Friday, May 30, 2014

The Indescribable: Indy 500, Day 1

I always stop myself before ever saying, "I can't describe it" or "I don't have the words." I'm a writer, I have words! But it's taking me a long time to come up with the right ones to describe my trip to the Indy 500.

So photos it is! And I'm going to have to break these posts up into each day, because there's a lot to tell.

My whole adventure started with having incredible access to the pits, the garages, and pretty much anywhere I wanted to go. (Thanks bunches to Brie Rentz, for hooking me up!)

Actually, everything started with meeting some new friends at The Yellow Party (a cancer charity fundraising event Thursday night), offering up a new character name for the silent auction (Jimmy and Nikki Gray got the winning bid ... and they're still deciding on a name!), and getting the "2 TKs" photo I'd wanted. As I said on Facebook: Two TKs. Only one of us is an Indy 500 winner.

Friday started with securing the credential and walking into the infield, right by the famous pagoda. I climbed up into the stands with Greg from Glass Hammer Racing, my first and best Indy race-buddy, for the hour of practice. And then we hit the plaza, where I got proof I was there (in pink) on the strip of bricks behind the pagoda. (These are remnants of when the entire speedway was bricked—hence "the Brickyard." When the track was paved, some of the original bricks were saved and set into a strip that runs across the track, pit lane, and through the pagoda plaza at the start/finish line.)

Then I had my chance to see Pippa Mann and get a peek at her garage—and truly, this was one of the best experiences of the weekend. I spent just a couple minutes with Pippa (all she had to spare), but most of an hour hanging out in her garage (doing that "research" thing that looks a lot like staring wide-eyed and trying to take it all in). You can see Pippa's car behind us, as well as the other two cars Dale Coyne Racing fielded.

After that, I headed to pit lane and the front straight for the pit stop competition that took place Friday afternoon. Here's a view of the crowd on the ground and in the stands:

When I found Brie and Heidi, representing Dreyer and Reinbold Racing (fielding incredibly rookie Sage Karam), I had this view for Sage's semi-final run in the competition (yes, it was loud!).

And I swapped phones with other excited visitors to take the obligatory "on the front straight in front of the pagoda" photo.

With the festivities pretty much done for the day (I skipped the evening concerts), I headed back to my hotel for a rest before the Burger Bash that night. I'll leave you with an exterior shot of the track. Yes, those really are the main grandstands, right next to the track, and right next to a regular, two-lane-each-way city street.

This is a speedway that grew big. It wasn't built that way, as some monument to the glory of racing (think Daytona). Indy is old, an oval scratched out in a field that was so great it kept getting used and used, even as the city grew up next to it and around it. Now, the top edge of the stands are right above the city street. Houses, grass or gravel lots, and strip malls ring the speedway. And it feels historic. It feels like it's been there for all of its 105 years.

Posts about days two and three coming soon!

2 comments:

  1. Looking forwards to Kate making some laps there one day.

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  2. Thanks, Pdog! Me, too! And I'm looking forward to going back and soaking more in. It's pretty overwhelming for a first visit.

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