May in Indiana means only one thing ...... Indy 500 time! The track springs to life early in the month with ceremonies and special events all building up to the 500 mile race on Memorial Day week end. I am a huge fan of the 500 and have attended the race a few times but tend to enjoy watching it more on TV rather than attending in person. My favorite thing to do though is to go to the track during the practice sessions building up to qualifications and then the actual race. Last Saturday was the official opening day at the track and all the drivers and crews are free to practice running their cars until the track closes for qualifications next week end. The track is open each day to the public ($10 per person) and you can sit in the infield stands and watch all the action.
Back in my Sheriff's Dept. days I worked split shifts and could attend at least one or two practice days when I had a day or two off during the week. The last several years though I worked a more conventional 8-5 Monday through Friday life and couldn't attend and really missed it. This year one of my goals was to spend a little quality time at the track and yesterday was the day.
Rudee and I headed out on the bike shortly after 10am for the 60 mile ride to Indy.. The weather was absolutely perfect and it felt really great to be out on the bike.
We stayed off the interstate and rode the old National Highway US 40 into the city. The track is situated on the west side of Indy and we paid our $20 entry fee and was directed to the special motorcycle only parking.
The green flag for the track had just been waived before we arrived and there were already a few cars making laps. We found a seat in the bleachers nearby and watched for awhile.
The cars would speed by for a few laps and then duck into the pits and make some chassis changes or tweak this or that and head back out to see if their adjustments added any speed. We had packed our lunch and decided to eat while watching the cars and then go exploring.
Once we had lunch out of the way and the cooler back into the bike we headed for the main grandstands. Here is where all the cars move from the garage area out into the pit area on the track.
The grandstands here look over the pits as well as down the main straightaway of the track. Several cars were here being worked on while the drivers sat waiting.
We were nearby when they moved the #14 car out onto pit road and headed for their stall. The #14 car is well known as being owned, and formally driven by, AJ Foyt so we headed down that way with hopes of doing a little celebrity spotting and what do you know, ole Tex himself!
We watched some more of the action on pit road and eventually worked our way back toward the bike and returned to our lunch spot to watch the cars on the track some more. The track is open for practice until 6pm but we wanted to beat the traffic so we left about 4pm and headed towards Plainfield where we met Rudee's sister and her husband for dinner at Applebees before heading back home. Wow, what a great day! I really had a wonderful time and sure appreciate Rudee putting up with the heat and my little boy, wide eyed fascination with race cars! :-)
Tuesday we decided to go for another ride and ended up heading south. Our destination was the casino in French Lick Indiana, hometown of Larry Bird. We had a nice ride but luck wasn't on our side this trip as the slot machines were not in a "giving" mood. We gave up on them fairly early and spent some time walking around the resort. The place sure has changed a lot since 1978 when we spent part of our honeymoon here. There was no casino here and the resort was left over from the roaring 20's era and was rich in history but had fallen into disrepair in the last several years. The casino changed all that and the place is as shiny as a new penny now.
Tomorrow we report for work at 4pm to start another work week. We are enjoying our jobs here and look forward to learning new things and meeting all the new campers that arrive. Come and see us and I'll cook ya breakfast and if ya can't come see us, I'll keep you posted!