indy 500

Indy 500 Not Just for Those ‘Back Home in Indiana'

Connecticut connections link race fans to Sunday's event.

It’s known as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing": The Indy 500.

This year marks the 106th anniversary running the traditional Memorial Day weekend event. While it is happening in Indiana, the race will have some Connecticut flavor.

The 33 drivers in this year’s field represent multiple countries and among the American drivers is one from Connecticut, Woodbury’s Santino Ferrucci.

“You know, I want to win the race. I really do,” said Ferrucci. “It’s all I think about is winning that race.”

Ferrucci is making his fourth Indy 500 start - a race where he’s never finished worse than seventh. He rolls off 15th on Sunday, his best Indy 500 qualifying position.

“Hopefully it’s a little bit less work for us to do to get into the top-five and hopefully win the thing," Ferrucci said.

The Connecticut connections don’t stop there. "Bringing the action," with his exciting play by play is Ridgefield’s Leigh Diffey.

As an NBC Sports broadcaster, Diffey has called multiple Olympic games. Now, he is set to call his fourth Indy 500.

“When they’re coming to green it’s crazy. You have to remind yourself they’re going to 230, 240 mph,” Diffey said.

Farmington’s Ryan Briscoe has experienced those speeds. During 11 Indy car seasons, he won seven times. His list of accolades is long and includes the 2012 Indy 500 Pole award.

“The Indy 500 I think, for me, as a racing car driver, is just the pinnacle,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe, who still races sports cars professionally, is connected to a team in this year’s Indy 500 field. He has spent the month coaching AJ Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett.

“During the sessions, I am trying to help him with the timing of making passes,” Briscoe said.

Because of the pandemic, this year’s Indy 500 will be the first with a full capacity crowd since 2019, which Briscoe said will change the atmosphere.

“It’s just mind blowing to have like 400,000 people out there in one place and one day,” he said.

As viewers watch from home, their broadcast will be produced by another Connecticut resident. Last year, Rene Hatlelid of Colchester became the first woman to produce the Indy 500.

She will once again be the creative mind behind the content. Diffey describes Hatlelid as shy, until she prepares to go on air.

“When she gets in the production truck and puts her headset on to talk to the entire production truck, she’s a beast,” said Diffey, complimenting her decisive direction and leadership.

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