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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, June 07, 2019

103rd Indianapolis 500

May 26, 2019



Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

103rd Indianapolis 500

There was a great deal of uncertainty about whether or not the 103rd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing would even happen on its scheduled day, as the forecast on the morning of the race was calling for somewhere between a 50 and 75 percent chance of showers and almost every prognosticator was doubtful that the race would happen or at least the certainty that it would not make it to completion. It has been a nice long run of Indy 500s without a rain postponement so I guess we were due, but one thing you can never count on is an Indiana forecast and not a drop of rain fell the entire day.


For the first time in ages, I did not have an entourage to escort to the race, with Kathy not here, no guests from Key West and my tickets given out to very self-sufficient friends, it was only my sister Michele and myself who made our way out to the Speedway. As always, I was able to get in with very little hassle or traffic and park in my spot that guarantees easy exit as well and we made our way into the track with no problems at all.


We were able to wonder around in the infield near the pits prior to the race, as usual it was a mad scene with thousands of fans swarming the place. Things were somewhat calmer in the garage and on the grid where celebrities were out taking in the spectacle. Among those on hand this year were David Letterman, Matt Damon, Christain Bale, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and former Formula One driver Damon Hill.

Marco and Mario Andretti

Damon Hill and Simon Pagenaud

Graham Rahal an Mike Turico

NBC sports was broadcasting the race for the first time ever after it having been on ABC for many, many years. They pulled out all the stops bringing in their A-team of broadcaThe rsters led by Mike Turico. They even did a lot of cross promotion with their coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs by having the actual Stanley Cup on hand and even given a ride around the famed oval in the two-seater driven by Mario Andretti.


Matt Damon


Tony Kanaan and David Letterman

As always the prerace ceremonies were among the greatest half hour that I experience every year. From the invocation, the playing of taps in honor of Memorial Day, the tribute to our armed forces, the singing of “God Bless America”, the National Anthem (sung this year wonderfully by Kelly Clarkson), the flyover by military jets, the singing of “Back Home Again In Indiana”, the release of the balloons, and finally the command “Lady and Gentlemen Start Your Engines” given this year by Tony George, it is among the most magical experiences that I have every year and I know there are a few hundred thousand fans who agree.


It was all spot on and terrific this year and it was probably the best flyover ever in that the participating aircraft did not simply fly over as usual but turned and buzzed the track, screaming around through the turns and performing tricks usually reserved for an airshow. It was spectacular.

The overcast weather was actually a benefit as the cloud cover that lasted almost to the end of the race kept the sun from creating the sweltering oven that we experienced at last year’s race. The expected rain never materialized, in fact by the end of the day, the sun had broken through and it turned out to be a beautiful day. The racing was somewhat better than last year, when passing was very tough.

Simon Pagenaud took off from the Pole Position and dominated much of the early portion of the race, he would ultimately led 116 of the 200 laps en route to a popular and well deserved victory, his first Indianapolis 500 win. It did not come easy, after cruising much of the early part of the race, a late yellow for a five car crash instigated when Graham Rahal and Sebastian Bourdais collided collecting other cars right in front of us, entering turn three.

IndyCar wisely called a red flag, stopping the race and creating an incredible shootout between Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi as they swapped places multiple times before Pagenaud was able to make the final pass for the lead on the final lap to grab the win. Takuma Sato was a close third. It was an amazing and incredible final fifteen laps and moved the race from the very good to a true classic. Pagenaud was a popular and gracious victor, giving Roger Penske his 18th victory in the World’s Greatest Race.


May 24, 2019

Savannah, Melanie, Tracy and Adrian

Pre- Race

The last few days leading up to the actual Indianapolis 500 are as filled with activities and tradition as anything that happens on race day itself and in some ways those days leading up to race day are as fun, or more so, than the actual race. Something about the anticipation, combined with so many fun events packed into a few short days makes the weekend one of my absolute favorites of the entire year.

Ashley and Caitlin

Nancy and Michael

The fun starts with Carb Day, which is traditionally held on the Friday prior to the race at the Speedway. Carb Day gets its name from the long since vanished carburetors, which have not been on cars for decades, tradition dies hard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carb Day is basically the last practice session for the IndyCars before the Sunday race, they get about an hour on Friday morning to check things out, fine-tune and have one last opportunity to get track time before the race starts.

Kevin and Michael

Caitlin, Paul and Ashley

Carb Day has become over the years a much bigger deal than just the final practice, the Speedway has packed an entire day of activities to attract and entertain fans. In addition to the practice session for the IndyCars, the Freedom 100 race for the minor league, Indy Lights is held as is the pit stop competition and of course the Carb Day concert, which this year featured the bands Kool and the Gang and Foreigner.

Carb Day is always a big, big day for me. For many, probably twenty or more, years, I have met with a revolving group of friends at the track that has always included myself and my buddies Pat and Kevin. This year we were back again and I was able to swing ten passes to my friend Brent’s amazing Tower Terrace Suite for us to hang out in.

Will Power

This year I did not exactly invite anyone from Key West, but my friend Ashley and her boyfriend Paul who live in Key West were on hand along with Ashley’s sister Caitlin. Ashley grew up in Indianapolis, went to the same high school as I did (Cathedral) and I even was in the same graduating class as her aunt Nancy. She is now an attorney in Key West, but was bringing Paul home to attend his first Indy 500.

This being Kathy’s year off (she attends the Indy 500 every other year), I was happy to have additional friends joining us for Carb Day. The Suite is a perfect place to relax and watch the festivities and the Indy Lights race never fails to disappoint. Something about those cars on the 2.5 mile oval brings out the very best in the drivers and there is always passing and crazy finishes and this year was no exception.

The race had everything, even with a limited field, crazy passing, a huge accident and a photo finish won by young Oliver Askew in what was one of the more exciting races of any kind that I have seen. After the race, we ventured down on to the track for an up close view of the Pit Stop competition. On the grid, I ran into an old Fraternity Brother from Purdue, which was an unexpected bonus.

Michael and Al

Ashley, IMS President Doug Boles and Caitlin

We did not stay for the concert, things tend to get somewhat sloppy as the afternoon goes on and I really have to be a pretty big fan of the bands playing to brave the drunkenness that comes with attending the show, sorry but Foreigner with only one original member does not fill the bill.

The Saturday before the race is called Legends Day and I found myself once again at the Speedway, where there is no on track activity per se, but they host a nifty annual memorabilia show, a full field autograph session and other events including yet another concert, this one the Legends Day concert with the Zac Brown Band. Celebrities and other VIPs start rolling in and this year that included designated Green Flag wavers, Christian Bale and Matt Damon, who were on hand to promote their upcoming movie, “Ford vs. Ferrari”.

Christian Bale, Conor Daly and Matt Damon

Lance and Beth

The afternoon found me attending two of my absolute favorite pre-race events, the annual Calcutta held at the Elliott Room at Brugge where my friends gather and hold a small-time gambling event in which drivers go up for auction with the top five and last place paying out a portion of the total collected. It is always a fun time and over the years I have done pretty well as far as winning goes.

Cathy and John

After that it was a quick trip to my friend Ashley’s pre-race/ 40th birthday party at her mother’s home for a brief pop-in before heading to my friends Rick and Becky’s annual Crawfish Boil. This event is another annual tradition that I have attended for many years, I always see friends there and though I am not a big fan of the Crawfish, I do enjoy the beer supplied by Brugge and Twenty Tap and really enjoy seeing so many old friends all at one time. It remains one of the best pre-race parties that I have the pleasure of attending each year.

Melanie and Wes