A Day at the Indy 500: 2002


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Sunday, May 26, 2002: There comes a time in every young Hoosier's life when they must experience a day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the running of the Indy 500. Join us as we share Jill's first race day.

First, we drove to downtown Indianapolis, where we boarded a shuttle bus to Georgetown and 16th Street, the southeast corner of the Speedway. From there, we made the long walk to Gate 7, where we entered. The street was littered with debris from the previous night's partying, and there were t-shirt, food and other types of vendors along the route.

We arrived at our seats in the second row behind the pits, approximately 2/3 of the way up the main stretch. We brought hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, sodas, food, cash, earplugs, seat cushions and a souvenir program. We were set!
Here's the view from our seats looking south toward the start/finish line.
As we waited for the race to begin, there was plenty to watch. Our seats afforded us a great view of a lot of behind-the-scenes action. Here, while the Purdue Marching Band parades around the course, a driver posed with a fan or someone's trophy wife.

The highlight of the Purdue Marching Band's performance is the arrival of the huge Purdue drum, so large it has to be toted around on a truck.

Racing is a high-tech sport. Each pit area featured a command center with radios, televisions and computers, carefully shielded from the sun.

The sky portion of the day's festivities started with a skydiving demonstration. Here, green and purple smoke marks the location of skydiver canopies twirling toward the ground.

Next, our Grand Marshall John Corbett drives by. What poor timing on Debbie's part, as she was standing in line to pick up our pre-ordered box lunches. Tom was good enough to snap this photo for her.

The crowd applauded endlessly as a long line of servicemen and women from all branches of the Armed Forces drove by in Corvettes, one at a time.

Back to the sky, a B2 Stealth bomber flew overhead. No matter how often you see them, they still don't look real.

The festivities include releasing a large group of balloons, which is a pretty sight. Each year has a color theme, with tickets, banners, balloons and a matching logo. This year was pink and purple.

Of course, it's not a sporting event without a blimp nearby. There were several hovering at this year's event, along with planes carrying banners.

And we're off! As you can see, the cars fly by. Part of the ABC Sports crew is visible on the left.

Time has passed and here were some more cars flying by. The gentleman in front of us was starting to show painful signs of sunburn.

Is it Miller Time? Perhaps once this spoiler gets attached to the Miller Lite car. I wish I knew more of the story behind this, but I don't.

The Miller Lite car was off again, and the case of sunburn in front of us had become quite serious.

Hey, it's David Letterman! This guy is tall. He was a car owner, so he was at the track in the pits with his team, a few pits down from our seats. We caught a photo of him as he walked by.

Here's a shot of a typical race fan. Dude -- couldn't you have found another place to store that newspaper?

Our girl was getting tired, having contracted a cold the day before, so we headed out before the end of the race, beating the crowds to the shuttle bus and pausing only to admire the trophy pavilion/winner's circle from the back.

In Indianapolis, the race is broadcast locally in the evening after the race ends, so we went home and enjoyed the exciting conclusion in the air-conditioned and shaded comfort of our home. By the way, the winner was Helio Castroneves.


Indy 500: [2002] [2003] [2005] [2008]

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