Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Brenda and I went down to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to see qualifying and practice for the All-State Brickyard 400. It was a day of peaks and valleys. No one asked us for any money although I'd been told tickets to get in for qualifying would be $25, so that was a peak. The rain that postponed qualifying and initially looked like it had set in for the day was a definite valley. No matter what had happened weatherwise though, just being at the venerable old track in its centennial year, with its pagoda and grandstands on both sides and beloved yard of bricks and all the racing history that has taken place there, would have been a peak.

We hiked out to the souvenir haulers in spite of the drizzle. I bought a Jimmie Johnson jacket on sale which I figured I was getting for free since I didn't have to buy a ticket. (Peak.) You could tell the most popular drivers because they had the biggest mudholes in front of their haulers.

We ate lunch. I would advise against an IMS breaded tenderloin which was a definite valley. Listened to the live band playing on the plaza, which were all pretty good. The sun came out, the dryers were on the track. It was announced that qualifying would start at 2:00 p.m.

We crammed against the fence to watch the cars being pushed out onto the track. They were followed by the drivers, crew chiefs and other personnel I've become familiar with via television. As Jimmie was walking out, a man stopped him and he stood right in front of me for a minute or two. He is even handsomer in person! (A big peak). All of this was probably more exciting for me than it was for Brenda who is only a second-hand NASCAR fan.

My discussion group friends have always told me that you can't really appreciate NASCAR until you've had the thrill of actually hearing the cars on the track and they were right. The roar of the engines is so loud, the grandstands practically reverberate. The noise affected me the same way the scream of rock and roll the guitars used to back in the day.

My cheerleading did not help Jimmie any in qualifying. He was sixteenth. (Valley). Mark Martin got the pole. (Deeper valley - Mark is one of my least favorite drivers).

We stayed for practice which made me think I might not choose the Brickyard if I was going to an actual race. At Indianapolis, with the grandstands on both sides, the cars are in sight only when they are on the straight-away directly in front of you, then they disappear for two miles until they come back around. Maybe it is my age but the television screens weren't clear and I couldn't hear the announcers very well so I had no clue what was going on in the others parts of the track. Of course, I'm probably lying. Give me the opportunity to get tickets and go with someone who knows how to navigate the raceday traffic and see what happens.

During practice, someone stole my jacket when I wasn't paying attention. So much for saving money on my ticket. (Valley).

I have been a NASCAR fan for exactly one year. The first race I ever watched was the 2008 Brickyard. I've listened to thousands of miles of the Sirius NASCAR channel since then. I've watched thousands of hours of NASCAR programming on t.v., not only the races themselves but the pre and post-race shows. (Although prior to NASCAR, my television needed GPS to know how to get to Fox and ESPN and SPEED). I've read millions of words about drivers and crew chiefs and owners and paint schemes and statistics and history. And now I've seen it all up close and personal. In spite of a few shallow valleys, I felt like I'd been to the top of Mount Everest.