Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Indianapolis 500 Pre-Game

We'd already spent some time exploring Indiana and I'd say we'd made a pretty big dent in what was available to see. I had not yet seen the event of all events in Indiana, though.

When flipping through my copy of 1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die, I am often annoyed by the one time events. I couldn't just wake up tomorrow and go to the Kentucky Derby tomorrow, for example. I feel like a fairly spontaneous dude, which may hamper my ability to plan trips very far in advance. So as a result, the Indy 500 page of the book annoyed me greatly. It was something awesome that I had heard of but not yet done. How could this be? Luckily Lydia and her friends Steph and Amy are better at planning than I am. I donated the use of my rockin' car to the effort, and away we went.

In an interesting departure from my usual routine, we didn't leave right after work Friday evening. It was Memorial Day weekend, and the race wasn't going to happen until Sunday. This was kind of nice because I still had the option of hanging out with my pals one night. Sometimes too much weekend globetrotting makes me feel a bit anti-social.

We left Saturday morning painfully bright and early, and I slept most of the drive there. Without my awesome influence I can't imagine anything interesting happened.

We spent the majority of two days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first was like a low key racing themed mini carnival. There were plenty of people but not overwhelming at all. This is such a big deal that town it is located in is called Speedway, Indiana.

We started off early with some margaritas and bloody marys.

The Speedway's control tower was housed in this cool Pagoda building. This is like a cool spacey version of the old school pagodas I saw in Japan. There was a panel of what I think were old race announcers/sports reporters or something. They were talking about the glory days, and we listened while having some bbq sandwiches in the shade nearby. Eventually they moved on to questions from the audience, and of course some person had to ask them a question about crashes. At least one of the panel members was moved to tears talking about some racing friend of theirs torn to bits on the track. Classy, audience, very classy.

We toured the area where the teams apparently stayed. The biggest RVs I've ever seen were all in a line, each with their own sealed tents. These were pretty much individual moon bases.

Across from the team moon bases were what looked to be the car garages. I thought it was really cool that we were allowed to see all the secret stuff behind the scenes.

These cars are surprisingly difficult to get in and out of. I wouldn't want to have to try to escape one on fire.

The final thing on our agenda was Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. We were playing the "guess how much it costs" game while waiting in line outside. I thought maybe $14. I was pleasantly surprised when we reached the ticket window and the price was $5, but it was quickly apparent that you get what you pay for. The museum was full of people and uncomfortably warm. My first impression was, this isn't a museum, it's a collection. It's pretty much a room full of cars and signs and people. I couldn't help but compare this place to the time I went to the Kentucky Derby Museum. Kentucky was way, way better.

After the cars, all of the funky awards given to the winners were really interesting. Release the hounds!

The only bit of multimedia was a 20 minute long movie in a tiny little theater. The projector had one of those big green spots in the center of the picture.

We agreed that I should have one of these filled with rum at our apartment.

After a long day of racing related learning we were ready to just take it easy. Steph and Amy had never been to my favorite ice cream place ever, so we drove south to Columbus to visit Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor. It's a magical place. The girls didn't seem as hugely impressed with the place as I am, but I think they enjoyed themselves.

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