Jonesing for Indy
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
There are some traditions that can’t be broken, no matter the distance.
Especially when it comes to racing.
The Memorial Day weekend has meaning for everyone. We take the time to honor the brave souls who have died in military service – a tradition dating back to the 1860s. We say au revoir to spring and hello to summer. And, for the manner-minders, we can finally wear white shoes.
This is especially important for those in the go-go scene.
In my home state of Indiana, Memorial Day weekend is all of the above, plus the celebration of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500. To the tens of thousands of race fans who acknowledge the Indy 500 tradition, this is not just another car race. The events surrounding the race can span the entire month of May. There are parties, parades, and a mini marathon that somehow I completed.
Longest three-and-a-half hours of my life.
For me, the race isn’t just a race. It’s a lifetime of memories. In Indy, before everyone had satellite television and live streaming web access, the race was blacked out on local TV and only aired on the radio. So anyone not actually at the race would listen to it on the radio.
I’m really aging myself here.
I remember years of listening to the race commentary and screaming cars echoing through the house as my dad worked on his car or mowed the lawn. There were years I went to the race with my grandpa, who had a friend who lived in Speedway – a big score when it came to the greatest spectacle in parking.
That’s never the fun part.
In college, we went to the track for fun, often watching some men’s manners fly right out the window when a female is present at a racetrack. Women really don’t need a sign to direct them on what body parts to exhibit in a public setting.
Track beer can really take its toll.
No matter what my age, I’ve always been excited for the race. Some would say it’s a learned behavior, to be so enamored by cars racing at speeds over 200 miles per hours for 500 miles in 200 laps. But like Lady Gaga, I believe I was born this way. I really do love the race as if it’s encoded in my DNA. Instead of a double helix, does this mean my DNA is in an oval structure?
That joke would kill in biology circles.
My passion for the Indy 500 could be because of the way I came into the world. I was early, originally scheduled to be born in May. But I had other priorities, like someday watching the Indy 500, so I made an early entrance. Upon my mother’s quick onset of contractions, my parents raced to the hospital.
In a Mustang, no less.
I was coming in hot, as the urban saying goes, and no one was stopping me. Until there was a train. I was close to being born in the front seat of a Mustang – which so should be lyrics to a country song. Just like David Allen Coe says in “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” my story would be the perfect country and western song. It would say something about trains and mama.
Prison and trucks, not so much.
When I was born back in the day, there were separate rooms for labor and delivery. I skipped the first part and went straight to the latter, nearly making my lifetime debut again in the elevator. That’s how I came to be a member of society, fast and furious.
If I were a boy, I could have been named Vin Diesel.
In the years of growing up in the racing capital of the world, I have learned a few things. Racing Indy cars is not for the weary. Drivers qualify for the Indy 500 at speeds upwards of 220. Milk is for winners – maybe Charlie Sheen should embrace that concept. Women can race cars just like men. This year’s 100th running of the race included four women. And black and white checkered attire never gets old.
Especially when complimented with white shoes.
April E. Clark watched the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on TV in Colorado but really wanted to be in the stands watching it in person. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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