Monday, July 27, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

We have experienced our first act of spontaneity and with it, our first change in schedule to our road trip itinerary. As you may have inferred from the end of the previous post, we were supposed to go to Detroit on Sunday, where we planned to attend a Tigers game and perhaps buy some real estate. However, over the course of our Shabbat in Beachwood, we were informed that there would be a Nascar race taking place in Indianapolis on Sunday, a mere 5 hours away. We quickly agreed to ditch Detroit in favor of what we anticipated would be a once in a lifetime, real American experience.
  • We spent the night in a small motel in Richmond, Indiana, about an hour away from Indianapolis. We were warned on the phone that it was going to be very loud there because a baseball team was staying there for the night. We were a little excited for this for about half a second until we remembered that this was a $70 a night motel in the middle of nowhere Indiana. The baseball team staying there was probably not going to be the Cubs.
  • We awoke to a continental breakfast of cereal, coffee, and not much else. The following conversation actually occured...
    Ushi: What type of milk do I normally use?
    Me: How should I know? What color is the carton usually?
    Ushi: I think red.
    Me: Well that is typically whole milk, but that surprises me...
    Ushi: Oh, well I think it might be some type of organic brand, but I'm not sure
    Butch: Are you serious? How can you not know what type of milk you drink at home?
    Ushi: Oh, well I'm sorry I'm not some sort of milk expert like you guys.

    Apparently Butch and I would be wise to switch career paths and tap into our vast milk expertise and take that show on the road. More importantly, we learned that Ushi has never purchased a carton of milk in his entire life.

The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

  • I am sometimes jealous (at least in theory, but not really) of the people that live in smaller cities. They have one or two sports teams and when they host events, the entire city gets taken over by it. In New York, if a local team is a contender, half the city is probably rooting against them, and a good portion of the city is too preocuppied with other activities to care. Yesterday was probably one of the 3 biggest days of the year in Indianapolis and the race's presence was felt in every square inch of the city that we passed through.
  • There was limited parking in the actual Speedway, so the people who lived nearby, starting 2 or 3 miles away in both directions, converted their front lawns into parking lots. The prices ranged from $50 right across from the Speedway to $10 a few miles away. We opted for a convenient, but not too pricey $20 lawn.
  • Perhaps the best aspect of this experience that puts these races way ahead of other events in this regard, is that they let you bring in your own food and drinks, and as much of it as you want. People wheeled in giant coolers filled with beer, sandwiches, and who knows what else. We entered with bags of chips and cheese curls and a 12-pack of PBR.
  • The first thing you notice as soon you walk in is the sheer vastness of the Speedway (we had to take a tram to get from the entrance to our seats because it was too far to walk) and the incredible volume of people that are there. Officially, the capacity of the venue is 400,000 people. Attendance was evidently way down from last year (apparently even Nascar races aren't recession proof), but still, there is something about 200,000 or so people joining together in a common purpose that gives even things you might think are dumb tremendous cultural significance. This is what we were there to witness.
  • We made it to our seats moments after the green flag was dropped by Indiana Pacers' rookie Tyler Hansborough. As the cars came around the corner, they seemed to be moving pretty slowly and nobody seemed that excited. I asked the guy next to me if this was some sort of practice lap. He told me that they do 3 warm-up laps before they start the actual race. "Don't worry," he said. "You'll know when they're going for real."
  • And we did. There are two basic words in the English language that you can't fully comprehend until you have been to one of these races.
  • The first word is "fast." When they kicked into gear and came around that first corner, those cars were moving faster than anything I have ever seen moving in my entire life. The official gun in the center of the track clocked them ranging from 130-150 MPH, but our quick math (average of about 50 seconds a lap on a 2.5 mile track) yield a speed upwards of 170 MPH. The official qualifying speeds corroborate our version.
  • The second word is "loud." I have been to loud football games, rock concerts, airports, on 96th street at night, you name it. But when those cars pass by it gets so loud, not only can't you talk, you can't think. Initially this wasn't a big deal because of the 50 seconds that comprise a lap, the cars zoom by for about 15-20 seconds from the leading car to last place and then you have about a 30 second break before they come around to you again. However, as the race goes on and the pack spreads out, this break is eliminated. There is a constant loudness as literally every 2 seconds another car zips by.
  • Laps 30-130 (of 160 in total) are pretty boring. We moved into a grass area in the center of the track, where you could lay out about 15 feet from the track. We wanted to fit in, so we removed our shirts for a little bit. For Butch, this was normal procedure for outdoor events.
  • When the race was nearing its end, we decided to move to the stretch of the track near the finish line so that we could watch the exciting conclusion live and in person. I was a little surprised that we were able to do this so easily, as there were plenty of open seats. I was more surprised that nobody else was trying to do this. Evidently, people in Indiana don't know about "moving to better seats."
  • Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, winner of the 16th annual Allstate 400 at the Brockyard, and the 1st racer to win it in back to back years. We learned in the parking lot on the way out that he is also a very prominent child molester. We have no way of knowing if this is true.
  • If you ever find yourself in a position to attend one of these races, do not pass it up. It is an extremely fun and cool experience that is worth doing once in your life. I don't plan on ever attending another one in my life but making it to one was very worthwhile and was an experience I don't think I will soon forget.

1 comment:

Etan Bednarsh said...

Why didn't you guys buy 3 kinds of milk out of deference?