So, through an awesome and random last-minute turn of events (a new friend's friend bailed at the last minute), I wound up getting to go to the Indy 500 yesterday. And, although it was long and sometimes wet, the experience was definitely one for the memory books. Wow, the terrific noise! The excitement, the roar of the crowds! The sights, the smells, the epicness of the mullet-hunting expedition! Our seats were incredibly decent. High up enough to see a big section of track, and just a very short distance from turn 1 and the exit from pit road. I had a clear view of all but one crash, and more smoothly-executed passes than I could count.
I know, my southern-Indiana redneck roots are showing. But watching the race on TV has been a family tradition my whole life, and this year was especially exciting because I had three incredible women, the husband of an actress I adore, and one hellaciously talented young dude to cheer for.
The rain, I guess, is what everyone's talking about. Steve and I were really close to leaving Speedway entirely; we would have if my stepdad hadn't advised me not to over the phone. A rain-out would have been an amazing finish for Andretti Green, but nobody wanted a rain-out victory. We wanted the sport of a full race. Everyone in that stadium (Except for Tony Kanaan, I suppose) was visibly disappointed.
Any spirits lost were quickly regained at the first sight of a track-dryer. Secure in the knowledge that it was just a matter of time before the action got going again, we milled around, chatted with other race fans, ate, drank and were generally merry. Almost fully half of the spectators left after that first rain-out, many leaving behind rented seat cushions. Which means that, free of charge, Steve and I watched the rest of the race in cushy comfort.
The air was almost literally crackling with excitement when the race resumed two hours later. I screamed myself hoarse every time Marco or Danica passed someone. And I almost cried when Marco crashed out.
I'm so proud that two of the biggest names in Indy car racing right now are basically a couple of kids my age. It's good, too, since at 20 and 23, they have plenty of years to make an even bigger mark. I suppose that yes, I am a bit disappointed because I wanted Danica to place first and Marco in second. And the rain-out was so anticlimactic. But still, I got to be there. I can cross that one off my to-do list.
Cheers for all the drivers, crew, and safety workers. And a big congratulations to Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd. Just look at her face in that picture and tell me that yesterday was anything less than a beautiful day. And, even though my favorite drivers didn't take the victory, my favorite team still did.
Redneck stereotypes notwithstanding, I would like to go back next year. After all, I want to be there when Danica wins.
(Pics from AP)