Sunday, May 24, 2009

Race Morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Finally Here

"I'm going to leave the house at 5 Sunday morning, so I can get in right when the gates open at 6," said my friend, Ken Severson. "The media center opens at 7, and I'll just sleep in my car for an hour beforehand."

Ken's a former auto racing PR guy and is writing for the Johnson County Daily Journal in Greenwood.

Sound advice from the voice of reason. I leave the house at 5:15, figuring the ride will take 30 minutes, and I'll have a short wait before I can get inside, "short" being the relevant word.

The Jurassic period was only slightly longer, but we had fewer dinosaurs. More drunk people puking and crawling up a hill — dude, seriously? It's 7:15, and you're puking drunk? — but fewer dinosaurs.

The line just sat still for an hour before we finally started moving. I caught up on some podcasts before we started creeping along. Caught up on 3 hours worth of podcasts.

Unfortunately, I forgot my cell phone, so I couldn't find out what was going on, my laptop battery was running low since I didn't recharge last night, and we would occasionally move just enough to keep me from catching a few winks while Ken was tucked safely away in the infield parking, waiting for the media center to open.

I finally got here after 9:00, bump into Margaret from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway PR department, who tells me I should have come in off 25th Street. That's where all the media comes in.

I find my friend Ken, and give him an appropriately hard time.

"You didn't tell me there was a media entrance, you bastard."

"What are you talking about? I just sat out on 16th Street for 3 hours. I just got here 5 minutes ago."

"Oh," I said, deflated. "Apparently there's a media entrance."

"Huh. Oh well, we'll get it next year."

I look around the Media Center, and see a few of my fellow bloggers here. I meet Jeff Ianucci of MyNameIsIRL.com and William Zahren of Pressdog.com.

It's 9:54, and the stands are pretty empty right now, although the infield is filled with tailgaters. People are starting to straggle in, ready to sit through a 3-hour ass-numbing marathon before the race actually begins. The marching bands are doing their thing along the front straightaway, and Purdue University's world's biggest bass drum made an appearance. And I'm right in front of Justin Wilson and Tomas Scheckter's pits. Since I had a chance to actually interview these two (Wilson's interview is here, Scheckter's is here), they're my emotional favorites to win.

It's 3 hours before the flag drops, 6 hours before the traditional milk chug, and I'm going to wander the hospitality tents with Ken. Even though his pre-race directions leave something to be desired, the guy still knows where all the action is.

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