Conor went from F1 to GP3 to IndyCars in a matter of days. Read the first chapter here. -Ed.
It was incredible to see so many people downtown for the Indy 500 Festival Parade. What was happening the next day was really starting to sink in. I kept getting this feeling in my chest and stomach region, a feeling of anticipation and excitement like I've never felt before. I was excited, but honestly I didn't want the whole experience and month to end.
Luckily I was able to put all these feelings away and get some sleep. I slept right through the big bomb going off Sunday morning to signal the gates opening, so I thought that was a good start. It was all really happening -- it was race day.
I just wanted to get going, I knew it was going to be an incredibly challenging day learning something new every lap but I just wanted to get into and get to the finish. The pre-race buzz was like nothing I've ever experienced in my life -- people everywhere as early as they could get there.
I got to meet some celebrities who were far cooler than me on the red carpet over by the pagoda and enjoy some time with most of my family that were all there to witness the biggest day of my existence. But it was then time to start heading to the “green room” to get ready for driver introductions and all that jazz. It seemed to be a strategic bathroom usage time, though, because there were only two bathrooms upstairs from where we were in the pagoda and there was always a line.
Tony Kanaan and I were waiting in line when someone told us we could use some other restrooms in a different area, so we both went to find these toilets. It was actually a cool moment for me because as we walked it was nice to talk with a dude who is incredibly fast around the Speedway and I needed all the help I could get. We proceeded to a women's restroom somewhere else in the pagoda and there were two stalls which we occupied separately. We continued to talk about the race, and on the way back to the green room I told him he had to win this one... Needless to say I felt pretty good about that comment a few hours later!
As I lined up for driver intros, I had a tweet typed up on my phone that wouldn't go out because phone service was pretty much toast with all the hundreds of thousands of people around, but the tweet simply said, “This is the coolest thing ever. #indy500orbust.” Something I had watched ever since birth, a pre-race ceremony I had memorized, a feeling that gave me goose bumps ever since I was a kid, was all happening around me and I was a part of it.
Being introduced to what seemed like the entire world was something I will never forget, I even made sure to take pictures on my phone to make sure I absorbed the experience. I thank every single person who cheered or made a noise when they announced my name while I was up on the stage!
We all know what happens after that, songs, flyover, etc. I had a job to do, get in the car and get ready to drive 500 miles. I won't lie, though, I almost had a feeling of joyful tears as the national anthem was being sung. I can't stop telling people, it was the coolest feeling I've ever felt, getting buckled into the car and firing up the engine. It was finally time to start the most massive and incredible racing event on planet Earth (there are no arguments on that, you're wrong if you think differently).
The parade laps were absolutely fascinating, I have never actually seen how many people are all around the entire racetrack. I had one of the best seats in the house, though, so I was happy!
Three by three we went into Turns 3 and 4 getting ready to take the green. Next thing I knew I was being a nancy into One because I felt like I was being sucked into some sort of vortex with all the air turbulence. Oh well, I made it through and began to figure out what it was like with a lot of cars in front of me, The entire field, in fact...