(Photo Willie T. Ribbs qualifies on Bump day with mins. to spare in 1991)
America loves its traditions, especially its sports traditions. Indy 500 fans are obsessed with their traditions, so race fans are going to be so pleased to hear that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is getting back to normal with the return of the Iconic 'Bump Day' when someone may get bumped out of their bubble , and someone else will get their last chance for a final opportunity to race in the historic Indianapolis 500.
In 2022 there were not enough cars to have bump day, so it was canceled. Fans missed the drama and intensity.
It is a thrilling and bittersweet, and sometimes painful time for race fans.
One famous Bump Day I remember well was in 1991 when Willy T. Ribbs created a big blast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at over 219 , 224 miles an hour, qualifying with an average speed of 217 miles per hour.
The story of how Willie T. Ribbs made into the Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day is the topic of the movie Uppity, about Ribbs and his sponsor Bill Cosby, who finally made it into "the show" and made history as the first.
The first Black Driver and Ribbs was a champ and deserved that place.
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"The curtain was getting ready to come down. And it was coming down, when I went out to qualify," Ribbs recalled in an interview.
With just 45 minutes left on bump day in 1991, Willy T became the first Black driver to qualify for the Indy 500.
"I could feel the energy, the energy from a lot of people who wanted me to be in that race," he said.
Willy T. finished 32nd after engine failure and raced in just one more 500 two years later.
Watch the footage as the crowd cheers him on like crazy.
There are a lot of ups and downs on Bump Day. The failures are painful.
"Famous failures to qualify – such as Fernando Alonso and McLaren in 2019 and the Penske team in 1995 – are part of the Indy 500 legend, and even amid smaller overall entries in recent decades, there have been 24 failures to qualify since IndyCar and Champ Car merged in 2008, though some of them still found their way onto the grid after all," Marshall Pruett reported for Racer, in 2022 when Bump Day was canceled.
NTT has the details of 2023 Bump Day, which comes back with the announcement that there are more cars who want to drive than spots that are open. Here we go:
Bumping Will Be the Highlight of an Intense Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Format
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, April 27, 2023) – Bumping is back at the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Thirty-four cars will compete for 33 starting spots in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” during exciting PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We know how much our loyal fans love the ‘race within the race’ to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and bumping will add even more drama this year,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We can’t wait to see the cars trimmed out for maximum speed in two of the most pressure-packed days in global motorsports, setting the field for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.”
There’s also more at stake during qualifying than just a spot in the race Sunday, May 28. The top 12 drivers on the starting grid will receive NTT INDYCAR SERIES points, with the NTT P1 Award winner earning 12, the No. 2 starter 11 and then in descending order to the No. 12 starter earning one extra point.
A look at the qualifying format for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge (all times Eastern): DAY ONE: Saturday, May 20
11 a.m.-5:50 p.m.: Full Field Qualifying (Live on Peacock, also 2:30-4:30 p.m. on NBC) Qualifying will take place for positions 1-30. Positions 13-30 will be set, and those drivers will not requalify Sunday.
When every car in the qualifying order for Saturday has been presented at least one chance to qualify, teams may choose from two lanes for second and subsequent attempts. Cars in the priority lane (Lane 1) must withdraw their qualified time – if the car has one – but get priority access to the track ahead of Lane 2. Lane 2 is for cars that have already qualified but wish to improve their position. Once cars are outside of the Top 30, they are considered to not have a qualification speed as only positions 1-30 will be locked in during Day One.
DAY TWO: Sunday, May 21
2-3 p.m.: Top 12 Qualifying (Live on Peacock)
Positions 7-12 will be determined. The order is based on Saturday times, slowest to fastest. Each car is guaranteed one attempt. The fastest six advance to the Firestone Fast Six to determine positions 1-6. 4-5 p.m.: Last Chance Qualifying (Live on NBC)
Positions 31-33 will be determined. Each car is guaranteed one attempt and may make multiple attempts until time expires. Each car’s most recent qualification speed will remain eligible for the starting lineup until the time is withdrawn or qualifications end.
5:15-5:45 p.m.: Firestone Fast Six (Live on NBC)
Positions 1-6 will be determined. The order is based on times from Top 12 Qualifying earlier Sunday, slowest to fastest. Each car is guaranteed one attempt. The fastest driver in the Firestone Fast Six will earn the coveted NTT P1 Award for pole.
Tickets for PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying, practice days and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge are available at www.ims.com.
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