Saturday, May 27, 2017

Indy 500 Memories

By Chanda Healton
Photo thanks to Larry Willems
Growing up in Indiana, I have long been a fan of the Indy 500. I began attending before I could ride a bike without training wheels, and the memories I have made there are for a lifetime. My first race was in 1984 where I watched Rick Mears win his second race. It turned me into his fan for many years to come. I have seen history made there and dreams shattered. The Indy 500 is in my soul and tomorrow I will return for yet another race. Tonight memories of races past are strong. That very first Indy 500 I mentioned that I attended 33 years ago? My first memory is of a couple guys wearing Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan masks standing on top of their RV mooning people! 

Another favorite memory was 1986. The rain delays were many that year. I was 8 years old and watched as two drunks carried a 3rd out of the track. They dropped him on his back and the first one said to the second. "Oh shit, We dropped him. They ran off and left their friend in the puddle!  I always wondered what happened when the friend caught up to them! 

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Chanda Healton at the 2016 Indy 500
Photo credit
Then there was 1999, the first race after I was old enough to legally drink. My best friend, Carrie Johnson and I took some alcohol with us and were slightly tipsy, her more so than me. As we left our little wooden grandstands that stood just inside turn 1 we heard honking behind us. Everyone moved out of the way, but Carrie jumped off to the side and fell. As she stood up, yelled "The race is over!" and gave the golf cart the 1 finger salute, I realized who was on the back of it. It was our favorite Nascar driver Tony Stewart heading to the race in Charlotte for the first Memorial Day double! We still laugh about it years later! Tht was our last year in those seats as the next year they were torn down to make way for Indy's now famous road course!
I also asked what is your favorite memory of the Indy 500 to Facebook friends and the IndyCar group Elite IndyCar here are some of their answers:

 Danilo Nardini Mancini When TK won, when it was on the yellow flag before Franchitti crash, I said to my dad: "Well if someone crash, he will win", and that's pretty much what happened.

Jeff Chiszar 70's....infield for a practice day. Beer may have been involved. Playing catch with a football...Arthur tossed me the ball, took off, and said, "lead me". So I did. He laid out to catch it and crumpled on the hood of a car. Know your target....

Brian Ditmer I just recall last year. We wound up driving around for an hour trying to figure out how to get to our parking in the infield. We wound up being directed to drive across the driving range of the golf course. The 100th running was a crazy scene... Lol loved it!

Photo thanks to Kurt Winkleman
Don Mulder My buddy and I shared our large order of bread with the neighboring table at an Italian restaurant in downtown Indy the night before the race in 2000. The lady sort of sized us up by asking about how we watched the race. When she figured we weren't race drunks she gave us her address on a napkin so we could come to the post race party at her house about six miles from the track. This year will be our 18th year in a row at the party!



Kurt Winkleman I used to listen to the race on Radio and really wanted to go. I told everyone hoping someone would get me there. In 1962 (I was 9) much to my surprise my Maternal Grandmother brought me to the race we saw Roger Ward win from Tower Terrace seats. She braved every minute of the race like a Trooper. Now I go with my son and two of my grandchildren and sit in Tower Terrace seats.

Ryan Christopher I broke my leg the night before the 2008 race. I bought crutches at CVS and went to the race. By time I got there my leg was pretty much one size from mid thigh to my ankle from the swelling. I stopped at a fire truck by the A and B Stands, they called a golf cart ambulance and it took me to the Infield Care Center. They wanted to put me in an ambulance and send me to the hospital, but I wouldn't miss the race. So they made a splint out of several splints, gave me a bunch of Motrin and sent me on my way. A golf cart took me back to my seats in the Paddock Penthouse. There was no way I could do the stairs so a yellow shirt snuck me in a catering elevator. After the race my friend was to drunk/sick to drive me to hospital so I drove myself using the crutch to press the clutch. The ER Dr kept lecturing me about not coming right in and I kept telling him "you live in Indy and you don't know how important the Indy 500 is?" Race Tax paid, but I did not miss the race!

Aprile White Patterson My daughter and I left Ontario Canada at 4:00 on the Saturday afternoon and drove straight through, playing word games near the end to try and stay awake. I think we got the last room in town, not much sleep and the next day I woke up with a massive migraine. The event meant putting pain and nausea aside and with my daughters' help I managed to see the whole race. I hope to get back again someday....feeling better of course...

Brett Kear I was living in Los Angeles. My boss gave me you OK to wait out the rain and stay until Tuesday . . . The race was initially rescheduled for Monday and then Tuesday. . . But was finally scheduled for the following Saturday. . . I ended up trading my 2 (top of the line) paddock Penthouse tickets {a whopping $80 each in those days ) for a "Mears Gang" t-shirt to a drunk at Union Jacks in Speedway.
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The famous Pagoda at IMS
Photo credit Joshua Healton

Paul Reams Can't remember the year, would have been early eighties we were in the North forty the night before the race consuming adult beverages and people watching. About dark we noticed a guy passed out in the fire lane and his buddies debating whether or not to get him up. Finally one of them said something to the effect of "I ain't gonna bother him man, he's mean when you wake him up" They walked away and left him.

Don Mulder In 1986 WLS radio in Chicago had a 500 trivia contest to win a package to the race. I ordered from the track that year for the first time and the seats stunk. So why not try to win GOOD SEATS on the radio? Long story short I won because I knew who Tony Hulman was. Plane tickets, room at the downtown Indy Hilton, spending money and what happened? Constant rain and a W9 form to the IRS. Never saw the race and it cost me about $400. Went back a week later. Sat in the paddock and saw a close 1-2-3 finish.

Joshua Healton The earliest memory I have of the 500 is going with my dad and sitting inside the track. I want to say it was turn 3. As we were leaving, I heard someone shout, "Show us your boobies." Dad got us out of there quickly. I don't remember what year it was or who won, but I do remember there we more drunk a$$holes back then.
Also, we had to walk a long way. Dad dindt want to pay for parking. Back then the Coke lot was free. He would park there and walk to the track. I am sure it is not as far as I remember it being, but it was a long treck for a small child. I was about 7 or 8 at the time.

Justin Plummer The very first Indy 500 I watched flag-to-flag was the 1992 edition; been an Indycar/IRL/CART fan sinc

Terri Rogers Zumbrook Last year at the 500 on Legends Day, I had a meet and greet with Dario Franchitti and I gathered the courage to ask him aout something I always wondered about driving.. He took several minutes answering my question and told a few stories about other drivers that fit it, too. Part of his answer appeared in a recent Road and Track article on the physical challenges of driving Indy Cars. What was great about it was it actually seemed like something he doesn't get asked about and he said , "0h wow that's a good question" and then had to think a bit before answering.
But this is my favorite Indy 500 story!

Don Conard IMS can be a jungle. One of our group years ago was lost for two months before he found his way back home. Back then there was an active railroad next to Crawfordsville Road and our guy climbed in a grain car to recuperate from his alcohol buzz and as far as we could tell from his recollection, he ended up in Pennsylvania. Frosty was to our little town what Otis was to Mayberry. Three of us high school kids were making plans to go to the race when Frosty overheard our plan and volunteered to pay for our whole deal if he could come with us. It was an offer we couldn't refuse!

"You know what makes the Indy 500 so special? 
It's a reflection of all that's good.
It's physical location in the near-center of the United States means that almost anyone in the nation doesn't have to trek too far to attend.
It's one of the few special races in the world that accepts drivers from almost every racing discipline. If you qualify, you're in the show.
It's a race that does not discriminate. Everyone has an equal chance to win. It's a matter of how well you drive and how your team manages your car. And no matter where the driver calls home, he/she is enthusiastically celebrated as a champion.
Hard work, grit, talent, and determination could crown you the champion, but the track may not grant your wish. A pinch of luck is needed.
It's a place that can humble the arrogant and praise the patient in an instant. You experience the dizzying highs and the lowest of lows in the blink of an eye.
It's a place that brings out the best in human spirit.
It's a race like no other. And I love it" -Amarpreet Chima

Tomorrow will be 101 races filled with amazing memories. If you have been, there is a chance you have an amazing story to go with it. Fast Lane Race News would love for you to tell us in the comments.



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