For some their first introduction to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on a qualifying or race day and they are immediately in aww of the sounds and speed. My introduction was a bit slower – pun intended. I was reading a book, an AJ Foyt biography to be specific and my very first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was to visit the museum and take a track tour. Well today for the very first time my husband Steve visited the Speedway. Not sure he enjoyed it as much as me but he did have a fun time.
I’ve been a fan of AJ and the Indianapolis 500 since 1985. I first visited the Speedway with my dad in 1992 for a museum and track tour and followed that up in 1993 with a trip to time trials. In 2008 I returned with my son Matthew for qualifying and have returned every year for either qualifying, the GP of Indy or the Indianapolis 500. In 2010 my son Zach joined us and 2015 was our first Indy 500.
My husband, Steve, has never been a fan but we can usually get him to watch the start of a race at home on tv or listen to our stories. Today I finally got him to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. November 6th I turned 50 and we planned a trip to the Smokey Mountains to celebrate. I decided we would take our time driving down and spend the night in Indy so we could visit the track and experience some of my favorite things. Steve agreed.
We arrived in Indianapolis around 1:30 pm. We drove straight to the Speedway and went into the museum to purchase tickets. We did both the museum and the track tour. Similar to what my dad and I had done 28 years ago. We went on the track tour first.
I had a hard time not telling Steve all the facts before the tape of Bob Jenkins did so. I knew exactly what would be said but I just mouthed the words and with masks on no one noticed. I love getting out on the track and feeling the banking. The bus goes so stinking slow, I don’t need to go fast but I’d love to be able to do at least 60. Then I feel the bus goes too fast. I want to take in every sight and sound. If I had my way you would walk it, drive around slow and then drive around fast(ish) but no one asks me how the tour should go. The bus stops at the yard of bricks and you can get out and kiss the bricks if you like. I told Steve we could pretend to kiss the bricks but that right is reserved for winners and we wouldn’t be kissing them. That was fine by Steve he didn’t even want to get down on the ground after having torn his hamstring off the bone this summer.
I was willing to pretend letting my lips hover just above the bricks.
We finished our bus tour and went into the museum. Currently the museum is running an Andy Granatelli exhibit. I have read Andy’s biography years ago and he is from Chicago so I was glad to be able to catch this exhibit while we were in town. We learned some fun facts and Steve really appreciated hearing how Andy and his brothers got their start by helping neighbors on city streets whose cars wouldn’t start on a cold morning. These were guys with a passion and Steve could appreciate that. I think it’s safe to say that Andy Granatelli was a very passionate guy, from his flamboyant suits sporting his STP sponsor to his slobbery kiss to Mario Andretti after his 1969 win. The Granatelli story is a good one of the little guy finding his American dream.
I loved showing Steve some of my museum favorites, the Marmon Wasp, the pictures of all the winners and even Clark Gable enjoying the race from turn one. We watched the movie, took pictures and looked for our favorite drivers on the Borg-Warner trophy. It was a good visit.
Even though we drove in I had to snap the traditional picture we take as we walk through the tunnel and into the Speedway.
After our trip to IMS we went onto Main Street so we could stop at the Foyt Vault. Steve does not enjoy wine but I do and since AJ is my favorite I especially enjoy a Foyt wine. Steve had a coke and we loved the bread basket with dipping sauces. I retold several of our AJ and Larry stories and even the time we met Dave Furst at the Vault. Steve has heard them all a thousand times but he patiently listened as I told them again.
We then went to my dear friend Lisa’s house where we are spending the night. Lisa is always so gracious to let us spend time here even when she is out of town. It is so appreciated.
After a short rest we headed back to Main Street for dinner at Dawson’s on Main. I love calamari steak and of course we had to get a tenderloin sandwich. After dinner we walked over to see the Speedway at night before heading back to Lisa’s. A wonderful way to celebrate my 50th birthday.
I wonder how you were introduced to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? With all the sights and sounds of cars on track or a quieter version like Steve and I?