It’s the official Memorial Day holiday, yet it feels rather uneventful. For many, it’s a day off of work. Unfortunately, too many are spending it unemployed or unhealthy in these pandemic times. I want to especially take the time to remember those who lost their lives defending our freedom, including my own grandparents and fathers. Thank you just isn’t enough. The sun should be shining in their honor, but instead it’s gray and overcast. Traditional picnics will be indoors at safe social distances. Parades have been cancelled, other events delayed.
My wife is certainly in the patriotic spirit, with table decorations, flowers, and flags to mark the occasion. Tally is wearing her “red, white, blue, and cute” collar to show-off her new haircut. I just finished my run with little else planned for the day. I’m grateful to be alive and well, but anxious to travel again. Regrettably, it will be some time before I’m “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
It just doesn’t seem like Memorial Weekend without the Indy 500, even though I’m thousands of miles away from any action. They did come to Portland last year, so I scored some complimentary seats. It was nowhere near the same! All that frantic scrambling I did through the years to get tickets for friends, family, and clients is just a distant memory. Then, there were house guests that just wouldn’t go away because of race delays as long as a week. Early mornings fighting traffic were always a hassle. A run-away dog once held-up the carefully planned get-to-the-track-on-time schedule. There were also the humorous moments like when I illegally got into a police escort line, speeding by all those stopped by the sirens until they caught me. I also lost my young son, after he ran away angry into the crowd. After searching for hours I found him safely protected by “Mud Man,” a drunken superhero with a muddy cape from diving in the puddles. There was also that race that I arrived at the Speedway in style by helicopter, avoiding all traffic like a real big shot!
I usually spent Race Day trying to get my guests in places where they needed special credentials or invitations. It was a game that more than often turned out successfully, considering all the contacts I made through the years. I miss the fried biscuits and apple butter that were served with Jug’s popular fried chicken. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was my office every May. I sold media sponsorships, driver appearances, car branding, and suite VIP experiences. One Memorial Weekend I even went jet skiing with the Unser and Andretti families. I rarely sat during the race, moving from the infield grass for the start, to the pit or garage areas; to the tower, suites or top row for the best overall perspectives; and finally for the Winner’s Circle for the milk bath. My Gold badge was the key to all this freedom.
These days I could never tolerate the crowds or afford to go by chopper. There are probably not enough VIP credentials as motivation to go. I’d spend all my time searching for another bathroom, that incidentally weren’t always the cleanest. The best seat for me is in front of the TV, listening to the radio broadcast. It will never replace the unforgettable ear-splitting sound of 33 cars on the track at the same time, partially to blame for my present hearing loss. I especially won’t miss the Indiana heat and humidity that could turn to snowflakes the very next day. With the new August date, snow will not be a surprise. We’ll hopefully be on a road trip back to Florida while it’s happening – if it happens?