On past race days my energy level was quite high with anticipation of a breakfast tailgate, unusual sights, hot women and screaming cars. This year was different.
Leaving the hotel I had the top down on the Mazda driving to the track. It wasn’t hot but the humidity was stifling. Once parked and setting up for breakfast I stayed in the shade and didn’t feel quite right. I managed to gag down a breakfast burrito and one Bloody Mary.
How bad was it? I drank only one adult beverage and didn’t eat much. Walking to the track was very uncomfortable. Feeling so bad I didn’t even yell foul words at the regular Jesus boys at the corner of Georgetown Rd. and 16th St. as they shouted vile accusations about Catholics and Mormons into bullhorns.
But one guy sure did. It appeared that the two of them were going to get it on but didn’t, unfortunately.
Once inside the IMS I did my usual stroll about the infield where the unusual is usual. The camera was ready but for the first time there were no bimbos or beer bong chuggers on my route. Only one t-shirt caught my attention.
For the first time ever there was a strange absence of scantily clad females, teenage beer bong chuggers and odd t-shirts. But the heat and humidity was getting to me.
On my way up to the seat I actually bought bottled water. It was icy cold and made me feel much better once I sat in my seat.
The memorials were read, songs were sung, balloons were released and the F-18’s did their obligatory fly by over the straightaway. Start yer’ engines.
Feeling much better as the flag dropped the field came screaming into turn two where we sit. It’s a great view seeing the cars appear from behind the infield terrace seats heading into turn one, screaming into the short straight and passing us by heading for the backstretch where there was a spinout before the first lap was completed.
Quite a few drivers were making their moves in the backstretch where most collisions took place and we got to see them all. The surprise performance was by Tony Kinanne who started last and eventually worked his way up to the lead momentarily. He had the skill, the guts but not the car he needed to win.
About halfway through the race I felt good enough for an icy cold cocktail of vodka and Squirt®. Bad idea. The temp was announced as 96 degrees, the hottest ever for a 500 race and soon the faintness was coming on. Heading down below the stands where there was an actual breeze along with mist hoses to stand under.
A paramedic was sitting on a rescue cart and I asked him if he minded me sitting on the other side. He looked at me and suggested I go to the first aid station a few feet away. It was air conditioned and had ice water. Once inside there were four others suffering from the heat. One guy looked dead on a stretcher but he may have had too much to drink. Who knows.
When twenty laps to go was announced I made my way back to the seat. There was a nasty airborne crash on the last lap on the opposite side of the track. Dario Franchiti won. He had by far the best car that day and deserved it.
Still feeling like crap the rest of the day I skipped dinner, took a cold shower and watched the race on replay in the hotel bed. I managed to crash about 9pm.
The next day was a 180. I felt great and took the country roads home.