May is a big deal here in Indy, and for the past spring or two Andy and I have wondered, “should we be taking the kids to the track?” This year they seemed the right age so we headed to the Speedway for the Indy 500 Pole Day.
Despite the heat, Henry and Eleanor did great and we all had a blast. As each car did their qualifying run, it was so cute to watch the kids look towards Turn 4, yell “I see him! I see him!” (or her!) as the race car entered the turn, and then see their smiles as ZOOM the car raced past us at 220+ miles per hour. We cheered for Josef Newgarden (a driver for Sarah Fisher, have to support the woman-owned team!), Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan (my favorite driver). Everyone in the stands did a collective “WHOA” when James Hinchcliffe did his 227 mph warm-up lap.
Henry and Eleanor also enjoyed using the walkway under the track and hearing the cars zoom overhead, the bounce house set up for kids, and seeing a race car up close as it was towed up Gasoline Alley. We also exposed them to some of the finer racing culture, such as the shirtless tattooed guy gnawing on a huge turkey leg, and the extreeeemely drunk old lady who fell face first into the grass in the parking lot (providing a good “this is why you see Mommy and Daddy only have one or two beers” teachable moment, after Andy helped her to her feet).
I’ve been to the track during May three times now, once for the race, once for a practice day, and now Pole Day. And the thing that always surprises me is how much I love to watch the cars. Andy would ask me, “Who ARE you?” and I would look up from my iPhone, where I was following real-time lap results while muttering about Lotus engines and wail, “I DON’T KNOOOOOWWWWW!”
I even went on a complete internet blackout the day of the race, to not get any spoilers before Andy and I could watch the race rerun on TV that evening. Yes, you read that right, I gave up THE INTERNET. And then stayed up past bedtime to watch all 3+ hours of the race, and cared about stuff like lead changes and gas mileage. And then felt sad that May in Indy was over.
So I’m still not sure how I became this big Indy Car fan, when I couldn’t tell you the difference between a clutch and a transmission. But I AM sure that I’ve already made plans to attend the race next year, and to encourage my Hoosier children to enjoy their hometown’s most fun month.