The Greatest Spectacle in
greatest spectacle in racing is also the greatest racing experience
there is. 1934 was the first year that somebody from my family went
to the Indianapolis 500, and I went this year with my son and my
grand son. Who is totally in love with the place and racing. Indy
still makes my heart pound just as much as the first time that I
The first time I went
was 1959 and Roger Ward won. They used to erect scaffolds on the
infield for people to sit on. And a scaffold that my dad bought me
a ticket on was 8 stories tall; I sat on the 5th story
just on the inside of turn number 4, and I could see part of the
short shoot on the north end, turn 4 ,all of the straight away, and
the cars going into number 1. In 1961 or 2 one of them fell down
and killed several people so they outlawed the scaffolds.
a brief 10 minute stretch where we sat in traffic, while they
directed the traffic coming off of 465 from Chicago, we drove right
in. At 830 in the morn they didn’t have a problem. We parked on
some peoples yard on Fisher Street, three blocks from the speedway.
It was an easy in and an easy out. After the race, outside of a 10
minute traffic set, we drove out completely and we were home by 5:30
in the evening. So if you’re worried about traffic – don’t be
worried about traffic: they’ve got it under control.
I was disappointed on
the way in because I usually stop at Churches Chicken and get
chicken for everybody. Chicken is our family tradition (probably is
for many families). I think when the archeologists dig at the Indy
500 in 10,000 years…they’ll say “I think this is where all the
chicken go to die!” As part of the civic and speedway renovation,
they tore the Churches chicken down, so at this 500 we had no
chicken to eat.
was absolutely massive. See my pictures! It’s a race crowd at
Indy. Maybe one out of 20 people is a rookie. So people have been
going there for a long time just like my family. The crowd was
bigger than it was for the 100th anniversary race last
year! This is unlike NASCAR, which seems to be, fewer and fewer
people in the stands every time we go and see it. Indy has
increased every year for the last 5 years. You have a 27 percent TV
viewership this year and 18 percent gain in attendance for the IRL.
walked along the outside of the grandstands, mumbling to ourselves
about not getting any chicken, we went up and got our seats and put
our junk down. Our seats are 3rd row from the top, 5
pits north of the start/finish line. Absolutely great seats my son
I went down to the
concession stands thinking I was going to get beat to death cause I
used to get 20 bucks worth of chicken and pass it out to everyone
around me…and was pleasantly surprised. I had an absolutely great
bratwurst, a 16oz beer, and a bag of chips for $10. My NASCAR
friends would be envious! It used to be, they beat you to death at
Indy but that has changed.
They passed out
Free, FREE, FREE sunglasses to honor Dan Wheldon, last year’s
Indy Champ that was killed in an accident in Las Vegas at the end of
the year. It was quite interesting to see 200,000 people put the
glasses on at different laps to honor Dan.
I sat downstairs on the
curb by the fence, ate my ‘brat’, drank my beer and talked to people
‘til 15 minutes before race time. Then I walked up and sat down in
my seat. All the parades and pageantry are simply unbelievable.
When you go there with your family, take your kids. You’re making
memories you’ll never forget. And each year on the way there and on
the way back you relieve those memories. And each year you go you
make more memories.
I so truly love the sport,
as cruel as it can be sometimes. MY heart was pounding the same way
it did the first time that they called the drivers to the cars.
Also, we missed Jim Nabors, Gomer Pyle, being there and singing
“Back Home in Indiana”. Thoughts and prayers go out to Jim. Mary
Hulman-George commands: “Ladies and Gentlemen: Start Your Engines”
(there were 3 women in the race) as somebody from the Hulman family
has done since Wilber Shaw died in 1954. Mary was a real racer when
she was a kid. She owned many sprint cars (before they had cages)
and traveled the country.
think all the renovations they’ve done with the speedway have been
tremendous. The architecture and design has blended what was
original and old into what’s new and modern. The cars started up
and off they went. When they made the first parade lap, every car
was completely in line: 11 rows of 3. I think my point and shoot
Sony got all 11 rows as they came by.
of the Indianapolis 500 is the most exciting thing that I’ve ever
experienced. 33 cars were charging down the front straight away 220
miles an hour into the first curve. So often there’s a disaster
right at the start. This year it was a smooth and beautiful start.
When the second yellow flag came out at lap 80 the race average was
198 miles an hour.
lots of talk about the design of these cars and whether people would
like them. Dan Wheldon spent most of last year testing these cars
and improving these cars. This is the most race-able car I’ve ever
seen. 35 lead changes -- a new track record! Lead changes on the
track not in the pits. Slide jobs into number 1 corner every
single lap, with lots of passing back in the pack. The IRL
has a hit with this car!
Franchitti spun in the pits and had trouble and had to
go to the rear. (see my photos ) As the race went on he made his
way toward the front. Drivers from 8 different countries led this
race. This is the single most important race in the world!
made it to the front. It Became a duel between Franchitti and
Dixon,. Back and fourth
Franchitti winning one lap, Dixon winning one lap. On the
next-to-last single file restart, crowd favorite Tony
Kanaan, came from 6th to lead in number 1 turn. 3
or 4 laps later there was another yellow flag. And the crowd stood
every time Tony came by and pumped both fists for him. The crowd
wanted TK to win On the next re-start, Dixon,
Sato all passed Tony. Back and forth again with
Franchitti and Dixon
driving the Target cars for Chip Ganassi. On the last lap, Takuma
Sato made a charge past Dixon and into turn one to try to pass
Franchitti, and he spun his car and hit the wall, in a valiant
try to win the Indianapolis 500 race. Franchitti
picked up his third Indianapolis 500 win.
Marco Andretti of the
Andretti family led a lot of laps, just like Andretti’s always do,
but didn’t win.
of the food on Georgetown road as we were leaving was extremely
enticing. When we got to the corner of Crawfordsville and
Georgetown, my grandson looked up at me and said “its only 364 days
and 20 hours before we get to do it again.” Take your kid or grand
kid to this race, you will not be sorry.
World of Outlaws sprint car
driver, Kasey Kane (see LarrE’s coverage at the woo race at The Dirt
Track at charlotte motor speedway) won the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race