No, not Mattel's latest prognostication toy, but the annual gala racing event which highlights my year, The Indy 500. The Magic 33 refers to the number of drivers on the starting grid each year (save for a few oddities like 1911 through 1933, 1979, and 1997).
The timing of the 2009 entry list release was perfect yesterday as I could print it, take it with me to lunch, and pour over. To date there are 28 drivers listed with their chassis entries, and no less than 12 available entries to be filled with drivers for a minimum total of potential entries to 40. During my nice, quiet lunch, I did a quick rundown and here's my (purely speculative, somewhat informed) analysis of the open entries/seats which I break down into 4 groups; Highly Likely, Likely, Unlikely, Very Unlikely,
Highly Likely group brings total to 31.
#22/22t Vision - We're 5 short of the magic 33 and I'm sure if we're within one or two drivers, this will be filled. My Guess = Townsend Bell or Tomas Scheckter
#34/34t Conquest - They're showing nobody in a seat yet, but they're surely not totally missing the biggest race of the year. My guess = Alex Tagliani
#23/23t Dreyer and Reinbold - There's an experienced engineer already listed for this entry with no driver. My guess = Milka Duno or Buddy Rice.
Likely group brings total to 35.
#19/19t Dale Coyne - There are a group of very good and Indy-experienced drivers around during May and if all goes to plan with Wilson (no damaged chassis for the main entry or backup), this car will get a Sonny's BBQ sponsorship on Bump Day and make into the last two rows of the field. My guess = Roger Yasukawa.
#36/36t Conquest - See previous entry, fill-in-the-blank with sponsor. My guess = Max Papis.
#25/25t Roth - Guy has 4 chassis just sitting around? He loves this race and will drive if he can. If not, I doubt he'll let them all sit idle. My guess = Marty Roth.
#91 Hemelgarn - Ol' Ron will try it one more time with Buddy Lazier, but the magic won't be there as it was last year.
#8/8t KV Racing - Maybe, if some big money falls out of the sky and lands in Vasser's lap.
#17/17t Rahal Letterman - How long will this go on? The 1986 winner and the Indy native with no money to race Indy? This reminds me of 1993 when Rahal got bumped with a weak Honda oops, Judd motor.
#48/48t Foyt - Only if a Luyendyk in on the bubble or there are 32 cars in the field on Bump Day. My guess = Jeff Simmons.
Very Unlikely group.
#52/52t Roth - Nah. No chance.
#68 Fisher - This is an insurance entry only. Only a worst-case, last-ditch scenario for Sarah will see this chassis out of the garage.
My assumptions are that all of the 28 entries will make the field. One caveat may be that Stanton Barrett won't make the field, bumped by one of the few below cut line. Also, if Alex Lloyd can't keep his lone chassis off the wall for the entire month, he may fail to qualify.
Can't wait to see how this all develops. It's not just the race for fans like myself, it's truly a month-long drama I enjoy every year and Bump Day will have it's share of drama.
Pole Speed 228.165
Bump Speed 219.855