Jump to content

* * * * * 1 votes

Fan in the Stands

  • Please log in to reply
67 replies to this topic

#51 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 16 March 2010 - 00:40

Over the past year or so I have noticed that the professionals have picked up what I have so casually discarded.
That is to say, the adventures of the "Three Amigos" are now serialised in a column available via the Telegraph.
Not only that...They actually have access to things.

2010 Edition 1 is ready for consumption.

Please read it



Edited by jonpollak, 18 March 2010 - 10:27.


#52 Buttoneer

  • Admin

  • 19,094 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 18 March 2010 - 14:59

Dodgins has covered all of these in his feature columns to a greater or lesser extent. I was amazed, looking through the list of incidents, how many of the paragraphs started with "Tony..." :lol:

#53 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 27 May 2013 - 17:26

Wild Things Run Fast
Jp takes the long route to view the 2013 Indy 500

After a whirlwind tour here in the embattled Middle East..
My 6 am wake-up call this morning is the adhān (call to prayer) bellowing out of the İngilizce Türkçe Sözlükten Çeviri.

Start the Clock !!!
Jp's 'cross the globe odyssey' begins NOW.. :drunk:

Our tour coordinator has just bundled me into the van and departure from Ataturk Istanbul airport is in 2 hrs.
I change at Heathrow for Chicago then a short flight to Cinci where I rent pick up a cheap and cheerful rental and drive up I-74 to a northside hotel in Indy.
First stop..Attempt to get to The Burger Bash by 7pm Friday
Then a few hours sleep before watching Monaco qualy and a trip to the Speedway to say hello to a friend, pick up my scanner, watch the Champions League final and maybe even the Nationwide race. But it's gonna be an early night as we will leave for the track at daybreak (I HATE traffic..and so do my friends coming with)

I'll exchange the 72 virgins in Jannah and eternal blah blah blah for my own personal paradise.

21 hours later…
Made it..

Enjoyable afternoon at the track today.
Got to see friends and check out the tourbus to end all tourbuses
Something called a Newell..What a Jewel !
Makes our mode of transport look like the projects in LeFrak City.
The paint has just dried on the pit stalls...my trousers have some telltale residue.
Crews are just making last minute adjustments to the fuel rigs
There appears to be an issue with Powers rig though... So look to see if that's an issue tomorrow.
Found a place to watch the GP tomorrow morning too ....If I get there in time.

Race Day:

Am I the only one who didn't want to see TK win?

Yes Mr Minion, I believe you are.

Sorry for not posting sooner but... (insert lame 'having too much fun to waste time on Autosport' excuse here)
What a great day it was here at the Speedway.
The night before I was privileged to get to chat to one of my all time favorite Indy500 drivers.
Mr.Johnny Rutherford related some funny Pace Car stories and told me how NO ONE was as proficient at the job as James Garner.

After convincing the dullard of a yellow shirt, who stood blocking the entrance to his parking lot, that the people who need to park there should be able to turn right off 16th street I was happy to receive the plaudits from the pissed-off race goers in the car park queue.. One even shoved a beer in my hand (at 7:30 am) "I'll take you up on that upon our departure" I said. His is the spirit and joie de vivre of the 300,000 rabid fans that make the sojourn to this event every year. These are..My People.

Straight to 16th&Georgetown to soak up the early atmosphere. GodWhackers, scalpers,hawkers and gawkers all congregate to do just as I do...'check it out'.
Being 'early doors' I had no issues with the revised search policy and got inside in about 45 seconds...others I hear were not as lucky.
Keith Duncan and I went up to Rossco's fabulous TOWER SWEET only to find it empty, barring the attendant, so I filled up on brekkie before heading down to the pits and paddock for a snoop.

One's access to restricted areas are determined by 2 things here.
1) What credential you have
2) How good you are at creating a diversion towards the aforementioned yellowshirts..like the evergreen "OOHH LOOK, SHINY TOY"
I usually use the latter but had the right pass today.

As soon as I got to the paddock I saw the hardest working schmooze woman in racing doing her thing.
Talking a great race... I don't know how she does it but if self-promotion and stick-at-it-tude was rewarded she would be in a Penske seat. But it isn't.
Hung out with my benefactors for a bit when Gordon Kirby came up for a chinwag..not with me mind you, although he did recognise me from back in the days of yore, but with the person of interest smiling in the background."What's the deal" Kirby asked. "For some reason..We are ****" was Hull's reply. Gordon has more anecdotes and info about racing than I've had hot dinners.

Walking back to the transporters I eavesdropped on a local TV interview where the reporter asked a driver...
"What's your biggest fear around here now that you've gotten the worst out of the way"
"Not getting a good result" was the answer he offered.
Oh dear...It seems there are drivers who just have bad Indy JuJu..

Speaking of TV interviewers...Who's the Hottest Girl at the track 24/7?
Yeah she is...Charming, sweet and so willing to chat to anyone about anything.
I reminded her of our night together at a club years ago and saw a flicker in her eye ...so I left the recollections when her producer came over to talk about in-race features.

I ambled to the pits to see the cars roll out and noticed how some of the cars use natty rims on their rolling tyres.
That Bia sure is a badass as she dispassionately turned down a marriage proposal offered on the grid in front of 300 thousand people.
Timing is everything ..The guy's an idiot.

The Ganassi guys seemed to be working to find a solution right up to the last minute.
Guess it wasn't found...Oh well.

I was looking at Sato's car and wondering out loud when a camera crew from GaoraTV asked for an interview with me.
Why I will never know but in my best Japanese I think I said "May I order the oven broiled tractor please?"
Or at least that's what the producer lady reckoned I'd said.

Just as race time beckoned I hightailed it back upstairs for a Splash and Go before the off.
Talk about a well thought out solution for hard drinking race fans... This place has it all.

The race was enthralling. I cannot stress how important it is for anyone calling themselves a race fan to attend this event.
It DOES NOT transfer to TV in anyway shape or form like it does when you are a part of it.

At the end of it, when the place erupted for TK, I went down to return my scanner ..only to find a gate open behind the Pagoda entrance.
Grabbing the chance with both hands I was heartened to see Yellowshirts and Indiana State Police accosting some poor idiot trying to jump the fence.
With diversion in place I sashayed into the winners circle and got right next to the celebrations.
I shouted out "Você vai ficar bêbado hoje à noite"
He looked over and I snapped this.

I wonder if he's woken up with a hangover


Edited by jonpollak, 04 January 2016 - 22:35.

#54 Frank Grimes

Frank Grimes
  • Member

  • 321 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 28 May 2013 - 00:47

Fantastic story - Indy is on my bucket list for sure. I've been to the first two USGPs in Indy but I doubt they could hold a candle to the real event.

#55 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 28 May 2013 - 01:29

Thanks Frank.
It really is an indescribable experience.
No matter how hard I try.

#56 cheesy poofs

cheesy poofs
  • Member

  • 3,240 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 29 May 2013 - 14:52

Great piece Monsieur jp.

Loved Indy when I was there. Although I haven't been there since the '93 & '94 races, I have fond memories of the place and the races I saw there.


  • Member

  • 8,097 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 01 June 2013 - 21:48

Fantastic story - Indy is on my bucket list for sure. I've been to the first two USGPs in Indy but I doubt they could hold a candle to the real event.

Went in 2004. Nothing out of this world. I liked Monza 100x more.

#58 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 04 June 2013 - 17:57

Went in 2004. Nothing out of this world. I liked Monza 100x more.

Obviously you had chosen to attend during the mind numbing IRL portion of this event.
Hence your disenchantment.

#59 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 28 February 2015 - 17:43

Jp gets his hot-diggity-gigitty-boogity on..Y'all.


I had a girlfriend in College named Diane Gudmunsted. A free spirited lass from Sveltstad Norway.
She had an AMC Pacer and the back deck (boot) was kitted out with throw rugs and pillows and exotics oils.
A veritable tantric knocking shop, as long as you were prostrate...I STILL have that welt on the top of my head from the big back window.
She taught me everything I know.
That Pacer went up in flames at the cast party for LAVC Theatre Arts production of Cabaret after my assistant, Lacy Overall, threw her highball into the front seat along with a lit Sherman cigarette. The words she murmured were something to the effect of... 'He gave her class / she gave him sex.'
A few years later I went to Riverside Raceway to see my first, and to this date only, NASCAR race.. The Budweiser 400
I got a call from Diane's father asking me if I was driving her to the race...
I said "What?..Diane? going to the race?..First I had heard of it."
Oh Yes..She's the trophy girl, has been for 3 years.
And so it was, on the occasion of RCR's first ever victory Diane stood proud in her flimsy blue wraparound skirt and flowing Norse mane.
Now the good news...(and keep it under your hat)
Jp has been surreptitiously recruited by the GeneralRegionalOperationsTeam or GROT to keep an eye on the proceedings,the fortunes of RCR and, a few certain persons of interest. So then, Je Suis your man on the ground at Daytona. That's right folks..Stand by for another thrilling episode of Jp's Trackside Reports ©
Yee Haa baby..


Fast forward one week..

Ok so... The other day I was in Miami and had to spend $14.34 for a beer.
What a frickin' waste of space that town has become.
It used to be a super destination.. Well, not anymore.. it's all posers and over priced bull$hit.

I went to the credentials office this morning and was ushered through faster than any other series I have ever..BOOM Hot pass for Jp.

Once I got in the first thing I saw was.... a Mclaren
I was confused.

Then the second thing I saw was.... Am I in some bizarre parallel universe?

Jeff Gordon was in the house, early doors, and has a following as big as Jr.
Poor guy is gonna HATE the farewell tour.
To his credit he went straight to the car and asked for engine changes

Ya know, I Love these Krashlowski fans..To a man they are eriudite and peacefully thoughtful just like BK's muse Eleanor Roosevelt...Look at the love beaming in through the 'fan window'

Stopped by at the Champs pit . He was in a jovial and courteous mood.
Then he saw the newest member of the $hithead club and he went all ...meh.

Noticed that the press corp is getting younger. These kids are either unpaid interns or on work experience for class credit.

All of a sudden I saw someone I knew..!!! I asked this hipster guy standing next to us to snap a pic so I could send it to a mutual friend but he was more interested in taking pictures of himself than focus on us. I finally got a security guard to take the shot.

Soon enough it was Time for the NationBuschFinity race and the drivers made their way to the grid.

I hung with Brendan as he was born in the same hospital as me Cedars of Lebanon.
Meanwhile BK was gittin' giggy wit it

EVREYONE in his stall turned when a whacko came into the pits...

But he's a regular and has a hot pass for life or something like that.

Soon the race started and I ran into an old friend...

She seemed perturbed and unhappy but it may have just been my proximity to her that soured the moment.

Brenden thought his tyres were a bit ...under performing

The action suddenly became furious .
As soon as I snapped THIS PIC


Traffic out was a breeze...we will see what happens tomorrow...

RACE DAY here in Daytona.
It's packed and hot and ATT cell service is like an ice cream cone in hell.
But hey..I'm already having a good 'ol time.

EDIT: Yes, I am tuning in. Fingers crossed for no injuries.

That's what I thought this morning as the throngs invaded the pitlane..
Man oh man, This kind of human schlamozzle would send the F1 Jizzeratti into a tailspin


JP can you get a closeup of Kyle's aircast?

He and Sam send you regards Deluxx.


I'm one year into my last rethink. One thing had led to another and I somehow ended up editing a real life magazine about fish feed.

I is hungry too..
Time for a look at the hospitality lunch menu..


I think this race has been great. It has been "pure".
I followed the 48 for the whole race and damn it has been exciting for me.

Here's an autograph for ya RT

Now? Now we cry.

I know I'll do, if Logano wins. Can't stand the kid.

Ha..That's YOUR hatewagon departing the station then.
$hithead was awesome today...glad I joined the club.(see one of my previous posts for hysterical link)


Edit: And in Gordon's final 500, he gets wrecked by the 3. Now that's funny.

Edit: Irony is the best racing resolution.

Obsevation 1
Ok so the sound of the pack as they roar past is a prerequisite for any of you so called race fans to experience.

Observation 2
The end of the race, with 3 wide lap after lap, was worth all my effort to get here..
I scanned 'your favorites' on the fanvision radio during that section and heard mostly silence.

Observation 3
Hendrick have it together...Not only are there free massages in the garage anytime the car is out...
The crew chief does the child minding!!!!

I hear she's a handful.

My little side project turned out well
See about 1:10-1:33 in.

No Amber Lounge for this victory...


What a fun weekend


Edited by jonpollak, 03 May 2018 - 18:50.


#60 paulb

  • Member

  • 7,225 posts
  • Joined: June 00

Posted 28 February 2015 - 22:55

I can't believe this is the first time I saw this thread.  Remarkable stuff.  :up:

#61 stewie

  • Member

  • 3,064 posts
  • Joined: October 11

Posted 02 March 2015 - 15:15

Cracking thread here, my fellow lampie. Never seen it before!

Did chuckle at your 2004 post where you said you hope they never ruin the engine noise.....  :rotfl:

#62 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 02 March 2015 - 16:38

Well thanks stewie... :D

Your observation is VERY ironic isn't it.


I must re-up some of those earlier snaps as those photo sharing sites I used went belly up pretty quickly.


EDIT: done... See how long these ones last⚠️

Edited by jonpollak, 02 March 2015 - 22:47.

#63 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 19 September 2015 - 12:38

A story for Sophie B...


In 2003 I was gifted a job as a Production Coordinator for the Autosport Awards show at the Albert Hall.

Having worked the previous 2 years at the Albert Hall for these shows I observed that the NEC Arena was a rather soulless and antiseptic venue  after the stints at the Albert.

    But then this trend is in keeping with most F1 venues these days isn't it...?

The evening started OK but went downhill rather quickly.

I was originally tasked with looking after the sweet and gentle Beverly Turner
Poor Bev was given no instructions at all before she was unleashed onstage with a totally new script owing to the many no-shows. She then had to wait  for the TelePrompter to be changed before each vignette. I did feel sorry for her but Martin Brundle kept her spirits up with tales of the hilarity backstage This comedy consisted of the replacement artists for the said no-shows, namely The Cheeky Girls
They were not as entertaining as the reaction to them was by the hounding press pack.

I then had an idea that was a little stroke of genius...Let's get Ron in a photo op with these little hotties !!

So I asked him if he would mind doing a photo call and he sheepishly said "I don't have a problem with that..Sure".

So we chatted idly until our chance came. Charlie Whiting was stood there, looking rather like a schoolmaster who was not too pleased by these events  but after seeing the hilarity of my placements IE: Ron Dennis  having his press call standing next to them and the cat calls of the attending media.,Mr Whiting's mood lightened dramatically.


Back on stage...
Eddie Jordan's band contained one Keith Prior, a friend of mine from THE CURE tours I did...but back then he was the drum tech not the LEAD drummer?.....So now Keith carries Eddie 'tempo issues' Jordan, on a platter, musically speaking of course

I was a bit nonplussed over the events on stage and as it turned out I saw a disgruntled production assistant announcing that there were 'thousands of BernieAwards®' in the open Fed-Ex truck outside !!

Great Door Stops these things make !!

After that I took the opportunity to have a few words with Christiano De Matta....He was very nice and told me a few CART Party stories...He too thought the fuss over the Transylvanians a bit much and as we agreed that Brazilian girls tend to make the rest pale into insignificance, he said Boa Noite and retired
I took this as a cue myself, as the show was now up to an hour overtime I thought...Better head to the bar before last call....I was not alone in those thoughts.
Upon my arrival I found most of the Autosport staff, a few familiar faces (and a famous jaw line) knocking 'em back  I dove into the fray and before I knew it ...I too was well oiled..At one point the discussion turned to height (Justin Wilson etc) and it was suggested I attempt to squeeze in the car sitting in the entrance to the ballroom
 I removed the steering wheel..(I know how to do this now) and In I jumped  I fit in fine..No Problems....However I ruined the retaining clip while attempting to re attach the steering wheel....yet AGAIN!! *

I awoke the next morning remembering nothing....Good thing I took pictures....
Now, if I can only get them in focus next time.....



#64 JasWil

  • New Member

  • 3 posts
  • Joined: November 15

Posted 11 November 2015 - 11:14

Ah memories! Loved that bar in Montmello, we waited there for the queue for the train to die down too.
Great Patisserie in the village too - 2 crossiants and eight small cans of beer for the price of one cup of Skippy P!ss at the circuit.

#65 Peat

  • Member

  • 4,733 posts
  • Joined: November 09

Posted 25 November 2015 - 21:21

How have i only just found this thread?

Epic stuff jp. The Indy 2013 reminiscences are great. 

#66 ericok

  • Member

  • 54 posts
  • Joined: February 12

Posted 02 August 2017 - 13:22

I'm not a blogger but I did do a photo blog about strange and interesting stuff I've seen at formula one races over the years:



#67 jonpollak

  • Member

  • 29,087 posts
  • Joined: March 00

Posted 03 August 2017 - 16:33

Wonderful stuff ericok... Your impressions are what this thread is all about.

#68 Victor_RO

  • RC Forum Host

  • 5,390 posts
  • Joined: March 09

Posted 07 June 2018 - 05:55

Upon request I'm reposting this here from the Indy 500 thread.

So... here goes my recap. Brace yourselves, wall of text incoming. :)) As a companion, here's my photo/video album from my phone: https://photos.app.g...I7WWstpd9kqLC63 It's taken me a while to write this.
Having watched for a decent amount of years beforehand, and having seen some CART on Eurosport in the mid-'90s, I knew I would have to see American open-wheelers in action, and Indy seemed the obvious spot to see them. But it was only since I caught the travel bug a couple of years ago that I actually started seriously entertaining the thought, and when the renderings of the 2018 aero kit were released last summer, I looked at my time and budget and immediately said... hang on, I can do this trip. So I did. 
Wrangled a race ticket as soon as the online ticket office opened in November, as well as establishing contact here with the people I would end up meeting in real life during race week. Hotel, rental car and plane tickets soon followed, most of the trip was booked by the start of 2018. After looking for and listening to advice all over the place, all I needed to do was actually follow through with the trip.
Lufthansa's business class offering did its job of carrying me over to Frankfurt and across the Atlantic with an overnight break. The non-adjustable aircon on the 747-8 would prove to be the undoing of the start of my trip though. Quick breeze through immigration and customs at Chicago, I was soon in my rental car and on my way to Indy. And I am not joking, the roads, despite being wide and up to 6 lanes in some places, are actually marginally worse than in Romania. Certainly did its part in keeping me awake for the over 3h30m that it took to actually navigate the Tri-State Tollway and the I-65. Fun note, if the posted speed limit is 65, everyone that's in something smaller than a truck is driving at least at 75. Arrived at the hotel in the end safely; while waiting at the reception I met Paul/paulb (I'd exchanged recognition signals with him and Jp) and after checking in we had our introductory race week dinner close to the hotel.
Thursday morning - wake up with a sore throat, detour to a pharmacy on the way to the track, nothing works (my preferred cold medication was back home). Picked up my tickets, visited the museum and the memorabilia shop, but the cold, the sun and the jet lag combined into one perfect storm which just about destroyed the rest of my day. At least the tickets were in hand so that our parking for Carb Day would be in place, and the museum gave me a first taste of the best the Indy crowd has to offer: a long long chat through history and through my trip in front of Al Unser Jr's 1994-winning Penske PC23, and pleasantly shocked and amazed looks when I would tell people that I'd come all the way from Romania. The historic Gasoline Alley was also a nice treasure trove of history that rested under a log row of canopies reminiscent of the paddock at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, albeit on a much smaller scale (if you've never been to FoS, the paddock there is insane, the cars that go up the hill are probably only 50-60% of the cars that actually reside in that paddock through the weekend). After a slight recovery, Thursday late afternoon was also the point when I first actually met Jp. :D
So on to Carb Day. The first day I actually got to experience the Speedway for real. And boy, did it not disappoint.
I only ever got to experience about a quarter of the place. The scale of IMS is pretty epic to experience first-hand, but it's hard to compare to road racing venues precisely because of its nature; the height of the grandstands is on par with a regular stadium, but the expanse of the interior is the thing that really jumps into the eye. With the Bronze Badge I got to walk through Gasoline Alley and look into the garages, and thanks to the sneaking skills of a certain Jp I also managed to snag that picture that graced the thread a couple of weeks ago (yes, on the podium) and also walked through the pit box area, in front of the fence. Sadly, waaay too early to actually run into anyone important or who I'd wanted to sign my flag. So we went back to the stands, and after a few minutes of scurrying around we'd found Paul, who managed to snag the best seats in the house for the practice session (despite the blazing sunlight): turn 1, Penthouse B. Overlooking the pit exit and the turn-in point. So... when 11am hit, the engines fired and the goosebumps shot up my spine in the same way they do when watching the cars roll out of the pits at the start of practice at Le Mans. 
And out they came to run around the Speedway for the final hour of practice. And they kept turning into 1 about 5 meters below our feet at speeds that still defy the imagination in real life, with some people already trying to practice the moves that they hoped they'd use either on a restart or after running down the person in front for a number of laps. Plenty of people drafted down the main straight and tried dives down the inside into 1, a few who'd tried to go around the outside had mostly completed their passes by the time they were underneath our feet. It was hard to tell who looked fastest, but there were a few people audibly lifting after turn-in so it was easy to discount them as fastest. :)) In the end we saw the timing pole saying TK had gone about as fast as anyone'd gone with a tow on race boost during the previous week's practice. And then onto Indy Lights - I'd hoped to watch from the pitlane side, but as it turns out - only the silver badge would officially get you in there during track time. So I would watch the first half of the race on screens around the place while trying to find a place, and the last 15 laps from one of the grandstands behind the pitlane. Even without a large entry, seeing 5 cars at it for lap after lap, and sometimes nearly 3- and 4-wide before getting into line for turn-in into 1 was an exciting sight. I was well-positioned as well to see Colton Herta's team celebrate as soon as the race ended. The less said about the pitstop competition, the better though: only one duel was won from the right-hand lane, so it was all pretty predictable in the end, and sadly for the entertainment of the crowd IMS must have skimped on the budget to hire a decent DJ. :))
Once the day at the track was over, we took a break to regroup and then returned to somewhere west of the track in the evening to meet up with Brian (B Squared) at the Union Jack Pub (fun fact: while in O'Hare waiting to check into my flight home, I listened to the Dinner with Racers episode with Paul Page and they'd done their interview at that exact same pub). The place is insanely packed with memorabilia from all kinds of series, besides Indycar, Nascar and drag racing stuff they also had a few F1 diecast models, a giant photo of Graham Hill hanging over the bar and a signed photo of Damon on the podium at Silverstone in '94. Probably the best pub I've seen so far as a motorsport fan. Because of the fact that we were at the actual bar (as it was pretty crowded) and the resulting noise, it was pretty hard to follow discussions, but it was still clear enough to follow and I also moved between the others to slyly insert myself into discussions (as you probably do while right at the bar). It's always interesting to hear the stories of people with a wider motorsport (and life, while we're at it) experience than you, and it was good to be the youngster of the group again for once: I was able to just soak the stories in and listen with all my interest. :)
After a Saturday to recharge and resupply for the race, marked by an evening visit to the nearby Drake's and meeting up with Ross (RaceNerd from the Indycar fantasy competition) and Jp's friend, it was time to look forward to the Sunday. And the combination of looking-forward-ness and some leftover jet lag made me wake up around 5am on race morning... so after a thorough morning prep and a big mug of coffee, it was time to proceed to the Speedway. And this is where the advantage of hanging out with an experienced race-goer like Jp came into it: after wading for a while through the traffic jam on Crawfordsville off I-465, we took a few back roads and turn-arounds and we managed to escape the pocket of traffic before parking at the main gate before 9am. And it was actually when sitting in the topmost rows of the SW Vista that I actually saw how big the place actually is: I could see the stands at the north end of the track but far far away, and the people in them were simply reduced to specks of colour in the blazing sunshine of Race Day. I took the guys' recommendation and grabbed a pork tenderloin from one of the concession stands, turned out to just be an Americanized name for a giant pork schnitzel with large breadcrumbs. :))
So on to the ceremonies. As a foreigner, you try to kind of prepare yourself for the in-the-face-ness of the "America, fuck yeah" tonality of the pre-race celebrations, but from trackside it's even more in-your-face than we can see even when watching a full race recording. After a few of these you learn to kind of take it in stride, follow the crowd and nod politely while respecting the traditions. Also, during the driver intros, I was one of the very few to cheer for Bourdais and Pagenaud.
That is... until Back Home Again in Indiana. This song is so inextricably linked to the 500 now in most of our heads, but until you actually hear it from the stands, it's still one of the traditions that I mentioned above. Even after hearing it in race recordings going back to the early 1990s, it still takes on a whole new meaning when hearing it at the track. And, again, the goosebumps tell their own story. Hearing it and knowing that the "start your engines" command is only seconds away gave me a thrill that, in motorsport terms, has only been surpassed by the sound of thousands of Frenchpeople booming out La Marseillaise minutes before Le Mans is supposed to start. Very hard to come down from that, even if the next moment is booing Tony George as he gives the command. Yes, people still hate him.
The start of the race was another one of those moments that stick with you for a long time afterwards. 33 cars jostling for position at 200+ mph off the rolling start through the south chute, 2- and 3-wide at some points while trying to resolve merge conflicts into the line they would need to inhabit after the first lap. Sadly, the next 40-odd laps didn't follow through on that, and even ignoring the radio it was pretty easy to figure out that up until James Davison's rollbar packed up for good, not much actually happened. Then Sato ran into him, and we went into a pretty frenzied sequence of yellow-restart-yellow-restart, frustratingly with none of the incidents actually happening in my sight. The closest I would actually get to seeing broken cars in front of me was Danica and TK's tire smoke when they spun off of 2, and Sage Karam's car on a flatbed being trucked back to the paddock.
The crowd was pretty much cheering for Ed, especially as he ran close to the front for most of the day. Most of the action in my line of sight happened on the restarts; we gasped when we saw Rossi remove Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud from his sights as he just drove around both of them through 1 and 2. And on another restart the whole crowd was in raptures as we saw the screen showing us cars nearly going 7-wide out of our sight and into turn 3.
Radio still rules for these events. The IMS Radio crew managed to paint a great picture even muddling through their regular ad breaks (why do US ad breaks have to always and EVERYWHERE be so frustratingly long and frequent???) One of the guys behind had commented positively on my Aston Martin Racing T-shirt before the race (we carried on a discussion for a bit after that), and had obviously remarked my cheering for the French guys; and since he also listened to the radio, we discussed Bourdais' crash right after it happened (and agreed that it had to have been from the setup change at the previous pitstop, way too much front wing added at one time).
Towards the end, I think many of us were following the disparate strategies that had come into play. There was a bit of a sense that we might see an upset happen... until the final restart. I think we all felt that even if the guys in front had enough fuel, Power just had a lot more in hand. He may have ended up passing Stefan Wilson on the last lap, but he would have found a way around him. In the end, it became a moot point (even though there was a massive collective groan when both Wilson and Harvey peeled off for fuel with 3 to go). However, this crowd knows how to celebrate a worthy winner, and Power most definitely was one. Even as he started the 200th lap the applause from the standing crowd started building up in our section of the track, and it erupted as he crossed the line and once again flashed through our sight, yet this time at half-speed and undoubtedly disbelievingly shouting like a maniac into his helmet. So Power celebrated, and we cheered him along as the podium ceremonies and the lap of honour around the track proceeded at their own pace.
Finally, we were pretty much ready to set off. Yet we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. Due to the traffic and the amount of cars that all wanted to leave together, we ended up spending more time in the car in the parking lot than we actually spent driving from the Speedway back to our hotel (through downtown instead of the I-465). We shared a bit of dinner at the Drake's again to chill out after the race while watching the 600 and the start of the traditional evening race replay on a couple of the TVs in the pub. EDIT: Oh yes, and on the way back from the track we went past a Taco Bell. THAT Taco Bell. Dixon and Dario's.  :lol:
We concluded on Monday evening, after a dreadfully hot day that was mostly spent packing and getting ready for the long journeys home, with a couple of Sato-branded beers and watching the victory banquet together in the hotel room. A relatively quiet way to wrap things up, but somewhat fitting to end calmly and quietly after a few extreme bouts of excitement.
A big big big big thank you to everyone I've met on this trip. Without the enjoyable company of the people from this forum that I met there, and without the hospitality and good nature of Hoosiers which manifests at its peak during the week of the 500, it would most likely have been a very different experience. As it was, it's been one to file away under "great stories to tell your kids" at some point. Sadly the bug that bites you to try to determine you to return didn't manage to bite through the very heavy issues of practicality, time and budget needed to do this again, so for the next few years I will once again be watching from home. But it's been an experience that I can heartily recommend to anyone with a taste for motorsport, and I fully get why this event has built up all this history and why it still attracts people through both tradition and modernity after all these years.
Now on to Le Mans.