NEWTON, Iowa – It’s not quite the same without that rich baritone of the late Jim Nabors crooning “Back Home Again in Indiana’’ for 36 times beginning in 1972.
But, that was only part of the tradition that surrounds “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’’
If you can’t get to the “Circle City’’ for the Indianapolis 500-mile race, what better place to watch today on the big screen than “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet.’’
The seven/eighth-mile almost oval of the Iowa Speedway is dwarfed by the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its magic, speed and and cold milk missing, but there is certainly some history.
Like in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 here when today’s polecat in the 500, Ed Carpenter, and then 20-year-old Sage Karam got into a squabble during and after a 300 won by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Carpenter charged Karam for squeezing him dangerously during the race and let the rookie know it while both were at the wheel at 175 miles an hour.
During the race, Carpenter shook his fist and flashed his middle finger at Karam while keeping the other hand on the steering wheel.
Then, the feud continued in the pits afterward when the popular Carpenter, whose stepfather’s family owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, dressed Karam down with a slew of swear words.
In so many words Carpenter bellowed at Karam he was gonna hurt somebody or hurt yourself if you keep drivin’ like that and the face “Indy’’ doesn’t want to do anything about it is bull… .
Carpenter also told Karam he needed to grow up and have more respect for the sport of racing.
In 2018 it may all be in the past for the two.
Today, Carpenter will start on the front row and Karam will be in the eighth row of the 33-car field.
Carpenter and Karam will both be on the starting grid Sunday, July 8 for the 2018 Iowa Corn 300.
There’s no yard of bricks at the Iowa Speedway finish line, but there is now a familiar Iowa trademark, a huge ear of corn painted green and yellow to dress up the most prestigious motor race in the Hawkeye State.
And, while Danica Patrick ran twice in Indy cars at Iowa, she made her racing farewell tour a one-stop today at Indy, where she was third in 2009.
Along with Hunter-Reay, other Iowa Corn 300 (or 250) winners started the 500 today including Josef Newgarden (2016), Helio Castroneves (2017), Tony Kanaan (2010) and Marco Andetti (2011). Unfortunately, James Hinchcliffe, the 2013 Iowa winner, didn’t make the Indy grid this year.
Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, who have run at Iowa several times, were on the front row at Indy with Carpenter.
Another bit of Indy/Iowa history, last year’s Indy Lights winner at Iowa, Matheus Leist, started on the fourth row today in the 500 with Kanaan and Andretti.
- Doesn’t have anything to do with sports, but it seems like a lot of “bands’’ are making a whole lot of noise these days.
- There are some, what you might refer to a diminutive dynasties, in pro basketball history. You know, franchises that might win two, three, even four or five NBA championships, but not all in a row, over a given periods of short time.
The only true dynasty in NBA history was the run of the Boston Celtics, claiming titles in 1957-59-60-61-62-63-64-65-66-68-69.
All those titles revolved around Bill Russell, selected by the Professional Basketball Writers’ Association of America as “Greatest Player in the History of the NBA in 1980.
If I had a vote in 2018 Russell would still get mine.
- A little more on the NBA thing.
Despite what you hear and see on sports talk radio and television there are no current NBA dynasties. Maybe a mini-one/two.
The Golden State Warriors you are led to believe have four surefire Hall of Famers in the starting lineup and can’t even sweep a playoff semifinal.
That’s a dynasty?
The pro basketball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1959 included George Mikan one of the first four inducted.
Since then, the list of honorees has expanded to more than 150 players.
- In international level indoor track where distance races are run on a 200-meter oval, Our Town’s Shelby Houlihan, an East High grad, has such explosive closing speed she’s been compared to a cheetah running down its prey before a kill.
And, she always seems to where a winsome smile at the finish line.
She showed that fierce finishing kick again Saturday with a world best 3:59.06 in the 1,500 meters in the Prefontaine Classic at legendary Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
In a race in the IAAF Diamond League pro circuit, Houlihan roared home well under her previous PR of 4:03.39.
The Olympian trains with the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club in Portland, and prepped for the Pre Classic with several weeks of altitude running in the thin air (7,000 feet) of Mammoth Mountain, California
She’s the reigning USA indoor national champ in the 1,500 and 3,000 and was fourth and fifth, respectively, in those races in the recent indoor IAAF World Championships.
Maybe now, the rest of the state will realize the best native-born Iowan with world class credentials is someone other than Jenny Simpson, who was third.