A Day at the Indy 500: 2008


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

Sunday, May 25, 2008: Debbie and her cousin Laura headed downtown around 8:00 AM to catch an IndyGo bus to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
We walked with the crowd down Georgetown Road, past the street evangelists and official merchandise.
We got to the track early enough to cross on the track itself, stopping for Laura to pose for her first Speedway portrait.
Seconds after our arrival, the giant Purdue drum went past, so we got to see it up close.
We also got to take in the spectacle of the front stretch as we took our sweet time crossing.
On the inside of the track, we encountered a group of well-credentialed people waiting in line for their chance to get photographed in front of the parked pace car. This area was roped off to the common folk, but that didn't stop us from trying to photograph the pace car too.
Just a few feet to the right, the assistant pace cars lined up.
Here's a shot of the garage area. Not shown: the chain link fence separating us from this area.
The red carpet celebrity interviews were taking place as we arrived. Many of the celebrities were past participants of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and the celebrity interview airing on the Jumbotron was no exception: Kristi Yamaguchi. In a freak coincidence, the Indy 500 is also aired by ABC.
It's a good thing the interviews are aired, because getting a good vantage point is a little difficult.
The views from the pagoda, directly overhead, were probably pretty good. Here, what appear to be a couple of well-dressed wives look on.
We headed to our seats at the north end of the Tower Terrace in section 77. This is the area underneath with lots of restrooms, kiosks, and food stands.
After we dropped off our cooler at our seats , we took a tour of the pits. Our little friend, Orchy, joined us too.
Here are some highlights of our tour: Sarah Fisher's pit ...
... and Bruno Junqueira's ...
... and Marty Roth's ...
... and Alex Lloyd's. The Wii Fit car was quite distinctive and we got to see it up close when it came crashing along the wall in front of our seats later on in the day.
At the south end of Tower Terrace, we found what appeared to be the remnants of a Purdue marching band explosion. Oh, the humanity!
Up on the podium, Slash was posin' with some folks ...
... and schmoozin' with some folks.
As a promo for the MotoGP event coming up in September, Nicky Hayden rode his motorcycle on the track at unbelievable speeds. We were told that he was riding this stretch on one wheel, but who could tell when he was just a blur flying by?
The parade of celebrities took to the track, and here's Kristi Yamaguchi again.
Back in fun-loving section 77, two happy face inflatable balls were making their way among the rows, including ours -- Row V.
Section 76 was no slouch either, featuring a group of people who are so proud of their section that they are printed on their black, heat-absorbing t-shirts. Either the people or the shirts disappeared later in the day as the temperature went up.
A parade of servicemen and servicewomen passed by to cheers from the audience.
Julianne Hough promoted her new CD by singing the National Anthem.
The military jet flyover happened as the song ended.
These were later identified by people who have a clue as F-18 Hornets and F-16 Falcons.
Hometown favorite Jim Nabors got big cheers when he started to sing "Back Home Again in Indiana."
It's always a treat to hear the opening command of the race include the word "Ladies," and this year there were three female drivers.
Next, the Balloon Extravaganza, which apparently caught the tour helicopter by surprise, as it moved up and out of the way quickly.
Finally, it was time for the pace car to lead the field away from the starting line, ...
... and a few laps later, we were on our feet for the flying start.
The race turned out to be a series of yellow flags, so we got to see the pace car quite a bit.
Sometimes the carnage was on the straightaway to our left (this was Marty Roth), ...
... and sometimes it was spewing out of the fourth turn to our right. Here, one of the track's sweeper trucks cleans up a sandy substance spread to soak up the oil leaks.
During a rare stretch of racing under the green flag, Drunk Girl and her equally drunken husband showed their random appreciation for whatever awoke them from their passed-out stupor. We finally chose to enjoy the rest of the race from the relatively unpopulated and much more sober Row Q.
Here was the gruesome replay of Tony Kanaan's car taking out Sarah Fisher's car.
Sitting right in front of the entrance to the pits, we got to see cars hauled into Pit Lane surrounded by big yellow liners to prevent oil spills.
Here's our final shot of the race -- former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier flying by.
After the race, we headed back past the pits, where we got to see drivers Milka Duno (on the right), ...
... and Oriol Servia.
Race winner Scott Dixon took his traditional lap in the pace car, ...
... then joined his team to kiss the yard of bricks in front of a sea of photographers.
At the south end of Tower Terrace, we climbed up to find ourselves a good vantage point for the award ceremony and glanced back at the quickly emptying stands and the piles of garbage left behind.
Here's Scott Dixon, his car, his wife, the Borg-Warner trophy, and a bunch of other folks on the award stand, which was raised for this photo opportunity.
Later, it was back on the ground again for a final chug of milk.
Kiwi fans waited outside the barrier holding the New Zealand flag in Scott Dixon's honor, ...
... while fans across the track held up the flag of the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team.
Local and New Zealand news crews couldn't get enough of one particularly enthusiastic and inebriated fan, who led two compatriots in a performance of the traditional Maori haka.
Meanwhile, a more civilized news performance was taking place in the walkway overhead.
Laura's fiance Shawn is a photographer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we finally had a chance to meet up with him late in the day. While he shows us his best shun-the-paparazzi pose (he was actually on his way to come up to see us in the stands), the gentleman in the bottom of this photo was doing his best to both hold his beer AND remain standing, but success seemed to elude him.
Shawn was able to join us for a few minutes, so the photographer became the photographee for one shot.
Scott Dixon made his way past the crowd and up a level, accompanied by his wife and IMS head of security Charles Burns, who famously redirected Danica Patrick during a tense moment in the pits earlier in the day (in the grey suit). He tossed caps to the adoring crowd.
We took our time leaving the Speedway because we knew there would be a long line for the shuttle bus, so we stopped for another race day portrait of Laura.
Back out on Georgetown Road, we treated ourselves to gyros while sitting on the ground and watching the traffic snake by slowly.
We had a 45-minute wait in line for the shuttle which was rewarded by a little last minute excitement involving the police and the public. There's no need to get into specifics.
Our last race-related shot was this pace car being valet parked by the Conrad Hotel staff, taken as we walked from the shuttle stop to the parking garage. We drove home and then settled down to revisit the race all over again by watching the broadcast on Indianapolis television at 8:00 PM. Our day of racing ended at midnight when the broadcast ended.

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

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