The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 was contested on May 27, 2018 and dating back to May 30, 1959, it was my 60th straight race. This year’s event was witnessed by approximately 300,000 people (The Speedway never releases attendance figures). By contrast, the attendance for the 1959 Indianapolis 500, my first race, was approximately 180,000.
Every Indianapolis 500 is special, but what made my 60th 500 mile race so special was that my friends and family put together a special video to honor my 60 years of attending the race. Many of them recorded their own personal videos of congratulations and one person, who wishes to remain anonymous, recorded various race drivers including the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Doug Boles offering his congratulations too. I want to thank all of them for taking their time to honor me that morning of the race.
Speaking of time, it has been said that we only have a limited amount time on earth and the greatest gift a person can give to another person is the gift of their time. With that said, I want to thank everyone who gave their precious time to honor me that day. It was a very humbling experience to receive such a precious gift. I admit to shedding more than a few tears that morning.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As a child, on every Memorial Day my family listened to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio. I remember listening to Sid Collins, the chief radio announcer for the Speedways world wide radio network, saying those famous words that are still used today, “Stay tuned for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” I dreamed of some day attending the Indianapolis 500 mile race. We moved to Indianapolis in the fall of 1958 and my dream came true in 1959.
My family has had a tradition of attending the Indianapolis 500 for the past sixty years. I know there are many other families with the same tradition and I applaud those families for doing so. We even have our own secret route that we take on the morning of to avoid most of the race day traffic. We usually arrive when the gates open and drive to our parking lot without much hassle. We remain there tailgating until about an hour before the start of the race. After the race we usually have a cook out and discuss the race until it is time to leave for home.
I apologize for not writing this article sooner. My wife and I have been busy attending a lot of non racing events such as ball games, birthdays, graduations, graduation parties and other family functions that occur at this time of year. I also needed time to reflect on what happened on race day, attending the Victory Banquet and spending time with our family the week after the race.
I have not discussed the contrasts between my first 500 mile race and this year’s 500 mile race. We all know that there has been a tremendous amount changes that have taken place at the Speedway and the 500 mile race. I am planning a future article discussing some of those changes.
Until I receive that final checkered flag and the good lord willing, I will be attending many more Indianapolis 500’s. In the mean time “Stay tuned for the greatest spectacle in racing.”