May 13, 2000
Today was the official start of the month of May in Indianapolis - Opening Day ceremonies at the Motor Speedway!
The entire day was beautiful and sunny. Temperatures got up to 70 degrees F. It was also very windy.
It was Family Day at the track and so I went with my friend Brian and his family. Traffic was not bad at all. When we entered the speedway, his three girls had free admission and were given very nice racing pennants by the ticket taker.
We parked in the 3rd turn. I think the only other large place left in the infield to park is that reserved lot over behind tower terrace. Theres a decent size parking area in turn 1 also. We could see a line of pace cars (Olds Auroras) driving around the track, each with a 500 princess. Blast! We'd missed the opening ceremonies.
We trekked across gravel, blacktop, and grass; carrying our coolers and pushing the baby stroller. Up hills, under rope and over a tall steel guard rail (for the new F1 track). We finally made it over to the pit lanes. There was a shuttle service that could have driven us, but being the young brave adventurers that we are, we decided to rough it and head cross country. This enabled us to check out the new viewing hill along the new F1 track. That is going to be a great place to sit for the U.S. Grand Prix this September. I think especially at the far north end of it. I also observed to my chagrin that about all of the 4th turn infield is now off limits.
The new 13-Story pogoda tower looks a lot better than the one it replaces! It looked completed. Infact most of the new construction is completed, but there were still a few building in progress.
The tower terrace seats took a beating. All along the terrace, there are these enclosed green glass suits. Over by where the new F1 garages are, there is another set of green-glassed suites above them, with stands above them. In May, there are bleachers infront of all the F1 garages. These bleachers only go up 8 rows and so you don't get much of a height advantage and at the track, that is what you want.
We walked out behind the tower and passed Tony George. He was past me before I could say hello. There is a large black top plaza behind the tower with a stage, vendors and picnic tables lining the border. Since it was "Family Day", there were some clowns blowing balloons, face painters, a family of jugglers, a band of Scottish bagpipers, a rock band, and a in-race car video game for the kids.
There is a new two-story building that runs all along the length of the garage area. On the top floor are restrooms with a promenade around the outside. Its a great place to hang out and see drivers and mechanic working on their cars if you can't get a garage pass. I saw Mark Dismore and Scott Sharp. Little Al's pits are visible from there as well.
We watched practice by the end of the pits. Scott Goodyear ran a lot. Saw some of Little Al and Airton Dare. Little Al's car was loud! I think the wind was keeping a lot of people off the track this day. Fastest average speed was only 214 mph by Tyce Carlson.
There was no one sitting on the outside of track except over in one suite section up high, and down in the NW Vista. We had eaten the lunch we packed and decided to trek all the way down to the NW Vista. So we packed up the double stroller to overflowing with coolers and bags. We headed north like some wilderness family in a covered wagon. Or so it seemed to me, being single and used to traveling light and fast.
I received my Formula One ticket assignment a few months ago. My seats are in the NW vista. I was anxious to find them and see what my view is going to be like. They will be great! I'll see practially 3/4 of the course! I was talking to two old white haired men. They were cursing the new changes, thought there were not enough bathrooms, didn't care for F1 and yearned for some tradition. Whatever. The F1 race is going to be bad to the bone and the speedway is way more awesome than ever! Unless your tower terrace seats got wiped out :-O
Oh. And there is that lack of parking in the fourth turn now which sucks.
Tommorow is Mothers Day. I wonder if mom will want to go and see Little Al....
[Later Update - We had left the track at 3:30, before happy hour. Evidently we missed Eddie Cheever smacking the wall. Also, Little Al ended up with the fastest time of the day!]