Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told reporters Monday that he barely remembered the crash and flying debris that left him injured after the start of Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
“I just knew something hit me,” Mayor Ballard said. “Whether it was metal or carbon fiber, but it was a pretty solid hit.”
It was a control rod from one of the crashed Indy cars that sent Ballard to the IMS medical staff with deep bruising on his left arm and cuts on his side.
“I realized pretty quickly that I’m still standing and I can move my elbow around pretty easily and it was just painful,” Ballard said. “It wasn’t painful immediately, to be frank with you. It was painful about a half hour after.”
The mayor could be considered lucky, since the debris hit his body about a foot and a half from his head. But the incident is likely to prompt changes to next year’s Grand Prix.
IMS President Doug Boles told Fox59 that he and other officials will review the setup for the start of next year’s race. For one thing, the starter waving the green flag probably won’t be standing trackside where the mayor was.
“The flag stand is certainly an option,” Boles said. “The other thing is, with this race, you don’t really need the flagman. It’s the lights the drivers are focused on. So we may just go ahead and let the lights speak for themselves.”
Race officials may also reevaluate the standing start of the race, either with something different or better ways to inform drivers if a car stalls at the starting line.
“Standing starts have been around for a long time,” Boles said. “And that’s one of the risks that you have with a standing start. Rarely does the pole sitter stall on the grid.”
Some specator seating may also be adjusted to give better viewing angles at some of the road course’s turns.
But overall, Boles said he was happy with the first running of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He and other speedway officials say Saturday’s attendance was well over the set goal of 40,000 spectators.
“Absolutely we hit that number,” Boles said. “It’s just a matter of how far above it we actually ended up being. We’re very very pleased with the turnout.”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not release exact attendance numbers to the public.