Thursday, January 13, 2011

Frenetic Friday -- Raise Them to the Rafters Edition

In other sports, it is common for teams to retire numbers to symbolically recognize great players or historical moments. It would be a neat addition to the Centennial celebration if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would "retire" a few significant numbers in the race's history. Here would be a great place to start:

1 -- For decades the car that won the "national" championship the previous season typically wore this number the next season. It's also been a successful number at the Speedway, as the winner has carried this number to Victory Lane seven times (3rd most all-time) and has sat on the pole a record 13 times. Unfortunately that tradition seemed to go away as drivers and teams were identified more and more with specific car numbers but setting aside the No. 1 would be a nod to the heritage of open wheel racing.
4 -- Winning the Indy 500 is the dream of almost anyone who straps himself (or herself) into a race car, and it is the accomplishment of a lifetime to get to Victory Lane. While someday someone may add their face alongside A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr. on the Mount Rushmore of racing, it's a good bet no one will ever win the 500 more than four times.

14 -- A.J. Foyt...'nuff said. Next to the late Dale Earnhardt's No. 3, this might be one of the most famous driver/number combinations in motorsports history. While his team should be able to use 14 (which is currently being carried by Vitor Meira) for as long as it likes, it should never be run by another organization.
32 -- Ray Harroun...Marmon Wasp...winner of the first Indy 500. After 100 years it's all almost mythical. 'Nuff said No. 2.

I'm not saying the series should start finding reasons to retire numbers left and right, unless they want to become like the Boston Celtics. But there are a handful of numbers that are special to the sport, and specifically the 500, and those should be recognized in a special way.

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