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.

This season Crawford followed De Silvestro from HVM to KV Racing and was her primary spotter in Turn 3 this weekend. He said they bonded and have a chemistry. She likes Crawford's speech patterns and context and says that his voice is calming in adversity.

One of Crawford's memorable moments with De Silvestro was at Iowa Speedway last year when she actually passed a car in her grossly under-achieving Lotus IndyCar. Crawford admires the fact that De Silvestro stays out of trouble on the track, and he's expecting big things from her this season.

Brian Delaney is the new kid on the spotter block, and is working Turn 1 for De Silvestro. He's an Indy 500-only guy, and it's his first time working with the Swiss Miss. In the past he's worked with Tomas Scheckter, James Hinchcliffe and Sebastien Bourdais. He, like the others, is a weekend warrior, with an unrelated day job in Environmental Remediation. He got started spotting when a friend at Dreyer and Reinbold Racing went from two to four cars for the Indy 500 and tendered the spotting invitation. Delaney had already been spending lots of time at the races, listening on scanners, and being a real fan.

Delaney likes the driver interaction and loves being a spotter. He said De Silvestro was very easy to work work as she was clear in what she wants. She was updates, refreshing of information. Delaney likens her to Hinchcliffe - young, sharp, and making it enjoyable.

De Silvestro says the spotters help her out, give her confidence from having someone to provide information. She's had Crawford's assistance for the past four years and now also has Delaney for this race. De Silvestro has say-so over her spotter assignments.

Buddy Lazier (Lazier Partners) is the 1996 Indy 500 winner and has a seasoned veteran for a spotter - his younger brother, Jaques Lazier. Jaques has been racing for the past twelve years and says that he used his dyslexia to learn concentration tricks so he could focus, which has ultimately made him a good spotter. Jaques finds it easy to spot, easier than racing: if a driver can't focus, he shouldn't be driving.

Jaques spots from Turn 3. Part of what Jaques does for brother Buddy is to clear him for approaching traffic, especially slower cars - whether he should go high or low. The key is to give as much information as requested, but no more.

One year Jaques spotted the first half of the 2005 Indy 500. Then he changed hats ...and suits, literally; and finished the race driving for Robby Gordon, who had to take off for the NASCAR Cup race in Charlotte, NC.

You really do have to be multi-talented to be a spotter in this day and age in the top flight of motorsports.

By Lynne Huntting

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment