Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Back Home Again in Indiana", Part Seven - Race Day!

Race Day 2011 dawned overcast and a bit chilly, but with the promise of sun behind the clouds.  Saturday night we had a bit of a thunderstorm, but it never rained very hard, and it seemed to clear the air a bit.  I made sure we had our sunscreen when we packed up our stuff to head over to the American Legion for a delicious, hot, all-you-can-eat breakfast.  For $7 you get eggs, bacon, sausage (except not this year as they were out), biscuits and gravy, hash browns, coffee, milk and juice.  (No cereal this year either, wonder what's up with that).  Anyway, it's a perfect start to the day and it's a lot of fun to sit and have breakfast with other race fans.

Pace cars on the parade lap
 By the time we finished our breakfast and got to the track the sun was starting to come out.  We got our tickets ripped and headed through the now-familiar tunnel on our way to the infield.

We had no idea where to pick for a vantage point (but we know more now than we did; this will take some refining but I'm sure that we'll have a better spot in future years), so we walked in the direction of the backstretch, across the golf course.  At first we'd chosen a place on one of the Family Viewing Mounds, but after noticing the sign that said "no alcoholic beverages allowed" we moved up further into Turn 2 towards the South Short Chute to a regular mound - I didn't want to have to go stand somewhere else in case I decided I wanted a beer during the race.  We were lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of really nice people, and were also near a restroom AND a food stand that sold tenderloins!

Pace lap
 At this stage of the game I am experimenting with the "sports" setting on my would be astonished to see how much I cropped these photos!  But I think I didn't do too badly, considering the sun was in my eyes AND the cars were going over a hundred miles an hour.
Pace lap, second shot

Third pace lap shot
Every time one of the kids got within spraying distance I got them with the spray sunscreen, and no one got any serious sunburn (I got a little on my nose and a couple of places on my back where I couldn't reach, but it's all tan now - PLEASE refrain from lectures in the combox about how I will probably get skin cancer.  I have pale Irish skin and prefer to look healthy in the summer, not as if I have spent the winter shut up in a box).

There's a building on the outside of the track at the exit of Turn 2 with I guess a series of lights on it, and when the yellow light is on that means there's a caution........I took to glancing over my shoulder at the light every so often and a couple of times the cars would come into 2 absolutely flying, then catch sight of the light and lift to slow down to caution speed.  It was neat.

We were MUCH closer to the cars (although still behind two rows of very substantial catchfence) this year, but the noise wasn't as bad because we weren't under cover.  It was exciting to FEEL the cars coming, then flying by almost too fast to see - fortunately the drivers I really like have easily-identifiable cars, and the numbers on the rear wing plates help a LOT).  I am mostly happy with the spot we chose, although  think we will try over at the exit of Turn 4 next time (I think we might be able to see a Jumbotron from over there).

At the last lap we were cheering J.R. Hildebrand on to an amazing victory (and I was thrilled that it didn't seem the race would end under yellow; I may be in the minority but I think there ought to be RACING to the checkered flag......but that does NOT mean I'm an advocate of Green-White-Checker!  It just means I don't like races that end under yellow), when he CRASHED and Dan Wheldon got by him for the win.  It's Wheldon's 2nd win at Indy.

Afterwards we hung around for a while to let the crowds begin to thin a bit, then I tried one more time to call one friend and text another (phone service was basically nonexistent much of the day), and after no results on either effort we packed up our things and headed back across the street to pack up the campsite and see about getting on the road - the plan was to get to Richmond, Indiana and find a hotel room.

Just as we got the car loaded I got a call from Jimmy (remember him?  He took us to the race last year) and turned out he got caught up in traffic and was already on his way home.  He invited us to crash at his place that night to save the hotel $, so I told him we'd stop and get some dinner and then come up to his house.

We watched the replay of the race on tv at Jimmy's, then the kids went to bed and he and I sat and chatted for a bit.  A most enjoyable evening!  I really love spending time with people who mostly understand me, and who don't expect me to be anything other than who I am.

Monday morning I got a shower and we got on our way home.  We stopped in Columbus to see my friend at the yarn store where she works (I bought yarn!), and also stopped at the Cabela's store near Wheeling to look at tents and other equipment (we camp in such odd places and conditions that I think we need to stay away from Wal-Mart outdoor equipment from now on; it just doesn't last).
I'm blessed to have such great friends!
One more Indy-related photo, and the next post will be all about something more usual and appealing to the general public, like how wonderful and amazing my kids are, how Eli is such a great dog, how Winston (the dog we are dogsitting this week) SHEDS, to the tune of enough to make another whole dog by now!!!!!1!!!!eleventy!!!!), or something about school, or work, or bread, or knitting.  Thanks for sticking with me while I rehash our trip and preserve it for posterity, lol!

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