John Andretti, trying to combine Indy and stock car racing, has put together a logistic jigsaw puzzle to enable him to drive in the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., on the same day.
The 366-mile trip in a business jet will take about 53 minutes, but that is only one part of the puzzle.
Andretti--Mario's nephew and Michael's cousin--will start the Indy race at 11 a.m. EDT, with the estimated conclusion at 2:20 p.m. Five minutes later, he will hop in a helicopter for Mount Comfort airport and the jet flight to Concord Regional airport, near Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 4:33 p.m., he will board another helicopter and arrive at the track at 4:40 p.m. The 600 will start at 5.
Qualifying will pose more problems.
Andretti will be in Sears Point, Calif., on Friday to qualify for a Winston Cup stock car race, then take a private jet that night back to Indianapolis for Saturday's 500 time trials. Saturday night he will return to Sears Point for the Sunday race.
On Wednesday, May 25, he will be in Charlotte for night qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600, then will return to Indianapolis for carburetion day Thursday. On Saturday he will be back in Charlotte for the final day's practice, then plans to jet back to Indianapolis that night to prepare for the Indy 500 on Sunday.
And what if Andretti wins the Indy 500?
"I'll drink the milk here and give the winner's interview in Charlotte," he said.
The closest anyone has come to Andretti's marathon is Donnie Allison, who did the same double in 1970, but on different days. He drove in the Indy 500 on a Saturday, finished fourth and was selected rookie of the year. He flew to Charlotte that night and on Sunday won the World 600.
Allison's fourth place was the highest finish of any NASCAR driver at Indianapolis.
Allison was driving a second car for A.J. Foyt that year. Andretti's Indy car this year is co-owned by Foyt and Indianapolis restaurateur Jonathan Byrd.
Mike Groff, driving one of Bobby Rahal's Honda-powered Lolas, became the first driver to hit the wall Monday when the engine apparently let go. The car spun into the south short chute barrier. The car was damaged, but Groff escaped with only a bruised foot.
Taking advantage of cool early morning weather, Michael Andretti posted Monday's fast lap of 227.038 m.p.h. in his Reynard-Ford only four minutes after the track opened.
Emerson Fittipaldi, with a new Mercedes-Benz engine in his Penske chassis, was next fastest at 226.512.
PPG Cup champion Nigel Mansell made his first appearance on the track and worked his way up to 220.978 in 30 laps.