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Know Your Cuts of Indy 500 History
May 29, 2012 11:22 AM   Subscribe

David Letterman, Indianapolis native, racing fan and Indy Car team co-owner, sat down for an interview about the history of the Indianapolis 500, and its effect on him since childhood. No jokes, no snark, just a knowledgeable and passionate discussion about something he cares for tremendously. Parts one, two, three, and four.
posted by MarvinTheCat (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dave's always seemed like a good fella. I remember when his friend George Miller died, and he did a little tribute to him. It was straight up and low keyed and real.

He's got that surly rep, but I think there are things about show biz he just doesn't like. And I kind of like that about him, too.
posted by Trochanter at 12:31 PM on May 29, 2012


Pretty nice interview. His respect and love for the speedway and the race is genuine and a serious part of him. If you grew-up in Indy through the 50's and 60's (as I did) you'd definitely understand.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:37 PM on May 29, 2012


That was really great.

Did anyone happen to see any of the race this year? Whoa, my eyes still burn and sting from those hideous monstrosities. Congrats IndyCar, you've designed and manufactured the ugliest car on earth. They are the Pontiac Aztek of race cars.

My only criticism is in the beginning of part three where he describes Indy as sacred hallowed ground. Please stop doing this, sportscasters (Looking at you specifically Jim Nantz.) Sporting grounds are neither sacred nor hallowed. Augusta National is not sacred, it's just a well maintained course. Nor is Yankee stadium or the track at Indy.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:42 PM on May 29, 2012


Keith:

I missed the race due to lunch with my parents but did watch this highlight package which was pretty comprehensive. I agree the new car design is pretty ugly but didn't notice it so much in the video. I did notice it a lot when they brought the new car design to the Letterman show during the last Dan Wheldon appearance. Ugly car near the end of the clip.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2012


I think the cars look pretty good, especially in-person. They certainly race better than the previous car. That was a hell of a race this year. Lots of action throughout the field, and not just a single-file follow-the-leader that the old car tended toward. Next season, the individual teams will be allowed to develop their own aero kits for the chassis, so the look of the car will start to evolve.


As for the whole "hallowed ground" thing...I do agree that the sportscasters should drop the continual evocation of solemnity, but it's part of their job, I suppose. I does become cringe-inducing. However, to the participants (and Dave, as a team owner, is certainly a participant) places like Indy, with, literally, a century of history behind it, is an extremely important place in their lives.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2012


My only criticism is in the beginning of part three where he describes Indy as sacred hallowed ground. Please stop doing this, sportscasters (Looking at you specifically Jim Nantz.) Sporting grounds are neither sacred nor hallowed. Augusta National is not sacred, it's just a well maintained course. Nor is Yankee stadium or the track at Indy.

Die-hard sports fanatics can be just as fanatical ar religious zealots. Unless Soldier Field could be just as "hallowed" as the Vatican, Wembly as much of a mecca as Mecca. Unless you are a believer in some specific set of beliefs that denies the validity of any other set of beliefs, how can you deny the "piety" of these adherants?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2012


I remember watching Letterman a long time ago, an he had a guest... a ten or elven year old boy. He'd been digging around in the dirt with his scout troop, I think it was, and he'd found a bone of some sort and took it to his teacher/scoutmaster who had it analyzed and it was actually a dinosaur bone and that the palentologists were going back to the area to look for more in case it was a large find. I'm pretty sure that that was the basic gist of it, as I said it was a while ago. This kid was soooo proud that he'd found a real dinosaur bone and talked to scientists about it! I would've been too, because it would've been Pure Awesome.
Letterman made fun of the boy, made fun of his discovery. He talked around the boy's answers and over the boy's head, and when Letterman made a rhetorical joke towards boys, or scouts, or digging in the dirt, the boy said politely (and I remember this really well), "I don't understand what you mean by that question.", Letterman made some derisive remark and laughed at him. So did the audience. Laughed AT the boy who had the coolest dinosaur bone and was super-proud of it. He sat there looking down at the cool bone and was laughed at.

A friend despised him for the same reason, so when Letterman had that heart issue that put him in the hospital, we thought that was strange because he didn't have one.

I'm sure cars are really important though, and I'd love to hear about the old days of cars, but I'm out of time tonight. G'night folks!
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:51 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Zack_Replica: Wow, that's pretty shitty if true. I always thought Letterman was pretty decent in the stuff I saw him in. Do you have a cite (video pref.) so we can see if you not just mis-remembering a clip from a long time ago?
posted by lazaruslong at 2:36 PM on May 29, 2012


Zack_Replica: I don't remember that specific episode but it doesn't surprise me. The guy can be a professional grade jackass.

I think one of the most interesting things about Mr. Letterman is the difference between pre-heart-attack, pre-kid, alcoholic Dave and post-heart-attack, non-drinking, Dad Dave.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 2:50 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I _wish_ I could find it. I've looked. I don't know what year it would've been, and searching for Letterman, kid, dinosaur doesn't come up with much, except Dinosaur Jr. If ever I find it, I'm bookmarking it asap. As MarvinTheCat pointed out, there is a huge difference between the personalities pre and post "growing up". His dickheadedness is a reason that Cher said that he was an asshole. Either way, I've heard no apologies for being cruel to people who were doing the same thing that he's doing now, "look at my neat stuff," and cruelty's only funny to the stupid.
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:41 PM on May 29, 2012


I was at the race, in Stand G. i like the new cars... Besides looking good (IMO), they seem to be pretty evenly matched. Lots of contention for the lead this time. Also, it's great to have multiple engine manufacturers again. Everyone thought Chevy had it locked up at Indy, but Honda dominated instead.

Sato was robbed!!1one
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 4:57 PM on May 29, 2012


I was at the race this year, and saw Letterman beforehand tooling around in a golf cart. Got a nice wave from him.
I disagree about the cars this year - they are quite good looking in person. The race was awesome, too - tons of passing, lots of surprises.
posted by Shebear at 5:12 PM on May 29, 2012


Also, it's great to have multiple engine manufacturers again.

Well. Two anyway. Lotus are a total embarrassment to the name at present.

Next season, the individual teams will be allowed to develop their own aero kits for the chassis, so the look of the car will start to evolve.

The regulations for the aero package (detailing what you can and can't change) are unsurprisingly restrictive. There won't be any significant chane in look and a lot of the hideousness (those fucking awful rear pontoons for a start) can't be changed. Shame. Awful, awful looking cars.

Besides looking good (IMO), they seem to be pretty evenly matched.

Part of the reason they race well and are do evenly matched seems to be new car syndrome (limited development time on them so far) and, from the comments I have heard from engineers and drivers is that the car is fucking awful. Dreadful handling. It was very obvious from the in car footage of the street stuff earlier this year that the handling is abysmal. Mind you, it makes for good racing and everyone is in the same boat, so maybe it's no bad thing.
posted by Brockles at 6:14 PM on May 29, 2012


Never cared for letterman. he has a way of mouse trapping his guests, especially those with differing political views. His "comedy" is often lame and so off scale that few in the audience understand. As for the race, Sato was stupid for driving over the white line and will not drive Letterman's car again.
posted by crushedhope at 8:38 PM on May 29, 2012


As for the race, Sato was stupid for driving over the white line and will not drive Letterman's car again.

That' a very odd reading of the situation. The move was on, but he should have backed off when he didn't get any further alongside. It was an optimistic move, but not a foolish one. It certainly wasn't stupid and I'd be very, very surprised it it has any implication at all on whether he retains the seat being as he is almost entirely bankrolled by Honda (and always has been). It's possible it's even a condition of the Rahal Letterman engine deal.
posted by Brockles at 8:47 PM on May 29, 2012


Wait, Letterman is an Indy Racing fanatic and he's never had some racing contest with Leno?

HOW HAS THIS NOT HAPPENED?!?
posted by Chekhovian at 10:07 PM on May 29, 2012


Never cared for letterman. he has a way of mouse trapping his guests, especially those with differing political views

More like Trap door spidering his guests...and the way he did that to W. on the death penalty...that was a thing of beauty. THANK YOU DAVE, Forever, Thank You!
posted by Chekhovian at 11:09 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The moment trap door spider Dave attacks Bush.

Basically:
DL: "Would there ever be a circumstance under which you'd consider changing your mind about the death penalty?"

GWB: "No"
posted by Chekhovian at 5:36 PM on May 30, 2012


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