May 12, 2018
I remember the first time I came to the Indy 500 in 1976, we lined up along this road in stopped traffic for hours. I was just amazed that in the little grassy area on the right, there were just people in sleeping bags all along the road, laying in the ditch, sleeping. The first year I went with my older brother and his friends we sat in the infield, in turn 3. It rained and they stopped the race after 100 laps but it wasn’t raining where we were, it was raining in turn 1.
So, I went to the infield that way, and then, I think ’77 and ’78, I went to the infield with a bunch of my friends. So, I think the next 2 years we did the infield with my friends. And then in ’79 we sat in turn 1. Then in ’80 I sat in the outside of turn 3. Then in ’81 we sat in turn 1 in the Tower Terrace with Gould through my brother. They were Rick Mears’ sponsor that year. From ’83 on we had tickets where we sit now, in Stand G, but we moved to the top row after a year or so.
In 1985, Danny Sullivan’s “Spin and Win” happened right in front of me, but mom was at the bathroom.
The only year we didn’t come here, we went to the race in Michigan, when the CART teams were not allowed to come here. When Tony George wouldn’t allow them. Mom went there, but I can’t remember what year that was. But every other year I’ve been here.
The year I sat in turn 1, when we had all the Gould stuff and seats, that was the year Rick Mears won and that was when I really got more interested in what was going on. He is still my all-time favorite driver by far. And even if Helio would end up winning his fourth, and he’s certainly been a popular guy and I would certainly root for him to win a fourth one. It was hard last year when he’s been second so many times, he’s been second, what, four times? In addition to winning three. But Mears had his years too where he was second. That was probably the worst race.
Mears ended up losing, but he was a half a lap behind after the last pit stop and he ended up nose-to-tail at the end and he was way way better. He took a chance and the driver he was competing with just cut him off really…masterfully I suppose, depending on who you were rooting for and he just couldn’t quite get back to it. So, was the closest finish for a long time, and they’ve had closer finishes since then, he got up beside him but he couldn’t get quite past him.
Then the year after Mears retired was the year that Penske was significantly faster than everyone else and won the race. And if he had just stuck it out one more year he clearly would have had a very good opportunity to win. That would have been cool, to be a five-time winner.
Photo by Doctorindy [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons.