May 30, 2011
Dan & Michael
The Indianapolis 500 is known almost as much for its famous traditions as for the race itself. “Back Home Again In Indiana”, the command “Ladies and Gentleman Start Your Engines”, the playing of “Taps”, the release of the balloons and the flying start are just as memorable to most fans as anything that actually happens in the race. In the 39 years that I have been attending, I have developed a few of my own traditions leading up to the race.
Michael & Oriol Servia
Many of my friends, especially those who did not grow up in Indianapolis, wonder why I return year after year for a car race. It is really difficult to explain, the race and all its trappings is such a part of me that I have trouble expressing it. From my first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with my grandfather in 1968, to the many years that my father brought me out to the track and eventually to the race itself; no matter what was going on with our lives, the race was always a part of it. Once I became a teenager, I was often skipping school to hang out at the track- enjoying the notorious “Snake Pit” and generally behaving badly- yet always attending the race as a fan.
No matter what was happening in my life, I have made the effort to come to the race. The past 20 years, I have had to travel back from my home in Key West, attending with girlfriends, friends, family and eventually with my wife Kathy. I have held the same seats high in turn 3 for years, settling on those after having experienced the race from just about every angle over the years.
One of the relatively recent traditions, yet one of my favorites is the annual Crawfish Boil hosted by my friends Rick & Becky. They import a couple of hundred pounds of Crawfish from New Orleans and host a day before the race party for their friends each year. They moved around the corner into a new, larger house and the boil moved with them. With beer on tap provided by my two favorite brewmasters, Ted of Brugge Brasserie and Kevin from the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, the crawfish boil has excellent libations and food.
Jerome & Kevin
Tim & Andy
After the boil, we held our annual race Calcutta, where drivers are auctioned off and the money placed in a pot that is divided up between the first 5 places and last place. I teamed with my nephew Jerome to bid on two rookie drivers James Hinchcliffe and James Hildebrand- inexpensive longshots that I felt had a shot at placing near the top.
Tim, John & Shannon
Keegan & Melanie
Race day itself dawned warm and sunny, there were huge traffic jams even early – though my secret back way allowed me to avoid most of it as I made my way to the parking area on the north end of the track. My friend Dan is a lap sponsor, meaning he gets special race day pit and garage passes and he invited me to join him this year- so I met him out in the garage area early to watch the final preparations for the start of the race. My nephews, Jerome, Pat & Chris would ride over to the track together and meet me in our seats before the race started.
Michael & Jason
Dan & Pippa Mann
Being in the garage, pits and grid prior to the race is a special and amazing opportunity as drivers, teams, celebrities, officials, sponsors and the like congregate as the cars are brought out and placed on the starting grid.