INDIANAPOLIS – Simon Pagenaud expects to begin “Fast Friday” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by bidding farewell to “Miss Gorgeous.”
His 2008 silver Porsche Cayman S limited edition will be rolled into the Mecum Auctions line this morning at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on the northeast side of Indianapolis, about 10 miles from where Pagenaud is expected to be practicing for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
While Pagenaud will be driving the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet on the IMS oval, his Porsche will be on the block at the auction. It’s one of 2,000 cars being sold to the highest bidder in Dana Mecum’s 30th annual Original Spring Classic six-day event that runs through Sunday.
But this isn’t just any car for Pagenaud. “Miss Gorgeous,” his name for the car, was the Frenchman’s first Porsche and is a unique model — just 100 of the 700 built worldwide were shipped to the United States, and the silver-and-black trim makes it only one of four with its color scheme from that year in the country.
“It’s my baby, really,” Pagenaud said Wednesday as he took one long, last look at his prized possession. “It’s a pretty rare gem. There are so few in the U.S. People don’t even know about this model.”
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Pagenaud bought the car in 2009, just three months after it arrived.
“It was always very special,” he said, smiling. “A quick goodbye, huh? I’m a very sentimental guy when it comes to cars, so I’ve got to leave now. It’s very difficult to let go. She did good. I was obviously getting started in the U.S. She drove me around and never broke down. I only had one flat. She did good. She was a good car.”
The Mecum Auctions listing details such features as a sport exhaust system button, sport mode on suspension, rear wing deployment button, interior silver that matches the body silver, silver seat backs and a Porsche sport style clock and lap time meter.
So why sell if he’s so emotionally attached?
“I just got a new toy and thought it was time to make some space,” Pagenaud said. “I thought this was the best opportunity to make sure she goes for the right price.
“I love the car, but you’ve got to have the space to store it and I’m running out of space. I have cars stored in a warehouse in France, and here the garage is full.”
He politely declined to divulge how much he paid for the car, but expects the winning bid to surpass that. The auction is set up with a reserve price which must be met or he won’t sell.
Pagenaud expects to receive the phone call that his “baby” has secured the necessary bid before the scheduled start of Indy 500 practice at noon ET today. How long did he agonize over the decision?
“It took me awhile,” he said.
He turned to longtime girlfriend Hailey McDermott and said, “Ask Hailey.”
“Years,” she said. “I’m surprised he just got into the golf cart to leave it. He might be the one calling to buy it back.”
She was joking, of course.
Pagenaud couldn’t resist cracking a joke, too, when asked about Mecum Auctions sponsoring driver Sage Karam’s No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet in the Indy 500.
“I’ll keep it if I don’t get the price I want,” he said. “Yeah, I’ll blame Sage.”
Maybe he won’t sell after all?
“Don’t make it harder than it is,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
McDermott said while her man might not want to admit it, he has mixed emotions.
“He’s going to be very sad to see her go,” she said. “He’s trying to play it cool right now, but I think he’ll be a bit disappointed to see her go on Friday, but happy also because she was such a great car and somebody else deserves to have her.”
Pagenaud, who leads the series points after five of 17 races this season, reiterated what matters most in the month of May. His focus is on winning his first Indianapolis 500 in his sixth start.
“Let’s hope it’s a good Friday,” he said. “Here (the auction) doesn’t matter, really. Most important is what happens on the racetrack. This is just fun.”
Fun, but still sentimental.
“When you’ve got to let it go, you let it go,” Pagenaud said. “I’ve had my story with her. I loved her and she gave the love back, but sometimes it’s time to move on.”
Practice is scheduled from noon-6 p.m. ET today and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Engine turbocharger boost is increased 10 kilopascals today, in what equates to an approximate 30 horsepower addition that remains active through the end of weekend qualifying.
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