Damn! Why Did I Wait so long to Go Back to Portland?
A Fortnight before this year’s IndyCar race at Portland, following the rain delayed final Oval race at Gateway, Claudio’, my former Austin F1 Sherpa asked me if I wanted to go to this year’s Grand Prix of Portland? After I’d “Passed” on my last opportunity four years ago…
Thus I Never thought I’d be going back to Portland International Raceway, (PIR) especially since Not setting foot upon the property since the final Champ Car race held Wayback on June 10, 2007!
Fifteen Years Ago, I scribbled the following Yarn here upon No Fenders about my last visit to Portland International Raceway in a Post titled Riding the Rails.
And then some 10 years ago, I was still wistfully Opining for IndyCar to return to the Rose City in a Mega’ Five-part No Fenders tomes titled Ode to Portland: Can it already be 5-Years Gone?
As even then, it was somewhat “sketchy” flunderin’ my way round PIR as a single Blind person, but now, No Freakin’ Way! As I still Chucled over a Food Vendor complimenting me on my fine “Walking Stick,” my White Cane 15 years ago. Uhm, Here’s Your Sign!
Hence I’ve read that the seating capacity’s been massively reduced, now to only 30,000 Attendance and that the Grandstands are All Temporary Structures!
Leading me to Arse-sume’ that my past, yearly Seating location back in the Good ‘Ol Dazes of what will forever be known as the Budweiser/G.I. Joes 200 CART/PPG World Series West Grandstand No longer exists?
For which it seemed that my favourite IndyCar Radio Pit Reporter Ryan Marin confirmed this when He was busy calling the action Saturday morning during Practice and Qualifying, when covering Turns 4-7 by saying that it was now “Prime” RV Camping “Real Estate.”
As this was back when the IndyCar race was Portland’s largest single day event with some 65,000-plus Fans in Attendance on Father’s Day! Now making me just Shake my Head over why IndyCar cannot find a local, Title Sponsor, Seriously?
Whilst for the final three years of Chump Carz’, i.e.; Champ Car World Series circa 2005-07 I sat Solo three rows from the Top of a Grandstand just prior to the Festival Curve, where I can still remember wafting clouds of Tyre ‘N Brake Smoke rising Skywards from another Game ‘O chicken over who’ll be the last of the Great, late Brakers?
Sunday morning, rising early. Frick, I was awake an Hour before my Alarm clock was set to go off some Gory two Hours prior to leaving, Urgh! As my Chariot, a 2012 “Arrest Me” Red Ford Mustang picked me up at 8:15AM. As my “Driver” Colin & I set off for our four Hour drive to Portland after stopping for Petrol. Although we must have made really good time, since even after making one Pitstop at a Rest Area, and then a second one at a nearby Portland Sonic Fast food restaurant. I believe we parked in a PIR Parking lot that charged 20 Smackeroos’ ($20) around High Noon.
Then we Hopped on one of the School Shuttle Busses that was packed full, which must have been High School busses since my knees were only touching the seat ahead, after a very awkward instruction of how to get into my seat while Holding up the line! Before riding to the Main Gate to ultimately meet “Bonnie & Clyde,” Err Claudio’, Nelie and Kevin, who’d come down from Tacoma for the race…
Standing in line at the Box Office/Will Call, there seemed to be a very Deserate Scalper vainly trying to unload His vast amount ‘O tickets as it creeped closer to the Green Flag flying, for which there were No Takers! And as we stepped up to the window and had our tickets handed to us, after my phone rang with Nelie saying She could see us in line. As we turned to go, I Heard the somewhat muted roar of the Indy Cars driving Ontrack to begin their warm-up laps!
Showing our tickets and having my Backpack politely searched, as I’d brought only the bare essentials, albeit I Didn’t need the windbreaker I’d been told to bring along! Since it was an Uber warm day for Mwah! Being accustomed to our moderate Coast climate. I was glad I’d added a second bottle of water, as Colin remarked on the way Home that it had been 89-91 degrees in Portland! Although there was a decent breeze as I dripped sweat…
While I’m Happy that the Racetrack seems to have Relaxed some of their previous restrictions, i.e.; allowing personal coolers with Food and Water into the Track, along with portable “Camping” Seats. Since I can still recall us Sneaking in Food ‘N Beverages at the West End Grandstands Wayback’ when…
Thus I Heard the roar of 25 Snarling, Angry “Murder Hornet” Killer Wasps go Shrieking down the front Straight for the Green flag just prior to our stepping inside the confines of the racetrack! And after putting in earplugs, our Quintet trundled off to our first seating area, sitting in a Grandstand, albeit obviously I had Zero Clue where we were? Although apparently we were in the East End Grandstands? Since I was later told we were sitting behind the Pits with some sorta Chicane. Which I’d Arse-sume would be the Turns 9-11/12 Comples.
As Nelie Helped me up the stairs and to our seats, before telling me She couldn’t figure out if those were the leaders or the Back markers going by one at a time? As there seemed to be three cars already on their own.
Asking Her what colours they were? She told me that one car was completely Green, which I quickly surmised was Jimmie Johnson, since I’d read previously on Mike Silver’s The Pit Window, that was the best way to describe Johnson’s livery this weekend. So I Quicky surmised these were the Tail gunner Charlie’s, i.e.; Johnson, Dalton Kellett and Castroneves…
Then Claudio asked me if I wanted to go to another section? So we Hopped on another Banana yellow School Bus that took us around to the Front Straight. Before Claudio asked me if I wanted to go to the Handicap Seats He and Kevin Had four years ago? Standing behind Claudio with White Cane in Hand lookin’ “Purdy.” Claudio Jawed with the Gate Attendant for a good 5-7mins before He gave up and told us we could go in and sit there for a few minutes…
Naturally we were at the wrong end of the Grandstands along the Front Straight, since Claudio told me I’d have to step, Err climb over the seats! For which naturally I thought this is a Bad idea, but In for a Pound, You Know, Hya! And after I’d awkwardly navigated stepping over the first two rows, Claudio told me to move to the left and use the Chain-link Fencing to Balance!
But this must have looked precarious, since a super nice woman immediately came down from Her seat, took my Hand/Arm and Helped me up another two rows before I sat down!
Although I knew immediately we weren’t sitting in the Handicap seating, little did I know we were in the El Premio seating, wich cost $120, or Double our General Admission tickets including the ridiculous $10 Handling Fee!
Seated down relatively low was one of the Highlights of the race for Mwah! Since I could absolutely Hear the Noises of individual racing cars entire Pitstops. Beginning wit either the low speed rumble or Wog-Wog-Wogging down Pitlane on the limiter. Then next in unison, the precision whir of the four Wheel Guns!
Followed by what sounded like a two-three seconds gap of Silence whilst packing the thirsty Honda’s and Chevy’s absolutely Full of Fuel, Err Ethanol.
Then the strange electronic frequency Harmonic of engaging the steering wheel mounted Clutch to varying degrees of RPM’s, before the obligatory Screeching of freshly mounted Firestones searching for Adhesion!
As I could even discern the occasional Squealing of tyres leaving their respective Pit Stalls! Along with swearing I Heard two Indy Cars Stalling!
Learning afterwards that both Conor Daly and Christian Lundgaard Had Stalled during their respective Pitstops! I’m guessing I Heard Conor?
Whilst I could also immediately discern that the Track’s muted PA System was playing the live IndyCar Radio Feed, since I Heard Michael “Screech” Young talking animatedly over something occurring from His reporting position in the Festival Curves…