IndyCar mandates two spotters for the Indy 500 race, on the roof of Turn One E grandstand and Turn Three Northeast Vista. Why two? The new Pagoda blocks the view between turns 1 and 3. For the lead-up to the race weekend the secondary spotter at turn 1 is optional but next year it will be mandatory.
So who do the drivers and teams get to act in these key roles? One mistake by a spotter and a driver's whole race could be over, so it has to be the right person.
The KV Racing Technology team always uses two spotters for its drivers, Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro. For TK it's Dave Reininger and Eric Stewart. For De Silvestro it's Michael Crawford and Brian Delaney.
Reininger has been around motorsports longer than he cares to admit, as a journalist and radio show host. He became a spotter after methodically bugging a buddy of his every ten days. Reininger's first job was spotting in 1998 for Roberto Guerro, who wasn't so sure he wanted a rookie in the position, and since then Reininger has gone on to spot for five IndyCar winners including Dario Franchitti, and four in Indy Lights including sophomore IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden.
Reininger is the regular season-long spotter for TK, having been with him for the past three years. Reininger usually working alone at races, except for the Indy 500. He works in Turn 1, having a clear view of the pits, merging into traffic in Turn 1, and following him through traffic in Turns 2 through 4. Other drivers for whom he has spotted include Ryan Hunter-Reay.
TK doesn't like much talk, and prefers it be limited to the times when he's running on the straights. Reininger says spotting is hard work, especially with another spotter - hard not to override. He has TK in one ear and Race Control in the other.
This Indy 500 is Reininger's first time spotting for TK in Turn 1. He describes the sight from atop the E Grand Stand building as 'the iconic view' - like looking at a postcard. Reininger has also been spotting for Firestone Indy Lights driver, Gabby Chaves (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.)
Dave Reininger, Brian Delaney & Eric Stewart. Michael Crawford was camera-shy.
Stewart has been in motorsports for the past 25 years in various capacities, including over-the-wall crew, parts supplier. He's the Turn 3 spotter again this year for Kanaan - on top of a NorthEast vista, which has a beautiful view.
Crawford started out in 1992 as the Goodyear Racing PR rep. He's been a racer, sports car and open-wheel team owner, and now Marion College professor, teaching marketing/entrepreneurship/communications. He's been spotting for several years, starting with Sam Schmidt in 2002, then out of necessity with his own Indy Lights team, and the past four years with HVM IndyCar team - first with Nelson Phillippe and then De Silvestro.