Road Trip to Indianapolis

Viewing the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in person

20070526- 20070527

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Entrance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the most famous race tracks in the world.

The Experience

Both Kathleen and I are race fans and had been to Indianapolis before to see the Formula One race. We have a unimog buddy, Dan Johnson, who lives close to Indianapolis in a town called Crawsfordsville. So, we imposed on Dan to host us for the Indy 500 race. Dan was nice enough to not only put us up in his ranch, but he also lent us his brand new Unimog 500 to use. We made several trips to Indianapolis both on race day and the day before. We had a great time. Not to mention getting plenty of respect in that 'mog.

The photos below are what we saw.

The entrance view to Dan's ranch. This is a nice big place on 30 acres with great trees next to Sugar Creek.

This is Dan's barn/workshop. It works well for holding multiple unimogs, boats, etc. A "man cave" as it were.

This is a brand new U500. This truck is very, very big. In fact, it is more than a full foot taller than my 1300L, a foot longer and 4,000 pounds heavier. Sadly, the loading height for the bed is a full 5 feet. Makes my back hurt thinking about it.

With Kathleen standing next to the rig, you can get a sense of scale.

This shot gives a better sense of the size of the truck. The objective of the day was to head to race track to check out the local color the day before the race. So, we saddled up and drove the U500 to the Indy 500. Poetic, huh? This is a nice truck and is both comfortable and (relatively) quiet and cruises at 65 no sweat.

The area around the track was a zoo. There were tons of people and tons of vendors. And plenty of beer. Note these two fellows above carrying beer. They are smiling because they are checking out the truck.

Some of the finest "race wear". She had checkered glasses as well as the hat, shoes and dress.

There were other nice rides in the area. The race brings out the auto freaks in everybody.

Here are some "dead soldiers" resulting from the pre-party. These boys were working hard to make this pile of cans.

Danica Patrick was the hottest property at the track. Not only is she a capable driver, she is very attractive. She finished 7th. The race was very "fractured" due to the numerous accidents.

The area by the race track was croweded with folks that were attending "Carb Day" as well as just cruising. This was just like cruising Mission Beach during the summer.

As we were cruising, we were passed by this fire engine. This shot shows how tall the U500 is compared to the fire truck.

The area around the track was like a carnival, complete with folks doing stunts. Here, this lady is swallowing a balloon to the hoots of the male onlookers.

The next morning, we headed back to the track and the road that we traveled the day before was now a river of race fans on their way to the track.

We got inside the track and found our seats. We had seats at turn 3, which is a good location. There had been some rain over night, and the track has to be dry to run. So, the Indy team has developed jet dryers that are basically jet engines that have a duct on the output end that directs the exhaust to the ground drying the surface of the track. The engine is mounted on a trailer with an operator controlling the engine. Because of the rain, we were not sure that the race would be run at all. As it turned out, it ran over a 100 laps before a rain hold was called.

The stands were packed well before the start of the race. While some seats were still empty, there was nearly an hour to go before the actual start of the action.

The national anthem was accompanied by a fly-by of a set of F-22 Raptor fighters.

The start of the race is accompanied by the release of several thousand balloons. I am not sure where they end up, but hopefully not in the flight path of the airliners inbound to Indy airport.

The racers are in position for the green flag. They are in rows of three for the start.

They are off!! And they are loud. Ear protection is a must. Some folks wear plugs and muffs.

These cars come by turn 3 at nearly 200 mph.

My 1DsMII does a great job of shooting moving targets.

The Indy 500 consists of 200 laps on the oval track. It only takes a few laps before the cars get quite spread out.

A view of the debauchery in the infield. Note the 2 fellows with the nodding heads in the lower center. These fellows are passed out and stayed in that position for most of the race despite the incredible noise of the cars passing less than 50 feet away.

One of the early accidents. Milka Duno crashed her rig, but was uninjured. She was a favorite of the crowd since, like Danica, she is one of the few women drivers. And like Danica, very attractive.

The infield crowd has been misbehaving. They have been stuffing dead beer cans into the fence. Also note that one of the guys in the lower part of the photo has a shirt that declares that he is on the "Tit Crew" (as opposed to the "pit crew"). Interesting and funny, but I'll bet that he does not get much "traction" with that shirt.

The race continued after cleanup from the crashes. They were back up to full speed on the following lap.

Ugh, another crash. Again, without injury. Later, after about 100 laps, the rain started in earnest. The race was stopped due to the deluge and about 1/2 of the crowd left. We did too.

The rain got harder as we left and there were deep puddles everywhere. Folks were scurrying to get out of the rain, but there was no place to hide.

Due to the rain, when the race was stopped, everybody expected that the race would be called with the drivers finishing in their respective positions when it was called. But, to the surprise of many, the race was restarted 3 hours later and ran to about 160 total laps before it was fully rained out. The winner was Dario Francini and Danica finished 7th (although she was at 3rd place for a long time and lost that position as a result of a bad pit). Getting out of the area after the race was problematic. The traffic, as expected, was terrible, but the local police decided to re-direct the traffic flow into the boondocks through side roads. It took us about an hour to exit the area. But, that was a small price to pay as we had a great time and would do it again.

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