Indy 500 driver intros...by animal

Illustration by Roger Warrick

Indy 500 driver intros...by animal

IndyCar

Indy 500 driver intros...by animal

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SIMON PAGENAUD: I’ve already done it. It was bringing Norman to Victory Lane. So I’ll do it again.

MP: So you’re sticking with Norman, not like a giant version of Norman the dog or something like that?

SP: No, no. My little puppy is my best friend.

MP: All right.

SP: He deserves to be with me.

ALEX PALOU: I think I would bring in an alpaca. I love alpacas. I have never seen an alpaca, but I think they are cute. It’s a cute animal. I think it looks cool. And I think just by the way an alpaca is, I’d look really cool on the driver intros. What do you think? You like it?

MP: I mean, I would have never guessed an alpaca. Ever. No, no. Everyone else chooses lions or whatever, and it’s a little predictable. Alpaca? That’s amazing.

AP: Of course. Everybody would be like, ‘Oh, wow, look at that alpaca, looks amazing.’ And then inside, it would be like a gorilla, like super angry, going to the war.

MP: Would you do anything to the alpaca? I don’t know if it’s representing Spain. We know you love Japan. I saw the little video you did of your (samurai) helmet livery; would it be a samurai alpaca?

AP: I could do something like that. That would be really cool.

Image by @APEXATX

STEFAN WILSON: I’m going to say I’d be riding a jaguar and maybe it’s got like a drape of a British flag on it you know, it’s like got a cape of a British flag. That’s my answer. That’s and that’s probably not going to beat Jack [Harvey’s].

MP: So would you dye the jag’s coat purple? Paying tribute to the Silk Cut Jaguar Le Mans-winning sports car program? I think you might out-Harvey the old ‘bean flicker.’

SW: I don’t even know why he’s got a lion anyway, what’s that? I guess three lions on a shirt. You know, he’s a big football fan. But, you know, Jaguar is a classic British car. So it’s got to be a jaguar, you know?

MP: And no bean involvement in your plan.

SW: Yeah, that’s a bizarre one.

MP: I’m not British, but if I’m the impartial American judge, I think you just kicked Jack’s ass with that.

COLTON HERTA: I would fly in on a pterodactyl, for sure. I would be on top of the pagoda. And I’d be on the pterodactyl’s perch, and we’d swoop down right onto the stage. And I’ll swoop down on the pterodactyl and it won’t even stop flying. I’ll just jump off that and then it’ll go straight up and just perch itself right in front of the start-finish line. So straight from the pagoda, swoop down, jump off, land on my spot, and then the pterodactyl just takes off.

MP: Do you train your pterodactyl to grab Dixie and VeeKay? I mean, the front row’s all yours?

CH: Yeah, I’m sure the thing’s got talons. I could probably mess up some people but no, I think it’s more just for commercial use.

MP: Colton Herta’s Jurassic Park, coming to Valencia, California.

PIETRO FITTIPALDI: A black panther. I think they’re in the Amazon. Could you imagine that? Like, it’s not as big as a bison, but it’s super sleek and fast.

MP: Would you dress it up in any way?

PF: No, I’d just leave it in its natural colors. And then I’d be like, with my suit down without like a shirt and I’d put this tribal tattoo on my body.

MP: Permanent, or just like henna for the day?

PF: Definitely permanent. If I’m riding a panther, I’m definitely tattooing myself and I’m gonna stay with that panther. I think there’s a meaning to the tattoo.

MP: You’re the first driver to add the tattoo. I knew, Pietro, you were gonna deliver for us.

PF: What would you go with? Let’s say you’re racing, Marshall, or you’re engineering. Whatever your choice is. What would be the animal?

MP: I mean, I don’t know if I could ride anything because I’d kill it because I’m so fat. I’d flatten those animals.

PF: You want an aggressive creature, or like a pretty calm one? Do you want something intimidating?

MP: Since we’re going fantasy. King Kong? King Kong. Yes. Think of that. Right? Because he seems cool. I’ve watched the last couple movies. And again, I know he’s not real, but as I learned in the last movie, he knows sign language. Yeah, so we could talk; we’d probably be talking smack about a lot of people. But imagine that.

PF: You’d be like almost like his little baby. You’d be taken care of. You’d be sitting on his shoulder.

MP: Totally, and the guy would be leaning up against the pagoda just to chill.

PF: You’d be a race engineer with your headset sitting on King Kong. See?

MP: And I’d be the spotter, too, because I’d have the best view.

PF: I didn’t even think of that. I probably would have gone for King Kong, too.

Image by @APEXATX/original photo by Eric Oelke

MP: You could go for Godzilla. Yeah. Wow. We’ve solved most of the world’s problems, my friend.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: For me, I would want something with high performance. You know, something that’s gonna lead the pack. So I’d choose a saber-toothed tiger. That’s what I would do.

MP: So you’d bring an extinct animal to life. And that would be your choice.

JN: Yeah. I mean, I’ve not been presented with any rules.

MP: That’s pretty awesome. Now, would you ride the saber-toothed tiger? And would there be any concerns? You might actually be eaten before the race.

JN: Well, you got to befriend the saber-tooth, you know. I think they’re very conscious about their teeth. They’re super cool, so just trying to reinforce that friendship.

MP: So would you become friends by like brushing its teeth? Would that be the bonding thing?

JN: Yeah, you know, just getting him over that nervousness; they’re awkward with their super awesome, lethal teeth? And you’re like, ‘No, you’re really awesome. And people fear you and like, I want to be friends.’ And so then you become friends. And he lets you ride him, or her, or whatever. Maybe it’s a female saber-toothed tiger, see? And yeah, you get to go into the race and basically scare everybody.

MP: How do you think your teammates would react? And what animals do you think your teammates would choose? Because you and I know, between Power and Pagenaud, specifically, we’re going to have some serious concerns.

JF: I feel like feel like Will would be brought into the track in a kangaroo pouch. That’s what you need. And then I just envision Simon on something. I want to come up with just an absurd animal for Simon. Like he comes in like on something that doesn’t even make sense. Like it’s a walrus or something. I don’t even know what Scott would be on. Scott would be on something cool. He would be on a horse. Just something that makes sense. I need to put some thought into that. I’m definitely confident on Will’s answer, though. I think he needs to be brought in inside a nice little kangaroo pouch.

MP: I think you’ve nailed that one.

JR HILDEBRAND: The obvious answer is just go with a **********ing eagle.

MP: Do you call it to fly down from atop the pit suites in Turn 4?

JH: Yeah exactly, it flies down from behind you. How sick would that be if you get it to come down from up there, it lands, and no flinch when it lands on your arm, like out of nowhere. That would definitely be glorious. Otherwise, I would go for whatever was on top of the food chain. I want the animal that’s just going to go ham on everybody else’s ****, so whatever kills a bison. Do I go with a lion?

MP: A lot of lions being chosen. I’m a little disappointed in you. There’s a certain animal on our California state flag.

JH: **** yeah. I’d totally go with a grizzly bear. Just ******* go full blast if you’re going with a bear.

MP: You’ve got to think a grizzly’s gonna jack up almost everything.

JH: Yeah, I’m with you on that. I think nothing messes with a grizzly bear.

MP: Are you going with both? No one’s gone with two animals. Are you going with…

JH: The eagle and the grizzly. Yep.

MP: Holy ****.

JH: I would love anybody to challenge that combo.

MP: So if your eagle is out the end of the suites by Turn 4, every time you come in for a pit stop, does it fly down and land on a perch to stand there over you and your car? Like, AJ has a whistle he uses to call the eagle and fly over you on the way into the pit box? And do you also train it to attack crew members on the teams around you?

JH: I feel like that’s confidential. There’s training going on right now. I’m not giving away all my secrets Marshall.

MP: My only fear is if you have a bad race, like, is AJ gonna invite you over for dinner, get like a nice bottle of Foyt Vinyard wine, and then, five bites in, tell you, ‘By the way, son, you’re eating bear steak.’ You know what I mean? That’s the only thing that I’m a little worried about.

JH: I’m not worried about that.

MP: Bear and an eagle. I mean, you’ve just worn out Daly with whatever he thought was going to be the most American thing ever with a bison. He’s done. He’s tapping out. Boy, well, that’s far better than I could have ever hoped for.

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