for May 25, 2014, seven months to the day before Christmas. Who will get an early Christmas present next May? At this point, it's anyone's guess. There are only 360 days until we find out!
n Shawn Wood covers motorsports for The Daily Item.