My trip to the Indy 500

Everyone should go to the Indianapolis 500 once. Once is plenty, but everyone should see it once. I got the chance to go in 1994, when a client/friend of mine who sold auto parts talked his way into tickets and couple of passes into the garage area, and I tagged along. I’m not sure, but I think I was the only person there wearing a Cleveland Indians’ cap. If they’d have done that old Sesame Street game, “Which of these things doesn’t belong”, they would’ve picked me out right away.

The ambiance of the 500 was really interesting. A sociologist would have a field day. It is a combination of the ultimate high tech gearheads and the ultimate in hard selling, with a little hardcore redneck pride thrown in for good measure. I got there on Saturday practice day and went to the track to meet my friend there. While I was dawdling at a souvenir stand looking at all the many types of t-shirts when the skies opened up in a sudden downpour. In the blink of a eye the t-shirts all disappeared, to be replaced by rain slickers and umbrellas that hadn’t been there 30 seconds before hand. Those vendors had obviously done that trick before.

We got into the garage area with our passes and I was just in awe. I am the last thing from a gearhead, but I was standing right next to a car that would be in the next day’s race, saying to myself, “Don’t trip and fall onto the car, don’t trip and fall onto the car, don’t trip and fall onto the car.” Normally, standing upright and walking isn’t a problem for me, but I was just so nervous being so close to those amazing machines and knowing how much was riding on them being in the next day’s race that I talked myself into a near panic.

The race itself was a beautiful sight. The crowd was large and fun-loving, the day was bright and sunny, I had my sunblock with SPF 1.5 million, there were a huge number of scantily clad women with numerous tattoos, many of said women were good-looking, and the beer was flowing. We had seats high in the last turn as the cars head into the straightaway towards the start/finish line. The noise of the cars was deafening. Being a newbie, I didn’t realize that everyone in the crowd brings headset radios, to block out the sound of the cars and to actually keep track of the race, which spectators can’t really follow without the benefit of radios. The only crash of the race happened right in front of us so my urge for bloodlust was satisfied. (Just kidding. No one was hurt, but the insurance adjuster totaled both cars.)

The funniest thing was that we left in the middle of the race. My friend said, “Neither you nor I care who wins this race, and considering the traffic jam that’s likely to occur, if we don’t leave now we’re going to be here until midnight.” So we left, went back to the motel (where we actually stayed in a motor home in the motel parking lot) and I headed northeast to Toledo to visit my brother and his family. As I cruised north on I-69 I mistakenly figured that I’d be able to find a ballgame on the radio, ie, the Cubs, White Sox, Tigers or Reds, but every single radio station in Indiana seems to be contractually required to broadcast the 500 on race day, except of course for those playing gospel music. That’ll teach me.

Glad you had a good time. Love the username/thread title combo! :cool:

I went to the Indy 500 back in 1975 or so. My buddy and I went on Saturday afternoon. We got shuffled over into a short track camping area nearby and were treated to guys on choppers racing each other all night. Very early the next morning we got into line to move into the Indy infield. We ended up hundreds of yards from the track itself. There was no way we could get close enough to catch more than a glimpse of the cars as they screamed by.

We did get to tour the pits. Up close, the cars look like dirty, greasy, enormously over-powered go-karts.

At the end of the race, they let the “outer” people leave first, so we sat parked in the exit queue for four hours as that happened.

I read the next day that they had to collect 8.9 million pounds of trash. I guarantee you that 95% of that was beer cans.

Yeah, I did it once. I don’t see any need to do it again, unless my income suddenly leaps into the 9-figure category.

I went back in 1998, flew in and arrived the day before the race. Stayed at a hotel, and had a bus ride to the track.
Went back the next day and toured the museum, and took the tour of the track. Went to all the impromptu /unofficial souvenir stands across the street.
I would like to go back again, only next time I would like to arrive a couple of days further in advance.

I’ve never been to the race, nor any of the traditional pre-race things (Carburetion Day is practically a local holiday, and it’s a rite of passage for most people here to play hooky from school or work one or two days a year and hang out at the track all day during qualifying), despite being a lifeling Indy resident. I need to go someday. If nothing else, I’d like to see Scott Dixon out there racing-- he dated a friend of mine ~2000-2004, which gave me a personal connection to the sport, if only in a friend-of-a-friend way.

The museum was really cool, even to this non-gearhead, when I used to go in the 80s and 90s. You really get a sense of the history of open-wheel racing, and it can turn you into a racing fan against your will, if only temporarily.

I love telling people where to look for the golden brick that they laid on opening day and is now covered with tar. ::wink wink::

I went every year from age 8 to age 22 (1982-1996). Then Tony George (may he rot in hell forever) ruined it and I swore I would never go back.

Now that the split is over I have been mulling a return. There is absolutely nothing in the world like it. The party atmosphere is intoxicating; where else can you get together with a quarter million people who are all there for the same reason?