|Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday - May 26, 2002
We waited until almost the last moment to get our race tickets
this year. ET, who lives in Detroit, had scored Stand J tickets
for us this week. However, they were very low and we were
looking for something better. I found some Penthouse A tickets
through the internet and went and met the guy the day before
the race at some parking lot. I was able to find a co-worker who
then bought ET's tickets.
During the afternoon, as we waited for this co-worker to show
up, we threw a football around. My dog suddenly became real
ill, and I had to take him to a 24-hour hospital. Ends up he has
a sore back thats affecting his spinal cord and I had to
hospitalize him for all of race day. This cost me $700. :-(
Jay and Betty got into town, and since they had just gotten
married and were on their honeymoon, Jay got a hotel instead
of crashing on my floor. They met us at Joe's Crab Shack for
dinner. Afterward we went to Baskin Robbins for some ice
cream. ET and I rented "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"
and Jay headed back to his hotel.
Although we were up late the night before, ET and I were
able to get up early and get ready to go to the race. Jay and
Betty showed up at 7:30 and by 8am we were on our way to
the race which starts at 11. Although I have a backseat only
big enough for a 3 year-old, Jay and Betty decided to ride
along with me anyway. As we headed up the interstate, I was
not too surprised to see the exits at 10th Street and
Crawfordsville Road backed up big time. I was surprised to
find 38th Street backed up though! I cruised by all of these
exits and ended up taking 56th Street in to I-65, and then
down to Kessler Avenue, and then onto 30th street and
toward the track. It ended up working out pretty well I think.
We decided to park behind a grocery store at the corner of
30th and Georgetown Road. It cost $20. I did not bring any
ice or drinks. I had everything packed into one backpack and
it was very light. Jay on the other hand, had a backpack and
cooler with ice and a mini-keg and he must have been
carrying 50lbs! HA ha, his ice alone probably weighed more
than my pack. Considering all the walking you do at the
speedway, I try to carry as light a load as possible.
Fortunately, butt cushions fall into the light weight category.
Always nice to have these for the bleachers.
As we headed to the track, we walked along the coke lot
and got to view the crazy campsites set up by the wild ones.
Most of the camps had a mountain of empty beer cans and
I saw one father shelter his young boy's eyes as he hurried
him past one camp which had two inflatable sex dolls , one
had a coke bottle shoved up its crotch, the other a large
One campsite had a tent set-up on top of a camper.
A sign stated "Sarah Fisher Slept Here".
The lines were long waiting to get into the track.
We crossed the street and entered and bypassed all these
people waiting in line along the fence and sidewalk.
Just the sheer number of people make this a spectacle.
They didn't search my backpack when I entered, but Jay
got stopped. ET and I lost those two in the crowd.
We walked along the track in front of the stands where
there was plenty of room. Meanwhile, thousands of people
pressed and strained in the outer sidewalks as they made
I ended up losing track of ET none the less. I guess if you
have a kid, you better have them on a leash!
Regardless, we all made it to our seats in time to watch
some of the festivities.
|Jay and Betty ready to hike to the track.
|Here is row 3 down in front of me, getting ready.
|Teams getting the cars ready on the grid
|Crowds inside the facility are left of the fence.
People standing along other side of fence waiting in line to enter.
Then people wandering in street heading towards their gate.
|The sidewalk that runs between the track and the Paddock.
These were good seats to see the festivities.
One of my favorite moments is the fly over. This year, the
Stealth Bomber flew over.
Unfortunately, it flew over our stands which had a roof, and
we didn't get to see it. :-(
There was this huge extended family of Texans sitting
around us. There must have been 30 of them. Another
good example of a big family with a 500 tradition.
A couple people next to my seats didn't show up, so I had
plenty of room, yea!
I arrived too late to see the bands and parade.
I did see a bunch of servicemen get paraded around the
track in Corvette convertibles.
This year's 500 is highly anticipated as the competition
looks pretty stiff.
Before the race began, the four of us decided to place a
$10 bet with each other on who would win.
I had chosen 3 people weeks ago - Robbie Buhl was
the guy I wanted to win, Helio Castroneves was my logical
choice, and Tony Kanaan was my gut feeling.
I went with my gut feeling - TK
E.T. chose Sam Hornish Jr
Jay chose Helio and Betty took Gil de Ferran.
|Sam Hornish Jr leaving pits
|Helio Castroneves is the 2001 & 2002 Indy 500 Champion!
Helio Castroneves & Roger Penske take a victory lap
I had a good view of the pits.
Hornish did well and was looking like a good choice, when
he touched the wall and messed up his wheels. While he
was able to get it repaired, he lost a dozen laps. Soon, my
guy, Kanann, was leading! Yea! I was feeling pretty smart.
But then he hit someone's oil and smacked the wall.
I had an excellent view of the big scoring pylon, so it was
easy to keep track of the race order. I miss my scanner.
Maybe next year I'll rent one from the truck out on
It was a pretty day but I didn't get any sun in these seats
because of the roof.
During the race, you have to lean forward to see the cars
coming, but its still hard to tell who is who from where I was
sitting (Penthouse A, Box 20). Basically , I just sat back
and watched the rears of the cars as they entered Turn 1.
This is one of the reason I prefer row A of the Penthouses.
It was pretty loud under that metal roof, and I opted to use
ear plugs. With cars constantly going by, its too loud to talk
to anyone anyway.
I'd noticed that while the Speedway lies in several flight
paths for the nearby international airport, no jet airliners
were being allowed to fly over during the race!
Also, all the little planes that were towing around banners
and the helicopters bringing in the rich, all disappeared
when the Stealth arrived.
At one point, there was a loud boom. The first thing I
thought of was some terrorist bomb! (This was the first
race since 9/11)
Anyway, the loud boom was caused by the fuel tank in
Robby Gordon's pits. These large tanks have lids about the
size of manhole covers. Their's built up pressure somehow
and blew that top off about 30 feet into the air. Luckily
people saw it coming and scattered. It landed close to the
stands, several pits down and didn't hit anyone.
That silver round thing on the ground back by the stands
is the lid that blew off.
On the fuel tank for Red Bull Cheever Racing, you can see
where these lids attach.
Immediately, guys with suds and water started dousing the
tank and Gordon's car.
They say you can't see methanol burn.
After they'd soaked it, then a whole lot of guys starting
sweeping up the water to keep it off the pit lane.
Wow, what a fast response!
This race preceded well, with very few cautions or accidents.
One unfortunate was rookie Tomas Scheckter, who led many
laps in his Infiniti-powered car before smacking the wall.
Buddy Lazier also wrecked his Infinity Dalara.
I bought some bottled water from the refreshment stand for
$3. First time I've ever payed for water. Jay filled it up with
beer for me from his mini keg. (You da man, Jay!)
Toward the end of the race, it was pretty evident that Helio
was going to win it again (and Jay our money.) But Helio
was running very low on fuel and Paul Tracy was starting to
There was a wreck on the 2nd to last lap of the race and
the yellow flag came out. I thought Helio had wrecked!
That meant Paul Tracy would win! Holy cow.
But then, along came Helio. Someone else had wrecked
and the yellow came out for the last lap and that was that.
Helio Castroneves had won his 2nd Indy 500 victory in his
second attempt. Very impressive!
Helio completed another lap and brought the car to a stop
in the middle of the track on the finish line. He got out and
ran over to the fence to climb it, as is his tradition. He was
joined by others on his Penske Racing team.
Team Green argued that their driver, Paul Tracy, had been
in the lead when the yellow came out, but track officials
said Helio was the winner.
As people filed out, we hung out and waited and watched
the interviews on the monitor.
ET roamed around looking for and eating other people's
He should have saved his appetite as we would soon end
up at the Outback steak house.
Finally we were able to pull off into a gas station. I then
followed some locals through some parking lots and got
free of the traffic.
We decided to stop at a Outback Restaurant we'd found.
Jay bought us dinner. By the time we got out of there, we
didn't have any trouble getting to the highway.
The next day, ET treated us to brunch at Le Peeps
downtown. That place is great. Unfortunately, I had to go
into work on Memorial Day due to some critical deadlines,
so Jay and Betty returned to Alabama and ET headed
back to Michigan.
I hope that next year, I will be able to take off more days and
go out to the track more. Hopefully next May won't be as
rainy and cold. I hope the competition is as fierce as this
Eventually some yellow shirt told us to get out so we started
We explored some of the souvenir stands set up outside of
the track. I found a small American flag to go on my car
We took our time making our way back to the car.
By the time we left the parking lot, several hours had
passed since the race had ended. I pulled out onto
Georgetown and went north to 38th Street. I decided to
make a left there to go catch 465. Big mistake. Traffic
wasn't moving in that direction. I eventually was able to turn
off onto another road. I then ran into another road block!
Geesh. It wasn't moving either and I was low on gas.
|Hanging out and smoking a cigar after the race.
In the background you can see how the speedway opens the track after the race
to allow fans to cross to the infield at the south end of the track.
|I'm leaving the penthouse level, heading toward the stairs.
|As E.T. eats some fried chicken he found,
Jay flashes the "LOSER" symbol.