Saturday, July 14, 2007

Indy day trippin’ (Part 2)

This time one year ago, I had just returned from my second “Coast to Coast” road trip to the Brickyard. Which was entirely different from my first trek to Mecca with Mary Ellen.

Clyde & I made an obscenely fast jaunt across the country, driving from Tacoma, WA to Indianapolis in 2.5 days! Stopping only briefly to visit the Corn Palace, a car model museum and a brief portion of the Badlands…

With the USGP now being held in the summertime, (July 2, 2006) it was obviously much warmer then when I’d attended the fall 2001 event. Yet I was once again fortunate enough to partake in another full three days of Formula 1 action.

Being a “seasoned” veteran of the USGP, albeit five year’s prior, we once again parked inside the race track and partook (Parkay, No Butter, Parkay…) in the days festivities via the grassy knolls (burms) while avoiding the Brickyard Crossing sand traps.

The supporting cast this year was the Formula BMW USA and Indy Pro Series with guest driver Graham Rahal. Along with the Porsche Supercup. Yet as always, my favourite performers were the Formula 1 cruise missiles!

And we even managed to escape a heavy downpour which began as we were meandering our way thru the Formula BMW paddock upon the end of first day practice.

Friday night Clyde & I picked up “Auntie” Harriet at the Indianapolis Airport. You see, I’ve been spending the past several years kibitzing about Formula 1 with my 87 ½ year old Aunt, whom always refers to Formula 1 as the “Big Boyzs.” Which recently has left me pondering if this is an age or generational thing? As I also heard a senior Indy Car owner refer to this term when describing the higher echelons of the Indy Car fraternity this past May, i.e.; Penske, Ganassi, etc.

And I suppose its HELL getting old? As I myself am getting old-ER! Yet every time I talk to Harriet on the telephone she’ll ask me, Ok, now when is the next race? Where are the big boyzs racin’? May be I should write it down? When is the next race? You know the Big Boyzs… Oh Saturday on channel 33… No the RACE is Sunday on SPEED… Qualifying is Saturday… When is the race? May be I should write it down. Oh, you’d better call and remind me again. Now where are the Big Boyzs racin…

Yet somehow Clyde managed to convince Harriet to fly alone to Indiana and meet us in order to attend her very first Formula 1 race at the tender age of 86! So that was pretty cool… Not to be confused with the weather which was NOT cool! But I digress.

Saturday morning we got up early to attend practice and qualifying and we even managed to get front row parking with Harriet’s handicap parking pass. Meandering about the infield section we spotted a beautifully restored 1928 Duesenberg Indy 500 racer parked outside, where we posed for a quick photo. Fortunately the “Yellow Shirt” IMS worker convinced us to check out the Hall of Fame museum which I’d been hoping we’d get a chance too… Where all Harriet wanted to see at the museum was Barney Olfield, who isn’t in the museum. And we spent way too LITTLE time in the museum; flying thru the various displays in less than an hour, prior to the morning’s qualifying session.

The museum had totally rotated the collection of race cars on display. Pulling out various Indy/F1 vehicles like Jimmy Clark’s 1965 Indy 500 winner, A Stewart Grand Prix chassis, etc. And this time once again I was drawn to the wonderful hues of a Day-Glo orange turbine race car. Yet I was even more mesmerized by the wedge shaped Lotus 56 Graham Hill chassis then the 1963 STP turbine driven by ‘ole Parnelli Rufus Jones I’d seen 5 yrs earlier. In fact I was so awed by this car that I forgot to snap a picture of it!

Sitting in a grandstand with the F1 cars coming straight towards us, Harriet could barely be heard above the din of these fabulous creatures. Who’s the white car? Which one? As there were four teams in white livery. (BMW Sauber, Honda, Toyota, Williams) Yet you could always tell when Michael Schumacher was coming as the air horns sounded all around the Speedway…

For qualifying we tried a totally different vantage point, which became quite comical when asking for directions from the Yellow Shirts on how to get to the elevators to get above the pit lane. NO! This elevator is ONLY for Emperor Bernardo…
Finally arriving at the handicap seats, some 35+ minutes later. We enjoyed the sounds and sights of all ten final Q3 combatants screaming out of the pits to begin burning off petrol! Even more impressive was listening to the various F1 drivers simulating standing start launches at the end of the pit lane! And the weekend was shaping up quite nicely with the two Ferrari’s at the top of the time sheets, once again headed by Michael Schumacher. It was even cooler getting to watch the qualifying press conference live via closed circuit TV as we were departing. As I remember fondly watching Michael speaking German, Felipe speaking Portuguese and leaving as Giancarlo Fisichella was speaking in Italian...
To continue reading, see: Indy Day Trippin' (Part 3)