Regarding Topic A: According to Randy Bernard, the answer appears to be yes. "We haven't had a race since 1947 that didn't have that many cars (33)," Bernard told the AP. "We have to do everything we can to make sure we get 33."
The problem? This pertains to Topic B. Jay Penske, son of Roger and owner of Dragon Racing, recently sued Lotus, one of the three engine manufacturers associated with the IZOD IndyCar series (the other two being Honda and Chevy). According to Penske, Lotus has committed worse crimes than merely manufacturing a slow engine (which itself led to the dissolution of Lotus's partnership with two other IndyCar teams, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which switched to Chevy after forming a partnership with Panther Racing, and Bryan Herta Autosports, which signed with Honda); Penske alleges that Lotus has committed fraud, breach of contract, and "other unlawful acts," and seeks $4.6 million in damages.
So far, Lotus has been mum on the matter. But one thing is for sure: Lotus won't be supplying engines for Dragon Racing drivers Katherine Legge and Sébastien Bourdais - and so far, neither Chevy nor Honda has agreed to step in. That means there are currently only 31 car/driver combinations in play instead of the traditional 33. Add to that the fact that 47-year-old rookie and former F1 driver Jean Alesi, piloting one of the two Lotus machines remaining in the field (the other being driven by Simona de Silvestro), has not yet passed his rookie test, and the situation appears yet bleaker.
All that being said, it is this fanatic's opinion that there will indeed be 33 cars on the grid this May. And it so happens that a particularly credible source agrees with me: AJ Foyt. "Have you ever seen, in your life, the Indianapolis 500 start 31 cars and not 33?" Foyt said recently. "What makes you think that's going to happen now? I'm quite sure the field will be full."
And if it isn't? If, by some series of unfortunate events, a mere 31 - or, worse, 30 - cars line up three abreast on race day, it will of course be regrettable. But in the end, I don't think it will detract from what I predict will be an amazing race. The field this year is simply too strong. It's no exaggeration to say that there are at least 15 drivers who could reasonably win this thing, plus a few additional dark-horse drivers. Whether the race starts with 33, 31, or 30 cars, there will be just one in Victory Circle - and getting there is going to be one hell of a battle.
[A+E] Sports + Recreation
[A+E] Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Festivals + Parties