I went to the Speedway last Saturday to watch the Pole Day qualifying.
I got there about 8:30 in the morning so was able to watch most of
the morning practice session. I went to Grandstand E, outside of
Turn One, where I could see up the Front Straight into Turn Four,
all of Turn One, the South Chute and most of Turn Two.
No wonder I've never been able to get a race day seat there!
Not only was the view great, but I was in the shade and enjoyed
a pleasant breeze for the seven hours I watched the cars.
Detractors will say that the "500" has suffered in popularity
over the past 20 to 30 years. They base this on the fact that the stands
for qualifying are not nearly as full of spectators as they
were in earlier decades. I prefer to believe the fall-off in spectators
is because there are so many more outlets and ways for people
to spend their money; no longer is the Speedway the only game in
town as we have a high-quality professional football franchise,
a very good basketball team, a nice AAA baseball team, as well as
any number of other entertainment venues that didn't exist 30 to 50
years ago. Add to that the fact that satellites and computers mean we can
watch the Qualifications from our homes on our televisions
and/or our computers. So why sit in stifling heat or drenching rain?
Yet, there is nothing at all that can be as visceral as the sounds of
engines, the smell of tire rubber as thirty-three brightly colored cars rush
at speed into Turn One. Somehow, most of the drivers, most of the time
get it figured out. It's a physical and mental endurance challenge
I have always admired. Many of them are triathletes, which only seems
like a natural outgrowth of the drivers' conditioning regimens.
Many of the homes in Speedway are decorated
for the occasion, some are comparatively understated,
like the home above, others are more involved, like the
home below. Either way, it's like Christmas.
As I've mentioned before, a lot of homeowners open their yards
to out-of-town spectators, providing parking spaces,
as well as water and toilet facilities. I saw this sign last spring, as well as
decorations in another yard I hope to post within the next day or two
(I've lost the original image, so need to return to the house to take
P.S. The Lotus cars su-u-u-u-u-ck, their qualifying averages
being a full 12 to 16 mph slower than the pole-winning car,
7 to 11 mph slower than the slowest Chevy or Honda.
This is a serious concern as the cars will very quickly be overwhelmed
by the swarm of cars that will overtake them within a few laps.
I feel sorry for Jean Alessi and Simona De Silvestro,
the Team Lotus drivers. Wha' happin'?