The Indy 500, viewed vicariously
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I usually like watching sporting events in person but when it comes to the Indy 500, I’ll take it as I can get it. This means I watched the race over Memorial Day weekend on TV. I’m certainly not complaining.
When you grow up in Hoosierland, Race Day on Sunday is either spent attending the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” or listening to it on the radio. The race has always been blacked out, but with developments in satellite technology, I’m sure Hoosiers now get to watch it on TV like we do in Colorado.
I’m still not used to it. There really is something to be said about being there, at the race.
Based in Speedway, Ind., the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is gargantuan. The track, as we call it, can house up to 400,000 race fans. The IMS is the highest-capacity, stadium-type facility in the world. Never mind if I sound like a proud parent. I’ve made a lot of great memories at the track, so I can’t help but boast.
The one – and possibly only – time I’ve completed a half-marathon, part of the route took runners, walkers and run-walkers like me around the two-and-a-half mile track. The Mini Marathon, or the Mini, is a tradition and part of what makes the month of May in Indianapolis so darn festive.
There’s also Carburetion Day on the Friday before the race, with more parties that I can count and a parade that shows the spirit of the city and the excitement for having the Indycar drivers, and sometimes their celebrity wives, in town.
The drivers are celebrities themselves, in their own right.
Brazilian-born driver Helio Castroneves is not only a three-time Indy 500 champion, making him uber-famous in my mind, but he’s also a household name, thanks to winning “Dancing With the Stars,” one of my guilty primetime TV pleasures. Helio did not win Sunday’s race, but he gave it a great shot and stayed clear of some of the crashes that caused some disappointment Sunday. I think he’ll get his fourth someday.
Sunday’s big winner and milk drinker in Victory Lane – also an Indy 500 tradition – was none other than a driver with an A-list celebrity Ashley Judd wife, Dario Franchitti. This power couple reportedly met at a wedding in 1999 and have been the fresh faces of Indycar racing since. They even had Dario’s winning portrait taken on Sunday with their two dogs.
That might be a first.
Since I’m here in Colorado, watching the Indy 500 action, post- and pre-race, is limited to TV and what I read on the Internet. Luckily news spreads fast these days, so I’ve been able to see and hear all kinds of headlines and coverage of the race.
A quick visit to indystar.com, and I almost feel like I’m there.
My mom is great at relaying the scoop as well, especially the goings-on at the annual Indianapolis 500 Victory Banquet. This is a formal, black-tie affair where all the drivers, teams, and their owners receive their awards and checks. The event airs on the local channel and is one of Indy’s biggest red carpet affairs.
Hey, we have celebrities, too. My mom and I have always made the awards banquet a tradition to watch together. This year, she’ll have to give me a play-by-play of what people are wearing and how big the teams’ checks are.
One day maybe I’ll actually attend the banquet in person, and see the celebrities myself. Maybe I’ll meet an Indycar driver at a wedding someday and be able to go as his date to the banquet.
A girl can dream.
Even though I’m not in Indy, technology can bring the race to me these days, instead of just listening to it on the radio. Not that I minded the radio version of the race. It’s very old school that way, and that helps with the imagination.
Especially when Helio wins and climbs the Motor Speedway’s fence. It can happen again.
– “April in Glenwood” appears every Wednesday. April E. Clark was happy to hear Jim Nabors sing “Back Home Again in Indiana,” even if it was a telecast after open-heart surgery. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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