It's a badge of honor among the journalists covering the Indianapolis 500 to see who showed up early, and who's the slog who showed up late. Who's tough enough to slog it out without dropping? Who can show up so many hours before the actual start of the race, and still be alert enough to be doing post-race wrap-up by 5:00?
"What time did you get here?" is usually the first or second thing we say. It's a competition between everyone in the Media Center.
"6:00. It was just turning light out."
"I got here at 5:30. Got a great shot of the Pagoda in the dark."
"Jeez, I at least slept in the car."
"I grabbed a quick nap at my desk."
The TV crews show up because they start their morning shows, so they can give traffic reports, and reach the people who are awake at 6:00 on a Sunday morning. The radio guys are here, because they're doing traffic, and because this is what they've always done. The newspaper reporters aren't here yet. And the PR staff has been here since at least 4:00 in the morning.
I'm here because I hate traffic any day of the week, and Race Day traffic is some of the worst I will encounter all year.
Not this year. I think I got the hang of it. After four years of waiting in line at the main gate, trying not to run over drunk pedestrians, and parking far, far away from my "office," I think I got it figured out.
I left at 4:30 in the morning, thinking I could beat some of the traffic and not wait in line so long. I ended up hitting the Credential Gate by 5:20, and it was smooth sailing in. I was able to park in the media section of the infield lot (finally!), and walked a few hundred yards to the Media Center.
Everything is quiet right now, but the buzz is starting to build. There's some guy in front of me (I think he works for the Speedway) playing video games on his computer. A French guy is standing near my desk, talking to someone at home, as the skies lighten outside. James Black from the 16th and Georgetown racing blog showed up a little while ago, and some of the national sports guys are starting to show up.
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