Today was opening day of practice for the Indianapolis 500, which is in two weeks. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is about 40 miles from our RV park, and we headed out around 9:30. The trip took about an hour. About half the trip was town driving with stop lights. Our Garmin Nuvi GPS kept trying to route us through downtown. Fortunately Jim was watching the Google Maps on his smart phone and he made corrections to the route.
When we got to the track the line going into the tunnel to the infield was long, and headed toward us. So we had to drive about a half mile past the track and do a u-turn to get in line. We’re so glad to have my little car. Things like that are a challenge in a dually pickup truck.
My goodness the infield of this track is huge! We drove past the Indy 500 Museum, past a golf course (a golf course!!), and finally made it to the parking area just inside turn 3. I took this panorama from our parking spot with my new Fujifilm digital camera.
This scoreboard was our "marker" to find our car at the end of the day.
Along with being the first day of practice, there was also a big car show in the plaza behind the pit area. So we jumped on a shuttle and rode waaay over to the homestretch area and spent a leisurely hour walking among some of the most beautiful cars we've ever seen. There were cars from the 20's to the 60's. Here's a sampling of what we saw.
A Bugatti. You don't see many Bugattis; some like this are worth millions. There were four of them in a row from the 20's and 30's.
This one's easy, a Corvette.
I believe this is a Bentley.
This is more our style... a '67 Hemi Charger
A sweet '64 GTO
It's amazing that all of these cars were just sitting out in the open, with no ropes or anything to keep the crowds away.
This is the Pagoda (media center) that towers over the start-finish line. This is the back side of it, the track is on the other side.
We had the run of the whole speedway. The only place we couldn't go was inside the garage area or inside the actual pits. However, you could lean on the 4-ft high chain link fence that separated the pits from the grandstand.
As noon approached we decided to take a seat in the Tower Terrace grandstand behind the pits, in the shadow of the Pagoda.
Our view of the homestretch.
Some cars finally took to the track. The went around one at a time, and they were probably being pretty careful since this was the first day of a week of practice.
After watching practice for awhile we walked around some more. This is the famous "yard of bricks" that parallels the start/finish line on the track. As you can see it stretches from the track, across the pits, and goes through the plaza behind the Pagoda. This is looking through the gate into the pits, and the track is just beyond the guy in the red shirt way in the background.
We had lunch at an outside picnic area and had a nice conversation with a couple who live here in Indianapolis. They were very fascinated with our full timing lifestyle. They're into scuba diving, which interested Jim since he did an orientation dive once on a cruise years ago. We gave them one of our business cards and, if you're reading this Chris and Cindy, it was nice meeting you!
After lunch we walked through the tunnel under the track, to see what it was like in the main grandstand on the outside of the track.
It’s LOUD under here when the race cars go over!
We first went to the lower grandstand. Nice view... you can see all of the homestretch and the pits. Here's a car coming by at around 220 mph.
But the best view was up top in the second deck in the "Paddock" stand. You can see all of the homestretch and most of turns one and two, and part of the backstretch. And also a great view of all of the pits.
You can see the Indianapolis skyline in the distance beyond turn two.
The flag stand and start/finish line. Notice the yard of bricks? (There's that guy in the red shirt from the previous photo.)
Coming out of the pits for some hot laps.
We weren't allowed in the garage area, but Gasoline Alley is the lane that goes from the garage area out onto the track.
They stopped pedestrian traffic when a car was towed in or out. This is how close they were when they came by.
We made our way back to the car, but before leaving we had to walk over to the short stretch between turns three and four to watch the action from the mound just inside the track fence.
All in all, an awesome time! We wish we could be here to see the race. But Jim will have to settle for watching it on TV. Memorial Day is his favorite holiday because he gets to watch the Formula One race from Monaco, the Indy 500, and the Charlotte 600 all in one day. That's about 10 hours of racing!
On the way home we met our friend Marian at Culver's for dinner. When we got back to the RV there were several campfires smoking up the whole park. It started bothering my breathing so we turned on the air conditioner.
We watched the NASCAR race from Darlington and just relaxed the rest of the evening. The weather was perfect - no rain, warm (but not hot), and no humidity. A wonderful day at the track!