Friday, May 10, 2013

INDY 500: Reminiscing About the Centennial Race Weekend, Part 2

Having started off with a rollicking good time on Carb Day, the weekend just continued getting better in my mind; after all, its NOT everyday I get to meet ‘N greet an ex-Formula 1 driver!

Saturday, May 28
World’s Largest Autograph Session
Dave took me to the world’s largest autograph session at IMS, where we stood somewheres outside the Pagoda for nearly two hours in the hot sun, as all of my memories are fleeting, (trying to ‘Poound out the final tidbits of this story some 2yrs later...) albeit I fondly remember while standing in line and gabbing away, the man in front of us cracked up when I replied to Dave: shouldn’t Danica be in the center spread?

Very cool Target Dallara “CRAPWAGON” Cut-away car on IMS grounds.  (DOB)
Upon arriving lazily ‘round 10:30-11AM at the IMS grounds before getting in line, I still had yet to procure anything for the drivers to autograph; CRIKEYS! Thus I settled upon the 2011 IMS Centennial program as my weapon of choice - after having bought a With You Japan T-Shirt that just so happened to magically appear in front of the gift store where we located a program ‘Hawker; as the T-Shirts were being sold to help Takuma Sato’s charitable work in support of the multiple children devastated by the Tsunami that ravaged Japan earlier that year.

And thanxs solely to Dave, who did the majority of legwork ‘N spotting - I got the following fourteen drivers “John Hancock’s” during the day’s Centennial Autograph session.

Janet Guthrie, Massimiliano Papis, Mark Dismore, Andy Hillenburg, Cory Witheral, Ted Prappas, Shiggy Hatori, Herm Johnson, Stefan Johansson, Arie Luyendyk, Roberto Guerrero, Eliseo Salazar, Jonny Unser and Gary Bettenhausen.
(Drivers listed in order of autographing)

Before we’d even gotten into the autograph line, Janet Guthrie comes out into crowd causing a – ‘Mega Mob scene trying to get her John Hancock, as I believe The First Female to race at Indy is now a youthful 73yrs young; Hmm; Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? As I can still recall STUPID people shoving a young girl waiting patiently to get Janet’s autograph out of the way; SHEISA! C’mon people, pull your head’s out...

Then having fallen into the Gynormous line CARPETS begins spotting different drivers and casually asking: do you want their autograph? While I stand in line Dave hunts down the super affable MAD MAX, who tells him along with the crowd, he’ll need to wait a moment since;

Massimiliano “MAD MAX” Papis:
“My wife sez I’ve gotta get my picture taken with Janet!”

Yet like the majority of the drivers we approached; ‘Whale Otay, mostly Dave - they were all super friendly and accommodating with all of our requests - with the exception of two NO-names. (Although I must confess I’ve had nothing but wonderful interactions with 33 of the 36 past ‘N present drivers I’ve met to date at Mother Speedway...)

As really Mr. Dismore? Is that the best Yuhs can do? As he simply signed my program as DIZ - which I guess certainly cuts down upon hand strain, eh?

Your No Fenders scribe poses for another picture with some Pagoda as a backdrop. (DOB)
Having stood for nearly two hours outside and bantering over which of my “TOP” Drivers autograph I wanted, I cannot recall who my other choices were, since drivers are broken up into blocks of six for different time sessions and as we approached decision time I made the following bold choice.

Having just been to Sweden the summer prior along with being a ‘Mega F1 Aficionado whilst seeing who was “Still on the Board,” my selection was easy and hence I chose the following grouping of: Andy Hillenburg, Cory Witheral, Ted Prappas, Shiggy Hatori, Herm Johnson and the ‘legendous “Stevie Johnson!” (Stefan Johansson)

As we approached the first victim, Andy Hillenburg was super polite, said hello to us and chatted with us briefly before saying to us, just slide I-T in front of them... As the next two drivers were too enthralled in their own private conversation to even look up or stop talking when we tried approaching them; URGH!

Attentione Drivers
Now I’m sure that these two ‘Blokes are nice Gents; BUTT! FYI: if a blind or visually impaired person brandishing a white cane approaches you please at least make some sort of verbal communication with them, since they CANNOT BLOODY SEE YOU! And hence, two years later I still harbour the sentiments that Cory Witheral & Ted Prappas were DICKS!

Funnier yet, the next seat belonging to Shiggy Hatori was empty, as Shiggy came rushing back in as we approached his spot - having needed to make a Pitstop in the Loo; Hya! But at least he was commutative to us, before moving onto ‘HJ (Herm Johnson) who also was polite to us.

And then Dave announced to Mwah, there he is! As in a one Messer Johansson as I madly wracked my brain for ‘Somme-thun intelligent to say to him... Eureka! As Stefan seemed genuinely amazed when I told him I’d seen his F2 car in Anderstorp the past summer... Oh? What were you doing there he replied. As I told him I’d gone to visit friends who’d taken me to Tico’s wonderful ‘lil museum to which Stefan mused that he’s got more of my cars in storage  for display, before I asked him what happened to the planned Race of Champions? Ah, that was a shame, but they simply didn’t have the money, and thus I was elated having just spoken to an ex-Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren Grand Prix Piloto!

Thus as we stepped outta the line, Dave said there’s Arie Luyendyk, who Dave hailed down for me who signed quickly in his professorial style - as Dave still gives me grief for telling Arie I’d heard him on The Don Kay Show, (Autosport Radio) cymbol crash please...

And as we waited outside to meet up with D.B. Cooper, Dave spotted four more willing suspects and promptly set off to gather me Roberto Guerrero, Eliseo Salazar, Jonny Unser and Gary Bettenhausen’s autographs. As “Greasy ‘Ol Salad bar” (Eliseo Salazar) was pretty funny by insisting he sign his page inside the program instead - as every time I think of Salazar I recall him passing his BOSS Robby ‘Dirtman Gourdoun’s (Gordon) stricken Hummer during the 2011 Dakar... What do you mean he’s passed me; WHOOPS!

Parnelli Jones at the control of the Marmon Wasp during pre-race festivities. (DOB)
Johnny Unser was super cool, stopping for us and chit-chatting awhile before Dave spotted Gary Bettenhausen - while later on upon meeting Daniel Baines Cooper who mockingly said out loud: there’s Dr. Jack Miller; aren’t YOU gonna get Dr. Jack’s signature? To which we decided to just leave him alone with his family before entering the mammoth memorabilia show where I scooped up another Justin ‘B-I-G UNIT Wilson autographed “Hero Card” for a momentous single ‘Smackeroo...

(DOB: Photos Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)