Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo
Race car drivers are creatures of habit, that much goes without saying. Some have traditions, while others can be quite superstitious. I took some time during the Indy 500 Media Day to speak with some drivers about their superstitions and rituals, here’s what they had to say:
Kyle Kaiser (#32 Juncos Racing) – “I try to get in the car on the same side every time. I also have a specific pair of checkered flag socks, but if I don’t remember to wear them I’m not devastated.”
Simon Pagenaud (#22 Team Penske) – “I meditate before the race because it calms me down and also allows me to focus better. I get a massage and eat at the same time before the race. There’s a sequence of events that we have in place with my team and that happens in my motorhome. I’m very diligent about it.”
Zach Veach (#26 Andretti Autosport) – “I have to get in on the right side of the car, that’s about the only one.”
Stefan Wilson (#25 Andretti Autosport) – “I like to always have all my gear laid out and know that I have it with me because I have this recurring nightmare where I’m down on the grid and I’m missing something. So I just make sure that I’m prepared and ready to go. And I always step into the car from the left side with my right leg first. Ever since I started racing go-karts at nine years’ old that’s always been my superstition.”
Tony Kanaan (#14 AJ Foyt Enterprises) – “I always put my left shoe first and always get in the car from the left side. And I have this lucky underwear that I wear on race day only. It has changed over the years, but I have to say that because I only wear it race day that’s the 2013 (Indy 500) winner underwear.”
Now while many drivers have their superstitions, I’ve also wondered if it’s possible for a single person to be a good luck charm for a driver? So far in 2018, I myself have attended four IndyCar race events so far (Phoenix preseason testing, Long Beach, INDYCAR Grand Prix, and Indy 500 Qualifying). When I went back and looked at the results for those events, there is one driver who finished in the Top 3 in each of those events: Will Power. Power finished P2 at the Phoenix test, P2 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, won the INDYCAR Grand Prix, and is starting P3 in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. While that could just be a coincidence, it’s interesting to note that in the other three races that I didn’t attend Power wrecked (St. Pete, Phoenix, and Barber).
So with this knowledge in hand, I asked Power about the idea of good luck charms. “I try to think of superstitious stuff like that but the pattern never continues to work out,” said Power. “The one pattern that is evident to me over more than a decade racing Indy car is hard work. It’s as simple as that, the harder you work the luckier you seem to get and the more you run at the front.”
The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Tickets remain available at IMS.com.