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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2015

99th Running of the Indianapolis 500

May 26, 2015

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 photo 720x405-GettyImages-474628912_zpsv36yfu2q.jpg David Letterman

 photo 549234_10153311018673913_2332476008618016873_n_zpsmo4y9bht.jpg

 photo 635680653236548372-celebs-11_zpsfkziyrf6.jpg Patrick Dempsey 

 photo 635680634786111296-002-indycelebs_zpsc519v4df.jpg Perry Farrell

99th Running of the Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 is in my DNA, I literally grew up on it, first going to the track at age 4 with my grandfather and father, there is still a grainy 8 mm home movie taken that day somewhere that shows me holding my grandfather’s hand wondering through the original museum at 16th & Georgetown, walking past the old wooden garage area, looking in at those classic 1960s cars and then sitting in the stands gleefully watching cars take practice laps on the historic oval.

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 photo 155_zpsym0pzqod.jpg Rick Mears

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 photo 099_zpshbiksvey.jpg Jason

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I have returned to the Speedway every year since and have attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1973, when my father & I sat in the tower terrace through three days of rain & wreckage in what most agree was the worst race ever. It didn’t deter me at all, I was hooked and every Memorial Day weekend since has found me sitting in the stands watching 43 straight Indy 500s.  I was back again this year as usual, under beautiful May skies to attend what is the 99th running of the race.

 photo 140_zpsl6j8l8gp.jpg Arie Lyendyk

 photo 166_zpsghxmtrds.jpg Johnny & Betty Rutherford

 photo 160_zpskrqmo6dh.jpg Danny Sullivan

 photo 1509018_10154134689894368_5012430468593830304_n_zpshsil7qsn.jpg Colts' Robert Mathis

Since this is one of Kathy’s off years, (she is an every other year attendee), my friend Dakota had other commitments and my sister and her boys were all out of town, I found myself not having the usual crowd that go with me around. Rather than be disappointed, though of course I was a little, I had the freedom to go to the race with my friend Kevin who also has pre-race credentials that get him in the garage, pits and track prior to the start.

 photo 133_zps9ulm497x.jpg Al Unser

 photo 028_zpsbbupjz8a.jpg Michael & Ryan Briscoe

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 photo 10363326_10154148755009368_3361427894201834449_n_zpsny4bc6ud.jpg Ryan Hunter-Reay

This enabled us to mingle about freely for all the pre-race hoopla and activity as the teams, drivers, officials and “celebrities” all did their pre-race rituals in advance of the start. There is nothing quite like being on the grid as they line the cars up for the start of the race. The place is packed yet there are still celebrities milling around with the common folk and the teams struggle to get the cars last minute preparations complete amongst the chaos.

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 photo 123_zpsjcuzgcte.jpg Paul George

The pre-race rituals are traditional at the Indy 500 and include such things as a parade of celebrities, former Indy 500 winners, a tribute to our armed forces, pre-race prayer, the playing of Taps, the singing of America the Beautiful, Back Home Again in Indiana and the balloon release, the National Anthem and Military fly-over and of course the most famous words in Motorsports, “Gentlemen (Drivers) Start Your Engines”.

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 photo 050_zpsehnksaqf.jpg Kevin

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Kevin & I had a great morning, arriving early to check out all the pre-race fun. In the garage area we ran into the stars of the TV series, The Deadliest Catch. The long-time fishing show featuring boat crews fishing in Alaska. It was cool to hang out with them and they were nice and interesting as well and seemingly having a great time.

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 photo 635680653236236364-celebs-9_zpstc2hzd10.jpg Kid Rock

 photo 635680653235612348-celebs-10_zpsoxgqjtth.jpg Andrew Luck

Other celebrities that I spotted included recently retired David Letterman, Olympian Nastia Lukin, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Ferrell, Kid Rock, Fuzzy Zoeller, Indiana Pacer all-star Paul George, Colts QB Andrew Luck and actor Patrick Dempsey. Of course Florence Henderson was on hand to sing again, though sadly Jim Nabors was gone, betwereplaced by acapella singing group Straight No Chaser, who could not in my opinion do justice to Back Home Again in Indiana.

 photo 635680634792195452-001-indycelebs_zps9zpbyjdc.jpg Nastia Lukin 

 photo 136_zpsavx7bcyd.jpg Dario Franchitti

 photo 635680716797726104-12-Indy500-DM_zpsemtmpyca.jpg Florence Henderson

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 photo 084_zpsujtx50ks.jpg Fuzzy Zoeller

The race itself was spectacular, close racing from the drop of the green flag when pole-sitter Scott Dixon charged in to the lead. Dixon would lead the most laps and have something of a dominant car early on.  Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power both had strong runs, leading many laps as did Tony Kanaan who was in contention when he crashed out in turn four late in the race.

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Juan Pablo Montoya had early wing damage when Simona De Sivestro hit him on lap 7, dropping him to last place. He spent the rest of the race steadily battling back in to contention and when the race was restarted after a caution with 16 laps to go, he was part of an epic shoot-out between Power, Dixon and Montoya that may have been the best three car battle in Indy 500 history. With four laps remaining, Montoya was able to slip past Power and then hold him off the final laps for his second Indy 500 victory (in three races), he last won in the year 2000, before heading off to F1 and NASCAR.

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It was a thrilling wonderful Indy 500 and after all the concern about cars flying around, nothing like that materialized. The only sad part was that the Honda teams were down on power or else we might have had even more cars in the crazy final battle. I cannot wait until next year when the Speedway will host the 100th running of the race.

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