This Memorial Day weekend marked the annual Indianapolis 500, or more commonly known as “Indy 500”, on Sunday, May 28 with its 101st running where it started and ended with history.
Takumo Sato, a driver from Japan not only won the 500 mile race, but according to CNN, has made history as the first winner to be from an Asian country. Beginning his career back in 2002, Sato originally raced in Formula One, a similar racing event,although with a more complicated track, and then transferred to the Indy races in 2011.
According to Sports Illustrated, Fernando Alonso a Spanish driver, also a Formula One racer, had high expectations to place first in the race but that was cut short after his engine blew out with just 20 laps to go although that wasn’t the first unexpected event.
Scott Dixon and Jay Howard, both European drivers, were involved in a collision, causing Dixon’s car to spin in the air before impacting with a fence. Even with such a terrifying, intense crash, both drivers walked off the scene unharmed, according to CNN.
Despite the intense race, it was Sato who won it all in the end. Having a top ten position throughout the race, Sato was able to hold the first place position in the last few 200 laps, keeping three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in second place.
In an interview with CNN shortly after the race, Sato described his win to be “an unbelievable feeling”.
ESPN reported that in the final laps it’s better to be in second place, due to it being easy for a first place position driver to lose their spot. However, Sato beat the odds.
“With three laps to go I really didn’t know but I just knew I had to go for it,” Sato told CNN, referring to how he stayed steady in his first place position.
Despite the intense race in Indianapolis being over a 2,000 mile distance from Helix, there was still a Helix Alumni connection with the delivery of the checkered flags.
The checkered flag is one of the most recognizable parts of almost all automobile races as it is waved only after a racer is declared a winner after completing the final lap.
Due to event being the 101st running of the Indy 500, the 101st Airborne Division was granted the opportunity to deliver the flags, specifically by 1992 Helix Alumni and Army Ranger, Alfred Tello.
The 101st Airborne Division is a “specialized light infantry division” of the U.S. Army that originates all the way from World War I, however became active during World war II. It is a historical piece of American Military, and no better day to be honored than this Memorial Day weekend at the Indy 500.
Tello was given the “humbling” honor of delivering the flag across the track after being picked by his Commander due to him “being the more experienced guy”.
“He [Commander] wanted to make sure it went smoothly,” Tello claimed.
In front of hundreds of thousands audience members at the race, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division jumped out of a 101st Airborne helicopter and onto the track to deliver the checkered flags and the American Flag.
“It was totally a lot of pressure,” Tello revealed with a laugh, “But it was good pressure, it made me want to do everything perfectly.”
Tello continued to describe the “good pressure” caused from the huge crowd watching both there and live on T.V., saying it gave him “butterflies” because “the checkered flags are as much part of the race as the race cars”.
Tello’s fellow soldiers, Sgt. Marcial and SFC. McBride claimed it was a proud moment to represent the military, especially this Memorial Day weekend, describing how good it felt to be supported by Americans and how “nervous” but “proud” they all were.
The Indy 500 provided both an incredible race and an honorary moment for the men who serve our country.