By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2001
Sunday's Indianapolis 500 is long enough that if you need a break after 100 laps or so, you can check out the race coverage online without missing too much action.
"When the television goes to commercial, Sportsline.com is still at the race," explains the preview page for the "RaceLive" feature at indy500.com, the official site.
The live updates, produced by Sportsline, allow fans to see where every driver ranked in every lap, with a "My Driver" feature that keeps track of one car in addition to the regular leaderboard.
"We want this to be an application that fans can use while watching the race, or if they can't get to a television, this can be how they watch the race," said Dan Smith, Sportsline's vice president ofmultimedia technology.
This is Sportsline's first venture with a live race, but the site will have similar features for the rest of this year's Indy Racing League schedule.
As an hors d'oeuvre to Sunday's open-wheel fare, racing fans can find similar Racecast options at NASCAR.com for Busch and Winston Cup series races.
The Indy site offers webcams from around the track that fans can control, with a little persistence. Only one person gets to zoom and pan at a time -- for 45 seconds -- and with everybody online waiting in line, there's a good chance you'll get a "the queue is full" message asking you to try again later. Other sites to help you get the most out of your racing weekend:
sarahfisher.com: The official site for the race's lone female driver is modest but well-updated. The site was launched five years ago by Paul Gretzinger of Canton, Ohio, after he met Sarah Fisher and her father at a local sprint car race.
If the site seems low-key and laid-back, that's Fisher's intent.
Gretzinger said the graphic-heavy, flash-intro sites many drivers have can be too much for even the most patient fans to download.
"I've got a cable modem so that doesn't bother me, but what about the little kid with AOL and a computer that was handed down to him?" Gretzinger said. "Those are her fans, and we want people to know Sarah's on the other end of the site."
The site only has about 2,000 hits a day, but Fisher likes to stay involved. Gretzinger said the 20-year-old regularly checks the site's guest book, answers her e-mail and offers an address on the site's FAQ page where fans can write for an autographed picture.
www.samhornish.com: Sam Hornish Jr., a 21-year-old who will start on the same row as Fisher, leads the IRL points standings. Traffic to his family-owned site has been minimal -- a counter on the main page shows 6,800 visitors in the site's three years. For more, check out www.pantherracing.com.
TonyStewart.com: Obviously more big-budget than the other two pages, this site still has some good features hidden among the sponsor logos. Fans can purchase a "Back to Back" T-shirt commemorating Stewart's NASCAR/Indy 500 double duty, or enter a contest for tickets to see Stewart back at Indy in August for the Brickyard 400. The "news" page, however, hasn't been updated in two weeks.
TID-BYTES: This just in from the We Can't Make This Up Department: www.catholicsupply.com is selling "Jesus Sports Statues." For $20, you can have a 6-inch figurine showing you-know-who playing everything from baseball to soccer to, yes, even hockey. ... Randy Moss fans curious about his foray into basketball can visit the expectedly mediocre valleydawgs.com, which shows that one of Moss' teammates (if only for one game) is former South Florida guard Brian Taylor. Don't bother checking USBL.com -- the league site somehow had no mention of Moss on Thursday, unless you count the fine print on its transactions page.
-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, e-mail staff writer Greg Auman at email@example.com.