Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sunday's Race Renamed the Indy Jones 500

This Sunday brings the 92nd edition of the Indianapolis 500. In the U.S., NASCAR generally gets more attention than the IndyCar Series. However, the Indy Racing League has big plans for this year’s event, aligning the race with another Indy who will attract a huge audience this weekend. Sunday’s competition has officially been renamed the Indy Jones 500.

The rechristening of the race is in reference to this week’s release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The anticipated blockbuster promises to provide two hours of non-stop thrills. The Indy Jones 500 will last a bit longer, but it has already been dubbed “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” 2008 will represent the third consecutive year the race will have a clear cinematic link. Last year’s champion, Dario Franchitti, is married to Ashley Judd. And the 2006 edition, in a shocking upset, was won by Harry Potter. In honor of the movie connection, this year’s starting command will be, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines – and please turn off your cell phones.”

Numerous adjustments have been made to connect this year’s race with the film franchise. Instead of a Corvette, the pace car will now be a Mustang. Therefore, like Indiana Jones, the race will be represented by an old Ford. Rather than Rahal Letterman or Andretti Green, all drivers will be members of the Spielberg Lucas team. Additionally, the procedure to be followed after crashes will be radically different. Instead of the use of a caution flag, Steven Spielberg will yell, “Cut!” Rather than departing the race, the driver will then get to do another take.

The competitors will have plenty of direct connections to Indiana Jones. Their racing uniforms will include a fedora and a leather jacket. Also, every time they leave the pit area and return to the track, John Williams will conduct the Purdue University marching band in playing the triumphant Indiana Jones theme music. Additionally, as part of their pre-race routine, many of the racers will lecture university students about archaeology.

In typical editions of the Indy 500, meeting the wall at high speed is the greatest concern. However, the Indy Jones 500 will provide far more obstacles. The race will begin with the drivers fleeing a giant boulder. At other stages, they will be chased by Nazis. Occasionally, snakes will be thrown into their cars. On the bright side, competitors will be allowed to use a whip to fend off other drivers.

This year’s aftermath will also depart from the norm. Instead of the Borg Warner Trophy, the winner will be awarded the Ark of the Covenant. Because anyone who looks at it is destroyed, it is highly unlikely that next year’s race will have a repeat champion. Averting one’s gaze at the Ark may not even be enough, as the celebratory milk will likely be poisoned.

It remains to be seen who that champion will be. Scott Dixon was the fastest qualifier, and Dan Wheldon and Hélio Castroneves are also among the favorites. However, no one represents bigger box office than Danica Patrick. It’s entirely possible that the Indy Jones 500 could end with a female in the lead. With the phrase “female lead” connected to Indy Jones, there’s one particular key to success for Danica: Be like Karen Allen, NOT Kate Capshaw.