Here’s a little secret about reality television, as if it was a secret: Not all the scenes presented to the audience are authentic.
During a soggy Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, second-year NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Christian Lundgaard conceded a concocted moment for an upcoming “100 Days to Indy” episode.
VICE’s film crew was filming him Monday during his first-ever round at Brickyard Crossing, which has four holes inside the racetrack. The money shot would be standing on the tee box at the par-3, seventh hole, where balls in flight to the elevated green would show the Pagoda in the background.
Lundgaard said his first ball hit the green and bounced long off the back. So, he hit another ball, then another.
“I think we all shot four balls to get one (good) one for the camera,” the driver of the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda said, smiling.
Mulligans aside, Lundgaard said he shot 88, outstanding for a 21-year-old Dane who only began playing courses last year when he moved to the U.S. (Lundgaard said he has been going to driving ranges with his father, who lives on a golf course in Denmark, since 2015.)
Lundgaard isn’t the only driver in the INDYCAR SERIES paddock playing golf, especially with Brickyard Crossing so accessible to them. Last week, Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet) shot 80 from the blue tees, then carded a 78 from the whites Sunday.
Graham Rahal (No. 15 United Rentals Honda) must have overheard McLaughlin because he was quick to note that his best round there was “definitely better than a 78.”
“But I’ve played like two rounds in nine months, so it’s not pretty now,” Rahal said of his game.
All three drivers praised Brickyard Crossing for its ability to challenge golfers of all skill levels. Specifically, they enjoy playing Nos. 7, 10 (which has an over-the-hill tee shot) and the challenging four finishing holes.
“From (No.) 15 onward, man, it’s very tough, with that long par-5 (No. 15), a long-par 3 (No. 17) and a long par-4 (No. 18) in there,” McLaughlin said. “The (course) is a place where you have to drive the ball well. It rewards you if you do and punishes you if you don’t.”
Power is ‘Straight Shooter’
Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) will be the subject of an upcoming feature in The Athletic, and several of his rivals and teammates -- past and present -- were asked Tuesday to describe his personality.
Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Shell Powering Progress Team Penske Chevrolet) described him as “the most interesting man” in the paddock, something Power agreed with to a point.
“That’s what they would say,” Power said. “That just means they’re worried about me (beating them) on the track.”
However, Power agreed that he’s “very interesting,” in an awkward sort of way.
“I have an interesting perspective on things,” he said, later adding, “I can be very awkward deliberately. I just find humanity so funny.”
Rahal said he likes that Power is direct, although that, too, can be awkward at times.
“I mean, he told me the other day (that) the reason I don’t win races is because I’m 20 pounds overweight,” Rahal said. “(That) was really nice, which is also inaccurate because I just took my body fat percentage, and it’s pretty damn low for a guy my size.
“But he’s a straight shooter, (and) that’s the one thing I love about him though, he’s a straight shooter in everything he does. I’ve always had a really good relationship with him because I’m a straight shooter, too. If I have a conversation with somebody, I don’t want to hear all the (crap) most of these guys spew out. I just want it as it is, and with Will there’s never any doubt. You’re getting it.”
Rutherford Back at Indy
Even Johnny Rutherford wonders, where has the time gone?
Rutherford is back in Indianapolis, as he has been for the past 60 years. He was a rookie in 1963 with Jim Clark and Bobby Unser, among the five first-timers who made the race. Fun fact: Twenty rookies who entered that year’s event failed to make the field of 33.
Rutherford is 50 years removed from winning the first of his three “500” poles – he set a track record and came just two-tenths of a second from being the first to break the 200-mph barrier in qualifying -- and next year will be the 50th anniversary of his first of his three victories in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Rutherford is 85 years old now, as sharp mentally as they come from that generation. He again drove his car here – by himself – from his longtime home in Fort Worth, Texas, a trek of more than 950 miles. Yes, he stopped on the way.
“For gas, yes,” he said matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, (straight through).”
Rutherford, who again is representing Arrow McLaren at functions this month, spent several minutes Monday sitting on a golf cart with A.J. Foyt, who is 88. They know they aren’t likely to have too many days like these at the Speedway.
“A.J. and I have lost a lot of friends over the years, and it seems like we lose more and more every year,” Rutherford said. “I lost (wife) Betty (in 2019); A.J. lost Lucy (April 5). As they say, time marches on.”