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Rain stops play in Indianapolis

Persistent and heavy rain at Indianapolis Motor Speedway washed out all on-track activity on the second day of practice for the centennial Indianapolis 500.
The weather well and truly closed in today, to turn the opening weekend of practice for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 into something of a damp squib. With the emphasis on 'damp'.

After a rain-interrupted Saturday which saw the track activity suspended for nearly two hours by rain and then curtailed by a further 45 minutes when the rain returned toward the end of the day, the climate took an even more unfriendly turn on Sunday and was cold, dark - and very wet.

Persistent rain showed no signs of abating long enough or completely enough to give any hope of on-track activity, although the organisers left everyone sit it out for a while before making the eventual inevitable call.

Drivers and teams amused themselves as best they could in the meantime. Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung dropped in on the Indy 500 Kids Club located in the Al Unser suite and got their faces painted with the Dragon Racing logo; James Hinchcliffe popped in but left with merely a cupcake "for later" rather than face art.

Ed Carpenter, who is himself a licensed pilot, opted for slightly more grown-up company and invited the crew of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels to the Sarah Fisher Racing garage to show them around; the Angels performed the flyover of the IMS that was part of Saturday's Opening Day activities.

Ana Beatriz, Davey Hamilton and Sebastian Saavedra were among those diligently working in the team garage reviewing details of their preparations, in contrast to Will Power who cheekily tweeted a picture of himself taking it easy in the Penske garage and reclining on the meeting table so that he could read the local Sunday papers. Rahal Letterman Racing team mates Bertrand Baguette and Jay Howard were among the few in race firesuits - but that was just so they could have their official portrait photos taken.

And at least the British contingent of drivers - including Mike Conway - looked perfectly home holding umbrellas and staring up at the clouds for signs of further precipitation.

Ryan Hunter-Reay had perhaps the best idea and headed off for a first-time visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum for inspiration, which boasts 67 Indianapolis 500-winning cars among its exhibits.

And meanwhile, outside - the rain came down ...

By 1.08pm the organisers could see from the weather radar that the situation was not going to clear up in time to do the teams any good, especially not with a sodden track with large quantities of standing water to dry out before anyone could even consider getting out for a run.

Everyone duly called it a day and set a date to rendez-vous back in Gasoline Alley midday on Monday instead. The weather forecast for May 16 (practice commencing at noon for six hours) is reported to be significantly better.

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