103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

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103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

Post by Greg2600 » June 7th, 2019, 1:04 am

Now I am well aware that most of you don’t give a toot about my motorsports meets, but I’m as passionate about them as any wrestling fan is of the squared circle legends! It’s really my wrestling hobby, with Indianapolis aka Indy Cars taking the prime spot. I’ve been a mega-fan since I was in 4th grade, over 30 years now. I’ve been to races many times, but never to the vaunted Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I decided to change that this year, for a few reasons. One, I had no other commitments, plus I had decent knowledge that several members of the Indy 500 winners’ club would be in town, and they’re in their 80s now. I flew out on Wednesday night to Indianapolis and got settled in.

On Thursday I visited the IMS Museum, which houses tons of the winning automobiles and whatnot, and this year had an exhibit dedicated to Mario Andretti. Just seeing these beautiful cars of yesteryear, over 100 years worth, was astounding. I’ve seen them only in books and on-line, so this was really a treat. They also had a vintage race car show outside so more to see. On Thursdays inside, they do a legends autograph session for only $25, but it was sold out months ago. The people working there were all really nice, and basically told me I could wait towards the back and ask for autographs. That’s just what I did! I met longtime announcer Bob Jenkins, IMS historian Donald Davidson, and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier, ironically right in front of his former car! The main get here was 3-time winner Bobby Unser, who doesn’t get around well anymore. He was chipper as ever though, and I got the combo! Most of the other participants I’d already met.

Thursday night I went to see the ultra-loud USAC sprint cars tumble around a 1-mile dirt track in the Hoosier 100. The following morning, I headed out to the Speedway again for what they call Carb Day. Here they practice the race cars and have concerts and whatever. I walked a ton, and was able to take photos and videos from both ends of the massive track. While I was in the paddock area, I ran into former Indy/NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger, a fresh one for me. That night I headed to a small paved track, Lucas Oil Raceway, for some more sprint car action!

Saturday was really going to be the main combo day for me. They hold a morning session for the current 33-car driver field for the race. It’s free, but the lines are huge, and you can only do a couple tables at a time. Since I have met or will meet most of them at Pocono, I just got some graphs in my lineup sheet of the guys who probably won’t be at Pocono. Taking photos was kinda tough because they rushed everybody. One big screwup I made was that apparently on Saturday the garage area is FREE to enter. Otherwise the pass is a lot of money. Had I known this, I would have gone there to get driver selfies. Oh well. They also setup a “legends” autograph session inside with a couple dozen former drivers. There were two sessions A and B. Despite getting there early, I only was able to get session B, as the other was capped. In any case, myself and a few other fans simply waited at the entrance and got many of them. None were particularly prominent, though I was too late for Al Unser, Sr., a 4-time winner, on the way in.

It started to rain, which was not good, and they hustled the older guys like Unser out of there. That was fine, as he would be appearing at a downtown Kroger food store later on. Likewise, 1983 winner Tom Sneva would be as well, but I thought I was screwed, because the 2nd session was taking place just before his Kroger appearance. To my luck, he wound up appearing in my session unannounced! Anywho, I met a number of drivers from my youth, including Pancho Carter, Lyn St. James, Willy T. Ribbs, Derek Daly, Davy Jones, and Geoff Brabham. The main one for me was 1999 Indy winner Kenny Brack, in addition to Sneva.

Once that ended, I headed back to my rental pickup truck, and headed downtown. Big Al Unser was there, signed whatever you had, and I got my photo! Sadly the oldest former winner, Parnelli Jones, was under the weather and did not travel from California for the race. In any event, if I go back 60 years, I’ve met the winners of 45 of them. There’s only like 5 or 6 that I still need, who haven’t died in crashes in the past. One is a hermit I’ll never see, but I think I can get the others in due time. Anyway, on Sunday I focused mainly on the race itself, getting to walk out on the track and then watching it. I did spot 1996 Formula 1 champion Damon Hill, an old favorite of mine, randomly.

Flickr: IMS Museum & Vintage Car Show - Lots of Legendary and Rare Race Cars!

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Flickr: Meeting the Legends of the Indy 500!

Bobby and Al Unser (3-time and 4-time Indy winners)
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Sneva, Lazier, Brack (Indy winners)
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St. James, Ribbs (trailblazers)
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Hill, Brabham (F1 and IMSA GTP champions)
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Signed 103rd Indy 500 Grid Sheet

Signed cards and Unser 8x10s
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Look I got on TV with Dale Jr.!

Flickr: Sprint Cars at the 2019 Hoosier 100 and Carb Night Classic!

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Flickr: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500!

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The Paunch Stevenson Show pop culture podcast : http://www.paunchstevenson.com

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Re: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

Post by Cozmik » June 7th, 2019, 5:34 am

Cool picture sitting on the track! As good a get as many celebs.

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Re: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

Post by Joresky » June 7th, 2019, 9:50 am

Awesome pics! Congrats :like:

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Re: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

Post by ICW » June 7th, 2019, 1:27 pm

This was such a great report! It's so great to see your passion for this come through. Excellent stuff, my friend.
Feel free to visit my blog concerning wrestling conventions, signings, and meet & greets!

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Re: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Report

Post by WOODMO » June 9th, 2019, 9:43 am

This was a great read! Glad it worked out so well

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