Yesterday I did something that I never really thought I would do. I went with my dad to the Indianapolis Speedway to watch the Brickyard 400! This was an awesome experience much to my surprise. I had a pre-conceived notion of the "NASCAR fan" and wasn't much interested in becoming one.
Here's a bit of background information:
A teacher at New Albany HS sent out an email asking if anyone would be interested in the two extra tickets he had for the Brickyard 400. My mom (who now works at New Albany HS as an English teacher - for anyone who didn't know) claimed them for my dad and one of his friends. It turned out that his friend could not go and I told Mom that I would be interested. I thought, "hey, why not."
We left yesterday at 9:30 a.m. The drive up was great (in my parents' new car) as I programmed the car numbers into the cool pit radios Dad borrowed from his boss. We arrived in Indy at 12:00 about a mile from the Speedway and parked, unloaded our gear, and set out on foot following the sea of Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., Jimmie Johnson t-shirts and coolers toward the track. We got to our gate, sweaty and hot, and entered. We entered the paddock area and our first sight was the cars lined up in rows on the track. How beautiful! We walked a little farther and sound our section. The seats were great! We were in Stand C which is covered (shaded) seating on the pit side, after the 4th turn, on the final stretch of track before the finish line. We got situated on our bleacher spots and chilled for a bit having some lunch and such.
The NAHS teacher, Bill, who offered the tickets arrived shortly after and parked next to us on the bleachers. (Having him there throughout the race was so nice because he explained things that were going on and told things to watch.) So, the race began at 2:00. Prior to the start, there was the singing of "America, the Beautiful" and "Star Spangled Banner" and then a parade of the drivers. Following the parade the drivers entered their cars and the famous words were spoken, "Drivers, start your engines!"
The cars had two warm-up laps around the track with the pace car leading. I was trying to take pictures from our seats when Bill told me that I was welcome to go down closer and to get pictures. So, I climbed down the bleachers to the front row of our section. Excellent view! I got there as the cars rounded the 4th turn of their second warm-up lap. The pace car moved out of the front into the pit and the green flag waved and THEN...the exhiliration of 43 mega-powered cars pushing the pedal to the metal!!! It totally was an adrenaline rush just witnessing it - the LOUD sound and the speed of the cars whizzing by! WOW!! I can't even explain how intense it was!! This was the absolute best part of the race!!
The first 15 laps consisted of the crowd intense with their cheering and booing and two wrecks due to tire blow-outs (AWESOME!). Since we were on the pit side we got to see the quick work of the pit crews plus got to see all of the cars as they paraded into the pit during yellow flags. Throughout the duration of the race there were quite a few yellow flags supposedly due to debris on the track. Also, the lead driver changed many times, so it was up in the air who the winner was to be. As we entered the final laps Jimmie Johnson seemed to take over the lead and retained to win it. The Brickyard 400 is a 160 lap race lasting about 4 1/2 hours. It is one of strategy, intensity, focus, and balls!!
As it turns out, no, I did not become a NASCAR fan, but DO have a bigger appreciation for the race. It was really, really cool! I would definitely go again and I recommend anyone who gets a chance to go.
*Pictures coming soon.