Monday, May 31, 2010

An Ode to my Race Fans

The day before Memorial Day (in my family) is Race Day. It is for most of Indianapolis. But Race Day, for us, is an awesome day of laughing, racing, hanging out with family and friends, and enjoying the spectacle that is the Indy 500.

I grew up in a family of Race Fans. I knew the standard names. Foyt, Andretti, Unser, Mears, Rahal.  My 'uncle' John would come in town the day before Race Day, in his little MG convertible (I love that car)(I sigh just thinking about it), and we'd cook out in the back yard. I don't remember where Uncle John slept, but he must have spent the night. They'd pack a lunch the night before and would outfit themselves with hats, sunglasses, a newspaper, binoculars, and a thermos of iced tea. They would leave before we woke up. We wouldn't see Dad and Uncle John until later in the afternoon, but we'd get to hear 'the race' on the radio in the garage. I don't remember how or why the radio was turned on, but we would 'hang out' in the back yard on Race Day, just so we could hear the cars, Tom Carnegie, and the patter about the drivers.

At some point Dad and Uncle John stopped going to the race. Maybe it was about the time the Snake Pit got out of control? Or when the infield was redesigned? But the year Ironman and I got married, my siblings  and I purchased tickets together for the first time.

We've spent many memorable years at the track since then. There was the year Andre professed his love for Little Debbie, "The only woman who's never let me down." And the year a 'rookie' Race Fan was stunned to find out that plumber's crack was indeed a reality.  The year Patti explained rationale by way of "I wore velcro shoes as a child." And the year a Race Fan professed that The Race is "The Greatest Spectacle in Life!" The year the evil "blue poncho" (an anti-race-fan who expressed her distaste for our race excitement) was spotted in the Indianapolis airport (post-race) and we got the absurd idea she was stalking our cousin. There's the ever-present and completely adored Cousin Tommy who treks annually from the southwest just to spend the night on my parents' or brother's floor and then hikes with us to our seats to bake in the sun and listen to the roar of the engines.  The year Helmet showed up 14 hours after a wedding -- on a bicycle -- after having driven his car as close to the track as he could get and then riding his bike to get to our parking area.  The year my sister-in-law wore a goofy picture of her husband (yes, my brother) on her pregnant belly.

We've added race fans, temporarily lost them to childbirth (welcome to the world, Niece-ling) and weddings (Shannoan's brother in Hawaii of all places?!), exulted in poor footwear choices (high heels to walk from 30th street to the track, hello?! welcome to idiocy?!!), spotted what we suspected were aliens (from another planet, not the Arizona-type), and convinced ourselves of the technological worth of grapes vs gummibears as projectiles.

I LOVE the memories we've made at the track.

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