Wow, wow, wow! What can you say
about the Indianapolis 500? For over 100 years it has been the most
import race Ė not only in the United States Ė but also around the
world. I have been going since 1959; I may have missed a dozen
years or so. My Dad started going in 1934. Itís such a family
deal. My son now buys 6 tickets every year, and my grandsonís
rookie year was 2009Ö.and heís proud of it. He is proud that heís
not a rookie. Now, the crowd just keeps growing. And itís a good
thing that the damage that was done is starting to heal.
The racing there is absolutely,
totally fantastic. I whole 68 lead changes on the racetrack is
better than any race, any track, any series, or anything that I have
ever heard of. These were racing changes not pit changes!
13 countries were represented by
drivers. 13 countries across the world. This is the single most
important race in the world. I donít know how the guys or girls
down at Charlotte can even think that they are competing with this!
I have never been to this race where
it wasnít one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have never
been to this race and not met new people, new racers, from
across the country. If you donít go to the Indianapolis 500 youíre
just flat missing it. My grandson and I went to timed trials this
year. I remember when there were 200,000 people there on pole day.
There might have been 60,000 altogether. But you can sit anywhere
you want so you can see where the good seats are, you can see the
action, and you can meet people that have been going there for years
and years and years and years and years.
I talked to the guard. (You can see
my pictures there on the timed trails). He said his family had been
guards there since 1946, and his father guarded the media center in
1946. He said there is a list to be a track guard, thatís the
yellow shirted guys with a badge. He said he had spent thousands and
thousands of dollars travelling to Indianapolis. And his family is
military and they used Indianapolis on Memorial Day as their
Christmas. He told me he had flown home from Thailand, from Japan,
from Turkey, from Germany, and from South Korea to see the
Indianapolis 500 and be a guard. He said he was now so proud that
his daughter was a guard at the track and that sheíd been on the
list for 7 years before she made it two years ago.
Everybody that you talk to has a story
about their family and the Indy 500. If you werenít there you just
missed out. One of the greatest races youíd ever see.
I saw Tony
George misrepresented and badmouthed in several different
places in the press. They blame him for the breakup of Indy
racing. It wasnít himÖ. it was Penske and his arrogance. Tony spent
the money and developed soft walls. He gave NASCAR the
technology. It took them 4 years to decide it might be safer for
racers. Now itís all about what NASCAR does for safety. He redid
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway completely, and itís gorgeous in
what he did, and how he did it. He kept the tradition and made
it new and modern and fresh. He brought NASCAR to the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway, and it was the hardest ticket to get until NASCAR
decided they were gonna run 10 laps and throw a yellow flag. He
filled that place up with real race fans from across the country!
Real race fans know racing when they see it, and they know a joke
when they see it. And they just quit buying tickets after that race.
So NASCAR ruined the best thing they had going on as far as
Then, Tony brought Formula One to the United States, and spent
millions of dollars to make Indianapolis into the number 1 facility
for Formula 1. They came here and then decided on the day of the
race that they werenít gonna race cause they didnít like the tires.
So instead of having a full field, Tony only had 5 teams that ran
the Formula One. Thatís certainly not the way to continue to grow in
Formula 1. So, I think this guy has been screwed every which way
Itís true: I may have personal feelings because I met
him once. We had a cup of coffee in the kitchen area at the Old
Brick Yard Motel, and I had maybe a 15 minute conversation with him
about racing. 3 years later, at the IRL race in Orlando Florida,
Iím standing in line for the Porta Potty. Tony then walks out and
as he walks by me and called me by name and asked me how I was
doing. Now Iím just a race fan who spend 15 minutes with this guy
in conversation about racing in the kitchen at the Brick Yard
Motel. And he remembered who I was. So you could say Iím probably
biased. But outside of Mr. Holman and the 2 Bill Frances, I donít
know anybody thatís done more for racing than Tony George. He got
Jack Hewitt to ride at the Indy Motor Speedway and if he didnít do
anything else besides thatÖthat was enough for me.
Weíve got lots of great coverage going onÖ. Ina went
to the little 500, Bruce has covered sprints in 7 states, VA Dirtís
doing his usual great job, Lonnieís holding down Texas, and LarrE is
everywhere. And thereís more!! And myself? Well, I continue to
get rained out.