Indy 500 driver animal

Illustration by Roger Warrick

Indy 500 driver animal


Indy 500 driver animal


As we’ve come to expect in the NTT IndyCar Series, silliness inside the paddock often stems from the thoughts and words of Conor Daly. A few months ago, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver wondered aloud — and on social media — whether he could ride an American bison onto the Indy 500 driver introduction stage, and from there, hilarity ensued.

Despite the potential of Indiana-born Daly achieving maximum American-ness with the accompaniment of the 2000-pound beast before racing his No. 47 Chevy sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. answered on Twitter, recommending against any attempts to wrangle and ride a bison minutes before Sunday’s race.

After that, rabid IndyCar fans started sending in submissions for my podcast guests each week, asking the fantasy question of which animal they would bring onto the Indy 500 intro stage for the NBC cameras to capture and the 135,000 fans in attendance to see.

Once again, the silliness that lives inside many of IndyCar’s best and most popular drivers emerged when the question was posed, and for others, deeper looks inside their personalities and thought processes were returned.

Altogether, nearly half the field, plus a seven-time NASCAR champion who just might partake in the 2022 race, weighed in with their animal and rationales.

As we near the end of serious stories and reports ahead of the 105th Indy 500, here’s a comedic palate cleanser leading into the race with the biggest assortment of jokers in motor racing.

CONOR DALY: Yeah, I still haven’t come up with anything else yet.

Marshall Pruett: C’mon, man, you started this whole thing off. The bison’s a scratch. You must have a suitable replacement in mind? Something tough and USA?

CD: Sadly, there have been no other majestic creatures offered up yet.

MP: Is there a state animal of Indiana you could use?

CD: I believe it is a bird. I believe it is the cardinal.

MP: Well, that doesn’t make me super stoked for you. Unless you strapped big razor blades to its wings and it chopped up everything it came in contact with.

CD: Maybe we do that.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: That’s a weird question. Geez.

MP: Right?

RHR: Yeah. That is a weird question. I’ll go with a male lion with a huge mane, just dragging on the ground as he’s walking.

MP: Holy ****. Would you have a fake mane of your own going on, to match?

RHR: Yeah, I’d do something to match that. And have a big collar on it, like those guys…the magicians? In Vegas?

MP: Siegfried and Roy.

RHR: Something like that. But yeah, I think that would be my animal.

JACK HARVEY: I would honestly channel my most inner Brit for something like that. I would want to ride in on a lion with the Queen’s crown on the lion.

MP: Not on you, on the lion?

JH: So, on a lot of our lions, they have crowns; I think that’d be pretty cool. Imagine that, riding in with a flag draped over the lion, over me, crowns. Sometimes you’ve gotta go full-Brit, mate.

MP: What about you? What are you wearing? Because clearly you’ve dressed up the lion; you can’t just come in normal. Do you have some sort of staff? What do you have? Because we’ve got to go more Brit here. Eating a giant bowl of curry would be a very British thing.

JH: Super quick side note: Did you know that chicken tikka masala was actually invented in Scotland?

MP: The things we learn… (laughter)

JH: I’m thinking like a James Bond 007 suit, and maybe an English roast dinner in one hand.

MP: Full English breakfast in the other?

JH: Yeah, bacon sandwich for sure. Throw an egg on there. Why not?

MP: Are you tossing eggs to the crowd by any chance? Are you sharing your culture?

JH: I mean, just flick beans at people, mate. Just walk with a plate of beans.

MP & JH: (uncontrolled laughter)

JH: Beans are way less dense in the UK, so it’ll probably work quite well. People will be like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Just got flicked by a bean.’

MP: Good old ‘Beans Harvey,’ coming to the Indy 500.

JH: Let’s not let that stick. That’s not a good one. So bad.

Image by @APEXATX

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, I mean, bison probably would have been my first my first choice but as Mr. Daly has already taken it, and deservedly so, I’m going to ride a moose for very obvious reasons. Wow.

MP: Now, do you decorate the moose? I mean, Jack Harvey was just telling me how he wanted to ride a lion. But yet, with Queen Elizabeth’s crown…not for himself, but on the lion. Do you festoon your moose with anything deeply Canadian or what are we doing here? I don’t see you on a plain moose.

JH: Well, hang on a minute. First of all, I’m very disappointed in Jack as a Brit, and to royalists, that he would insult both the Queen by taking her crown, and thinking the king of the damn jungle would want to wear one. Likewise, the moose is a noble, proud Canadian icon. I don’t know how you more Canadian-ize a moose, short of putting it in a flannel shirt which, quite frankly, would just make it too hot. And so no, I think you ride it as-is because it doesn’t get more Canadian than Hinch riding in on the back of a moose.

MP: I’m thinking one of those little construction worker caps that hold the beers with the Molsons in it and the straws that come down so the moose could be drinking Canadian beer.

JH: I may be holding a pint of maple syrup that I will be drinking.

MP: I think you took a pretty big one off the table here for any other Canadian drivers.

JH: Not to worry. The beaver is still available.

MP: Bears are another thing. The oft-feared bear attack at Mosport.

JH: I think you could come in and have a flock of Canadian geese in a flying V and just terrify everybody else on the grid.

MP: Make sure that you overfeed them the night before.

JH: Incoming!