One Fan's Opinion
On May 26, 1996 I was 20 years old and had just arrived home for the summer from college. I remember being really tired and I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch a race. I grew up in Chicago a massive fan of the 500 and Indycars. Milwaukee was the race I attended, and my walls were covered with racing posters (Marlbrough, Kool, and Copenhagen were all over my walls growing up and I have never been close to hooked on tobacco products, but that is not why you called). I would record the 500 every year and watch it over and over again all summer long. I knew the 80s and 90s 500s literally by heart.
On that day in 96, I remember being really annoyed at IMS. I didnít know Tony George from Adam, but I was mad that my heroes were not going to be racing where they were supposed to be on my favorite day of the year. I told myself I would watch Michigan and not a minute of Indy, but that would not be the case. That first lap wreck really drove home for me just what a farce the entire situation was. Then I had to see the start at Indy and I was sucked in by the old lady. I had to watch the 500. But I didnít know those drivers and it just wasnít the same. I turned off the TV and knew things would never be the same.
I did not watch another race for years. I had too much going on in my 20s and Indy didnít mean anything to me anymore. I had no room in my life for that watered down product. Then in 2005, while I was recovering from a big night I came across Danicamania. I watched, she lost and I was not quite hooked. (Really ABC? You call that a broadcast team?)
There was one Sunday in the early 2000s when I came across an IRL race. I remember being shocked at how close the cars were running and I turned the channel within minutes.
But come the 2006 500, everything changed for me. I met my would-be wife, who just happened to be from a town called Speedway. I attended my first live 500, saw Michael almost win, saw Marco almost win, and saw Sam steal it and I was back. This year I am going to my 7th consecutive 500. I know that makes me an amateur around here, but I love Indy as much as anyone. We have a long way to go to get this thing back to what it once was, and I doubt that ever really happens. I do think we can find a healthy place where this thing can still thrive. That decade will take a long time to overcome.
So, anyway, that whole split deal nearly ended it for me. I am happy it is over and grateful that we have managed to come out on the other side.