This post will be about our attendance to the race for the first time. In a couple days I should have something up about the race itself. I really need to watch the race on TV before I can write about it.
First, I want to thank everyone on Twitter for their encouragement and suggestions for attending. It gave me the courage to attend. Especially, Mike Knapp, @15daysinMay, who offered to have us sit with him and his boys. Mike was even willing to meet me outside town so I wouldn’t have to face the traffic on my own. I didn’t take him up on that as I was looking at a three hour drive before arriving and didn’t want to hold him up but was so grateful for his willingness to help. It was also great having someone to sit with so we could leave our bags when we went to cool off mid race. Thanks again Mike for everything. This is what I love about twitter and social media. I would not have met Mike and a lot of others without it. What a great way to connect.
One of my reasons for not attending in the past is the 500 falls near my husbands birthday and we always have a party on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I live near Chicago so it’s too hard to travel. However, due to my nieces wedding all plans changed for this year and boys and I took advantage.
Race Day- my boys and I were on the road shortly after 5:00 am. Of course that was 6:00 am in Indy. Time change does not help. We made good time until we neared Crawfordsville Road but once we were on the road it wasn’t too bad. We parked our car about a mile from the speedway. Boys were great about walking and helping carry our cooler and bags. I was very thankful for that. We made it to the Speedway and had no problems getting in the gate. We made it to our seats quickly and enjoyed seeing the vintage cars on track.
Pre race ceremony was great. This is always the time at home when I wish I could be at the track. We missed the former winners but saw the vintage cars and the military laps. We enjoyed “America The Beautiful” and of course the National Anthem. However, when it really hit for me was the singing of (Back Home Again in) “Indiana” and the balloon release. I teared up at that point. Straight, No Chaser did an excellent job. The song gave me goosebumps. That said it didn’t compare to Jim Nabors. I can’t even imagine having a chance to hear him perform at Indy. For those who did count yourself blessed. Then the call to start engines. I need to listen again but it wasn’t the call we expected. Still engines started and the green flag was nearing. Alex Tagliani had trouble starting but eventually did and was able to join the field. After the warm up laps and poor Conor Daly’s car catching on fire we were ready for the green flag. Cars came flying down turn one and the boys and I were thoroughly impressed. The cars did not make it through turn two though and we went yellow for a bit. After we returned to green for a couple laps the boys were ready to get into the shade and cool off.
We walked over to the museum area and we all dipped our feet in the fountain. I must have counted the nozzles in the fountain at least three times– Thanks George. (George Phillips, @oilpressureblog, had a trivia contest a couple weeks ago and one of the questions asked how many nozzles on the fountain). Needless to say I got that one, and many others, wrong.
We also visited the gift shop at the museum. We’ve made friends with one of the cashiers and wanted to stop and say Hi. Zach bought some popcorn, we visited the fountain again and eventually made our way back to our seats.
Now before you yell at me for not being glued to our seats let me say I’m right there with you. I knew by attending I would miss some of the race. I knew ahead of time my boys would never want to sit and watch the race in its entirety. By knowing this ahead of time we saved ourselves a lot of heartache. I was willing to give the boys a break and they were not driving me crazy complaining.
We returned to our seats right after Ed Carpenters crash. It was actually a good time to return. We had time to catch up on what had happened and get to our seats without getting in anyone’s way. We were also blessed to not have anyone sitting in front of us, giving us a little extra room for our things. We settled in for the rest of the race. The boys were really watching and enjoying. They especially enjoyed the last 15 laps or so. It probably helped that Mike and his boys were really excited about Montoya and I was pulling for Power (at the end anyway). Matthew went with Montoya and Zach was for Power. They loved watching the passes and hearing the crowd. They were pretty excited. Great way to introduce the 500 with an amazing finish. Our seats were great for all the action but man it would be nice to sit at the finish line for the finish. Not complaining- just saying.
We have nothing to complain about. It was a fantastic race on a beautiful day at the greatest place on earth. I honestly don’t think we will attend next year as we will be back on our regular schedule but i think we all will be wishing we could attend.
After the race we walked over toward the garages. We saw Graham Rahal and Zach yelled out that we would be eating at Steak ‘n Shake. Graham thanked him and that put a smile on Zach’s face. We then walked up the stairs overlooking James Hinchcliffe’s garage area. Zach had a checkered flag necklace he wanted to get to Hinch. We were lucky enough to see Ryan Briscoe and Ryan came over and we dropped the necklace down to him. Wow, Ryan, that was really sweet. That is why we love the IndyCar series. The drivers are the best.
We had another super cool thing happen. Earlier in the day, before the race, a photographer saw Zach and all his checkered flag necklaces. He asked Zach if he was a big fan and if Zach had seen all the horrible crashes. Zach replied that he had. The photographer then asked if Zach wanted a piece of one of the cars that had crashed. Um yes please. He handed Zach a piece of a car. We don’t know whose but Zach is sure it belonged to Ed’s car. I was probably more excited than Zach. Wow! So cool!
Boys were amazing all day and happily hiked the mile walk back to our car without complaining. We had an amazing day. I made them promise to take a couple moments and reflect on the day because I wish I had done that after my first (and only) day at the track with my dad. We just attended our first 500. We don’t know when our next 500 will be but we will return.