By CLIFF BRUNT
The Indianapolis 500 Victory Awards Celebration always provides great comedy. It is the annual event during which the checks from Sunday’s race are handed out. One of the highlights each year is the music chosen for the drivers. Each driver who goes up to the stage to get a check, thank his sponsors and crack jokes is introduced with a song that relates to his name or the number of his or her car. Some of the connections require some depth of music knowledge to understand. Most are hilarious and occasionally inappopriate.
Here are six memorable song choices from Monday night.
Will Power – The Power, Snap, 1992
Link: The Power
This couldn’t have been funnier. Will is a quiet Australian who likely doesn’t listen to old-school rap. Couldn’t have found a song more opposite of his personality. A stroke of genius.
Sebastian Saavedra – Seventeen, Winger, 1988
My mouth dropped when this one played, as did many others. Saavedra is a 21-year-old from Colombia who was born in 1990, so of course, you break out a hair band song. Excellent. The connection? He drives car number 17. I was 13 when the song came out, so it wasn’t offensive at the time. Now, I’m 37 and I have questions. Well, too late now. I just did extremely modified headbanging and ignored my concerns.
Sebastien Bourdais – 7, Prince and the New Power Generation, 1992
Link: 7 (Prince)
Bourdais is a Frenchman who drives car No. 7. Any excuse to play Prince is acceptable. This is probably the only Prince song during which every woman in the building wouldn’t have immediately moved towards the stage and started dancing.
J.R. Hildebrand – Real American (Hulk Hogan wrestling theme), Rick Derringer, 1985
Link: Real American
This song is known the world over as Hulk Hogan’s entrance music. It was perfect for Hildebrand because of the camouflage design on his car. Best of all, Hulkamania ran wild all over Indianapolis Motor Speedway, brother!
Justin Wilson – Hold On, Wilson-Philips, 1990
Link: Hold On
Only two people in the whole building “got it” and laughed out loud. You would have had to know the name of the band. Better yet, the thought of a race car driver being introduced while having the perfect harmony of Wilson-Phillips playing in the background was absolutely surreal.
Ryan Briscoe – It Takes Two, Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, 1988
Link: It Takes Two
The connection is that he drives the No. 2 car. There is no other connection. Briscoe might vaguely remember the song, but probably not. He was born in Australia in 1981. Personally, for me, it was very difficult to hold back from busting lyrics in the middle of this black tie event.
Other comedic moments:
Helio Castroneves and Alex Tagliani trying to convince Dario Franchitti to try Dancing with the Stars.
Castroneves explaining that the famed yellow suit he wore during “Dancing” was tight, but not spandex, as Tagliani claimed.
Castroneves joking that he has seen Franchitti dance after he drinks Tequila.
Marco Andretti saying his check probably wouldn’t cover the damage to his car. “I’m sure we’re going to need every bit of that to put this back together.”
Ryan Briscoe telling Franchitti he already considered him a legend way back when he was still a kid driving go-carts.
Tagliani thanking God for his “smoking hot wife,” a nod to Will Ferrell’s line in Talladega Nights.
The constant jokes about emcee Dave Calabro’s heavy makeup, topped off by Tony Kanaan bringing lipstick to the stage. Katherine Legge kicked off the joke session in classic fashion: “Wow, you’ve got more makeup on than me tonight!”
Rubens Barrichello, who at 40 was rookie of the year. “It’s great to be a rookie at 40. It makes me feel so young.”
Charlie Kimball on the Ganassi team: “They’ve taught me everything I know, but not everything they know.”
James Hinchcliffe, to Franchitti: “I really hope someday you get sick of all this winning and let the rest of us do it.”
And the best one: Takuma Sato, who tried a risky inside pass on Franchitti at the end of the race: “I’m small, but I need a little bit more room.” His comment drew the loudest roar of the night, and drew a thumbs up from Franchitti’s wife, Ashley Judd.