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Up to Speed: On Flying an IndyCar

“When I lost control, the car spun out and went backward for a split second. All of a sudden, I felt the rear coming up, and I thought, What’s going on?

“Then I saw the sky.

“It was like, I don’t know, when you do a flip into a swimming pool. I closed my eyes, because I didn’t want to see what was coming.

“When I opened them, I heard the voice of Roger [Penske] saying, ‘Are you okay?’ I was like, ‘Wow, I actually am okay. What happened?’

“I wasn’t even sore the next day. Hey, it looked more impressive than it was. Like, three hours later, we were back in the car again. That just proves the safety of the track and the car—and most important, the safety crew, how quickly they responded.

“If it had been in years past, I don’t think I would’ve had the same luck.”


This article is part of IM’s special May 2016 coverage of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.


Since first joining Indianapolis Monthly in 2000, West has written about a wide range of subjects including crime, history, arts and entertainment, pop culture, politics, and food. His feature stories have twice been noted in the Best American Sports Writing anthology and have received top honors from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The Collapse,” West’s account of the 2011 Indiana State Fair tragedy, was a 2013 National City and Regional Magazine Awards finalist in the category of Best Reporting. He lives on the near-east side.