Tagliani takes us on a trip

Alex Tagliani earned top rookie honours at the Indy 500 last weekend. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

Alex Tagliani earned top rookie honours at the Indy 500 last weekend. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

DAVID CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

If I was a real "reporter" you would be about to read all about Alex Tagliani and the status of his promotional deal with Northlands and Rexall Edmonton Indy and the plans going ahead after his surprising 11th-place finish at the Indianapolis 500.

There you go - that's done.

Circumstances and racing politics have meant that the veteran driver was actually a "rookie" at last Sunday's 500. The top rookie, as it turned out.

Starting 33rd and finishing 11th also earned Tagliani the 'hard charger' award for the 2009 race.

I only wanted to know one thing: How did the world-famous racetrack look through a rookie's eyes.

The answer was full-on Alex. (And confirmed by long-held suspicion that television doesn't really translate the reality of Indianapolis.

So I'm going to do my best to translate his colourful word-stream as real as possible.

Buckle up:

"At Indy, you're a rookie any given time, trust me," said the 36-year-old Montrealer who has been racing since his dad put him in a go-kart. "You need to drive that track to understand how tough it is.

"Instead of a normal oval where the wall is parallel to your car at all times, (at Indy) you're basically approaching a wall facing you at 230 miles an hour!"

Tagliani said he was blown away by the 2.5-mile flat, rectangled speedway. Literally.

"The complex is so big, so wide, so long that if you have, say, a southwest wind, you go into Turn 1, the car will push. You got to Turn 2, it's loose. Turn 3, it's loose. Turn 4, it's push. And the corners - 1 and 2, 3 and 4 - are so close it's very tight to make the adjustments.

"If it's a forward wind, then you're on the nose - it pins the nose down. You have so much front-grip the back of the car is like on ice.

"When you get into Turn 3 and you have the wind on your butt, it lifts the car - so you go in and you're loose. Turn 4 the wind is now in a different direction, blowing sideways, and now you have nasty push. So you're going into the corner and now it's 'Ah, s***!' and you're in the wall."

Tagliani did just that during a practice session.

Tagliani spices his speech with sound effects as he tells of his first time at track level.

"When you're there (in person), then you really, fully understand what 230 miles an hour is. If you are just seeing the camera follow the car, you have no idea of the speed. No idea.

"When they're coming, you don't really hear the cars. You only hear it when it goes by, so you hear (nothing) and then, 'Whoo-ooom!', 'Whoo-ooom!' as they go past you.

"It's like bombs! You feel the wind just grabbing your shirt ... it's just unbelievable.

"The wind displacement when the cars go by?! I'm telling you, a women better not be wearing a short skirt by the pit wall!"

Like a semi going by?

"A semi? Oh, man! More like a Boeing 747."


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