Sunday, September 13, 2015

Indianapolis, Indiana - a.k.a. Indy

As I said in the last blog posting, it was a nice uneventful drive through the countryside’s of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana getting to Indianapolis. It took us about five hours to make this drive. Like most large metropolitan areas we avoided Chicago, Illinois. It is just too complicated to drive this motorhome and Jeep tow car in big cities. Sorry Chicago!

Indianapolis has a freeway loop around the city that allows you to save a lot of time if you have to go cross-town. It is kind of like the 215 loop in Las Vegas. Our RV Park was just off the loop in the southwest side of town. It was easy to find our RV Park once we understood the mapping.

The only reason we came and stayed in Indianapolis was to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and take the tour that is offered. It turned out that a big motocross (motorcycles) race was being held at the track and the tours were not available for five days. So, we went to Indy to stay a couple days and ended up staying a week until the tour opened after the motorcycles went home. Fortunately it was worth it!

These days, the Indy 500 is run on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in late May. I have been a fan of the Indy 500 since the late 1950s. Sometime in 1959 or 60 the accidents in the first turn marred the start of the race. Also the close and heartbreaking finishes are part of this sport. The science of engineering allows today’s top speeds to be around 230 MPH. Frighteningly fast, but for me, the cars look more under control today than they did in the 1960s and 70s.

We went to the race track early (9 AM) to catch a tour. The weather was a beautiful sunny day with very low humidity, which made for a nice ride in the tour bus with our closeness to other people.

Upon arrival we were told the “bad news”.  The race track itself was closed. The tour usually takes you for a lap around the 2-1/2 mile track and then stops at the start-finish line for pictures. The “good news” was - today the track was closed because six of top Indy Car drivers were using the track to test racing tires for the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. It was a SPECIAL day!

This was going to be exciting, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The tour starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum which is in the infield portion of the race track. The entrance to this area is a well-marked turn off on a main city street to a tunnel that takes you under the racetrack itself. Signs point you to the museum. Once the tour bus was loaded it moved us around the infield pointing out various areas such as Gasoline Alley where all the racing crews work on mechanic, etc.

Start-Finish Line

Start-Finish From Scorers Chair
The major stop on the tour was at The Pagoda, a four or five story building that houses the media and scoring facility during the race. It also houses some prime seating like corporate boxes. On the top floor of The Pagoda we had excellent views to the drivers running the laps to test the tires. We were told their speeds were in the 225-230 MPH range on this day.

It was hard to take some still photos of the race cars. At these speeds you almost have to be lucky to catch them in a decent picture. They are gone about the time you push the shutter button!
Front Straight Into Turn One

Turn Four Into Front Straight

The media area was interesting. About 200 chairs set at low tables to support the media that cover the race. The interview room was set aside for private media interviews. There were about 40 chairs in this private room in front of a raised podium.

We were in a private corporate suite in The Pagoda that was very close to the start-finish line. A great view of the home straight. The race cars flash by at full power.

The bus portion of the tour took approximately an hour and a half before we were reloaded and dropped off in front of the museum. The $25 ticket for the tour gave us entry to the museum where there are many of the races winning cars. The car from the first race in 1909 was there along with about 40 other winning cars.
The Borg-Warner Trophy

Of course there is a large gift shop where you can buy all kinds of memorabilia. The Indy car drivers are like NASCAR driver. They have a special “cult status” among their fans.

Before our day at Indy ended we got out to the grassy knoll that comes out of turn one and goes into turn. We tried taking some pictures. Again, it was very difficult to catch them flashing by.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days, we will get back to Indy to see this race live. Watching and hearing the noise from one car going by is loud and exciting. Watching 33 of them going by at the start of this race has to be exhilarating. Especially in turn one!

So much from Indianapolis. Tomorrow we will move a couple hundred miles further east to the Columbus, Ohio area. We have a reservation at the Lancaster, Ohio Camp Ground, in the country 30 miles south of Columbus.

Until next time thanks for following the BooniePeople.

Regards from Dave and Janet.

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