Indy First-Timers Tell Us About Your 2012 Indy 500
I'm from Champaign, IL, so the speedway is just a quick two hour drive from home. I work for a major cellular phone service company who sponsors a major IndyCar team and specifically one driver who may currently be the points leader, and really got into the sport due to activation efforts of said company.
I originally was only planning on attending Iowa this year with my father, but I realized how much of a life event I would be missing if I didn't go to the race - and I was right in that I will always remember my first 500. I set my schedule at work so that I could attend Fast Friday, Pole Day, and the race itself. I bought a Bronze Badge, rented a scanner for the week, and basically spent all of Fast Friday and Pole Day in the paddock stalking my favorite cellular phone service company sponsored driver. I just can't believe the access that IndyCar fans are granted. My favorite part of the week before the race was before WP's qualifying run, because he was talking to RP on pit road and saw me and waved at me. Official stalker status achieved ...
For race day, I was lucky enough to be able to sit with TrackForum member jandj. I had to drive in on Sunday morning due to my work schedule, so I decided the earlier the better. I left Champaign around 3am local time, and got a nice parking spot in the triangle on the corner of 16th and Georgetown. I walked up to my seat in B box at 6:30am to drop off my cooler, took AWESOME pics of the empty grandstands before the rush of fans got there, and then somehow found my way onto the track, which was surreal. Then I walked around the infield, made my way to the Snake Pit, and in general people watched up until all the prerace stuff started. I'm not going to lie, there were multiple times where I couldn't hold back tears during the prerace activities. I met Dan Wheldon in Vegas last year, and had a hard time keeping my composure when his tribute video played. For the start of the race, I now understand the special meaning of 11 rows of 3. It's not just a way of describing how the field starts, but rather 11 rows of 3 is a goosebump inducing memory of the moment that I will wait for every year. I was calling my parents and my friends and just putting my phone on speakerphone so that they could hear 33 IndyCars roaring in anger. The race itself was awesome, and I couldn't help myself but join in the crowd reactions when Ed and TK were moving up at the end.
Some of my random takeaways:
- Having a veteran able to answer all my newbie questions made my first 500 that much more special. Thanks for putting up with me jandj! ebst thi
- Having a favorite driver is a way for someone without much racing pedigree to not get in the "just a bunch of left turns" mindset.
- Renting a scanner was well worth the $35. Honestly, I got a little bored after WP wrecked, but I started getting back into the race after I kept the scanner on Marco's channel.
- Once they found out I was going to the 500, a couple friends asked me about Benny Benassi playing at the Snake Pit. They have no interest in racing, but knew about his concert already. If the Speedway books another high level EDM talent again next year, I should be able to get some of my friends to tag along with me for their first IndyCar experience. Come for the music, experience the race, and become fans.