Today was the last chance for drivers to qualify for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
The weather cooperated, being warm, slightly cloudy, but dry. I had some delays (as usual) and I had to listen to the qualifying over my radio headphones as I cut my grass. I was supposed to meet some friends early and go to the museum and check out the GM tent that is set up over by the museum. I hear cars are on display and that they have pedal-car races for the kids there at the GM tent.
Once I finished my yardwork and was ready to go, my neighbor D.R. , decided to go with me. We arrived in Speedway about 2 pm. We parked for free at the corner of 16th and Georgetown, right across from the track, over by some trailers that were selling souvenirs. I knew my friends Dave and John had some unusual tickets for the race this year that they got off my website; Paddock Penthouse Pressbox they were called. This is an area the press used to sit in until the Speedway built all the new stuff along Tower Terrace last year. Dave had told me he'd meet me there.
After much looking around, D.R. and I finally found them. You have to go up the external staircase like you would to get to the Box 2-7 Paddock Penthouse area. But when you reach the first platform where the bathrooms and concessions are, you walk around a bathroom and there is a staircase leading down to an aisle way of rooms. As you can see from the following pictures, each pressbox has its own room and door and air conditioner. You are not out in the open, but closed in with windows to look through. Interesting. The doors were locked so you can't sit there until race day. There was an area in the middle that was not walled off, but it was too hot down there to stay.
I ran into Dave as we were leaving that area and went down to the lower rows in the Paddock to watch the practice with his family.
You get the best view of the race when you sit high in the outside corners. Its is easier to follow what is going on in the race, but you give up the sensation you receive when you are down close to the cars. As we sat there low and close to the straightaway, the cars zoomed by so fast that it gives you a good feel for how fast they are actually going. Its also much louder. Consequently, its more exciting being down low and close to the track. Unfortunately, its hard to tell who is zipping by. As happy hour approached, I talked them into walking down to Stand E. As we left, I stopped by the track fence down toward the end of the front straight to watch the cars go by. I was like 6 feet away from these cars rocketing by at 230+ mph. This is AWESOME. I couldn't begin to wipe the stupid grin off my face as the race cars zipped by. It is faster than you can imagine until you've seen it that close.
We made it around to Stand E and watched the last hour of qualifying, as drivers tried to bump the guys on the bubble out to make their own way into the race. Cory Witherill, the first full-blooded Navaho Indian got in and Tyce Carlson got bumped out. Then Stephen Gregoire got in, bumping out Giaffone.
Guerrero, Mears, Hattori, Hearn, Gidley, Andre, and Kite all made attempts to bump Billy Boat out over the last hour, but by 6 pm, the gun sounded (although I didn't hear it down in E) and qualifying ended and Billy Boat, who was on the pole just a few years ago, is in the race.. I hear that Giaffone is still going to get to race because his team simply used Raul Boesel as a "pinch-hitter", to qualify the car. By switching drivers, the car will have to start from 33rd position. I guess Giaffone's Hollywood cigarette sponsorship is the determining factor in his selection.
As we left, I found a bank machine!! Its a little unit by the temporary souvenir shop by the exit by the ticket office. Last week I couldn't find one anywhere. I bought a nice polo shirt there and saw a cute racing teddy bear there that I'd like to buy for one of my nieces. It is not a good idea to buy just one of them something though. As we crossed the street and approached my car, I stopped at a Trailer selling Sara Fisher stuff and found 3 identical racing Sarah Fisher tee shirts for the nieces and a tie-die Sarah shirt for my sister! That should keep them all happy.
I should also mention that they do sell Coors Light and Miller Lite on Sunday, and at some stands, you can even buy a large Fosters "oil can" of beer for $5.
The crowd was really pretty large today, the best I've seen it this year!
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