Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Melting!

We made it! We're parked just outside the frontstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The famous pagoda is visible from our campsite. The top is illuminated with blue lights, and should somebody be running on the track, there is a massive leader board wrapping around the roof.

We are in a city. This is a unique experience for racing. At the corner of Turn One, there is a gas station, a liquor store and the kind of three-way intersection that makes most urban residents of our nation cringe. The campground is surrounded by pleasant one-level homes built in the 50's. Most of them have RV's renting space on the front lawn. The American Legion Speedway Post is within a stone's throw, and promises a $7 breakfast buffet on Sat. & Sun morning. Also, of note, they claim to have a biker club...only in America.

The weather....100 degree heat index with very high humidity. We shopped for food (A/C), went to the museum (A/C) and took a brief tour of the track (more A/C) then figured out how to fool the RV into allowing the Honda generator to run the A/C without blowing a circuit for a short time. They say more of the same to come for the will be a battle between watching racing maintaining our sanity.

What is unique about Indy vs. the other racing venues we've visited is the history. This is where automotive history has been made over and over. It's not all about NASCAR. In fact, their museum deigned to make enough room for two whole stock cars in the collection...that says something. We looked at Daemler carriages from the late 1800's--metal, wood, leather and all moving parts visible. Speedometers run off gears from the front wheel. Suspension parts made out of woven straps. Basic rudder systems for steering. Dashboards? What are those?

It's proof that we've been going as fast as possible since the beginning of time, and we've spent the last century figuring out how to do it with an engine and four wheels. Sometimes with understated elegance, and at other times stripped to the bare essentials. There was one car from the 20's that was pock-marked with an effort to strip weight off the behemoth to meet a race entry requirement--unsuccessfully.

Otherwise...the track is much the same as any other. Grandstands stand empty waiting for the pomp and ceremony of Sunday to arrive. That's when the magic happens.

Until then... :)

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