Indianapolis tire test gathers data for 100th Indy 500, while track springs for free lunch for fans


Wednesday was more than just your typical tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Yes, officially, it was a tire test for Firestone, which gathered data for the rubber compound that will be used in tires in next year’s 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, 2016.

Unofficially, it was a laid back, fan-friendly affair – but with a very unique twist: the Speedway even catered a free lunch (Jimmy John’s) for those fans that attended.

What a deal!

Let’s go through some of the testing details before we move to some of the top social media elements of the day.

As for the day’s business:

“Every time you have an opportunity to be here, especially with helping Firestone develop even better tires, it’s important,” three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves said after exiting the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet. “The beauty of working with Firestone is they try all the details, and that’s why we’re here.

“It’s about grip – left side and right side – and what line you can take, and they really want your feedback after every run.”

In addition to tires, changes to aerodynamic bodywork components this season and potential changes for next season further magnified the reason for Wednesday’s test.

“It’s very important to Firestone,” said Dale Harrigle, chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports and manager of race tire development. “We were here in 1911 (for the first Indy 500) and we’re going to be here for the 100th running, so it’s a great milestone for Firestone.”

Among drivers that took part in the test – and the concurrent team test that also took place – were Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay and others.

“We don’t get much testing during the season, so it’s great to be here to get ready for next year already,” Pagenaud said. “We’re doing a lot of aero testing.

“With the new aero kit, we didn’t really get a chance to extract the best out of it yet. There’s so much potential; we’re trying to understand all the bits and pieces. There are a lot of combinations that we’re trying.”

Now let’s check some of the best bits and hits from the social media world:

It was especially good to see James Hinchcliffe at the track, taking things in as an observer (although at the same time likely chomping at the bit to get back into a car), along with his buddy Conor Daly.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles really got into the spirit, especially proving that there truly still is a thing like a free lunch.

Boles also touted the speeds some cars reached in this video:

Simon Pagenaud was among drivers that took part in the day-long test.

Other drivers that took part included Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti.

Marco Andretti ran 525 miles – 25 miles longer than the Indy 500 – in Wednesday’s test.

What did he do for an encore? He hopped a plane to head to Sonoma Raceway for yet another test on Thursday in preparation for the season finale on Aug. 30.

Follow @JerryBonkowski