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It was a warm night on Washington Street, and stars of sport and entertainment merged to join Snakepit Ball partygoers at the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom. "We earned this weather after this winter," Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard told IM. We caught up with a few local and national notables on the checkered carpet to gauge their Race Day thoughts and ask them to reveal whom they're rooting for to claim the elusive Borg-Warner Trophy. Here are excerpts from those conversations:
ANDREW LUCK, Colts QB: "I got to know Charlie Kimball a little bit, and I always pull for him. It was a crazy story [when he was ill at 2013 Indy 500]. He raced very well after that. Josef Newgarden, is solid, solid, and Pippa Mann, who's his racing partner. I root for everybody!"
BUTLER BLUE III, university mascot extraordinaire: "Ed Carpenter! He's a good Butler Bulldog."
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN, American Songbook revivalist: "It is so nice to have a virgin experience at this stage in my life. And so I will be coming with great expectations but no attachment to any particular driver. I was told that there are many traditions that require the imbibing of a drink at certain moments. ... That's who I am, the patina of high[brow], and the essence of low underneath."
COLE HAUSER, TV/film actor: "You know, I could lie and say I do. I really don't know much about Indy. This is a great experience to kind of get firsthand understanding of what these guys are capable of doing. I met Al Unser Jr. during the race about a month ago in Long Beach, and he's the king of the Beach down there. ... He's gonna be out here, and he'll educate me. ... I guess what I've been hearing is that, when the cars hit the front straightaway, just that roar of the engines. I love the sound of a good engine. I've done 189 [mph], never 200. I did it on the Autobahn in Germany. .... I was young and dumb."
JOSH KAUFMAN, a winner days ago of The Voice: "Honestly, no. I'm just there to experience the whole thing and have fun with it."
NICK GOEPPER, Sochi Olympic bronze medalist (slopestyle skiing): "Sage Karam. He's a rookie tomorrow, and, I think, the youngest guy in the race. I got to hang out with him a little bit yesterday, and his team. I'm pulling for him and hope he does well. I've never really been around racing before, and he's just super-inspiring. I think he's ... he's a bad dude."
GRACIE GOLD, also a Sochi Olympic bronze medalist (figure skating): "I haven't followed it that closely even though I watch it every year. Juan Pablo Montoya's back, and I've also been following [Kurt Busch], the one who had a horrible crash in practice yesterday. It was all over my Twitter feed."
An unnamed 500 Festival princess who scurried off (to more of her duties, no doubt) before we could get her name: "Will Power. I just like his accent. But Will Power—I mean, that is commanding. It's like he has to win. His last name is Power."
MAYOR GREG BALLARD: "I would really like Ed Carpenter to win. He had a great car last year, got the pole last year, finished 10th. He's got a great car again, got the pole again, and so I hope he comes through. ... It'd be nice to see that, or to see Helio [Castroneves] get his fourth."
WINNIE BALLARD, first lady of Indianapolis: "Helio. He's a nice guy. He knows me already, so that's good, right? But also Ed Carpenter would be a great one to win, too."
Photos by Tony Valainis; video by Enrique Fernandez
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