Aww, yes, the Month of May, crazy times folks, especially if you are into auto racing.
We’re already hearing the roaring engines at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the Indy 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’’ You know, that BIG RACE that’s held in late May.
Many Speedway residents probably look at Race Day as a Cash cow, since they charge fans (wanting primo spots) to park in their yards — those fans who want the convenience of enjoying a close walk and not having to fight traffic or having to take a chance of someone possibly adding scratch marks to their cars.
Things like that can happen, you know, when the beer is pouring and intoxication might just be a green flag away from setting in.
And, unless you are young, impressionable and maybe a tad silly in the head, you might not want to wander down to the Snake Pit. Talk about crazy. Yep, it’s there . . . it’s got it all!!
Long lines getting in and out of the Speedway on 16th street and Georgetown road are simply ridiculous.
Usually the weather is hotter than Hillbilly Hell, and good luck finding shade in the Infield area. Or, maybe get caught in a downpour for a period of time, and then battle the heat while you walk through the mud.
Geez, I really miss those days!
I covered the 500 when I was with the Indianapolis News. The Great Hoosier Daily did things in an upscale manner most of the time. Except there were some annoying issues.
The boss and other editors, I’m guessing, were able to enjoy some special hospitality tents during most of the Month of May. Munching on food and washing it down with cold drinks was the thing to do. And, yes, there were a lot of private parties, though most of the sportswriters were never told where they were. There was a press room on the IMS grounds for us, mostly just for getting a soda and gathering information.
And even though us newspaper types were taken to the race via a motorcycle escort, it was better than most ways to reach IMS, though only the editors had credentials for the prime parking spots close to the track. The first year I followed closely behind them to park, then was told I did not have the proper credentials. I had to back out since there was no room to turn around.
You can imagine how much fun that was!
The motorcycle brigade wasn’t around during qualifications. And I can honestly say that I don’t miss all of that cars-in-a-line and crowd congestion and having to find a restroom when you really need one. I guess I was a little spoiled.
It used to be before all of the modern technology that the sportswriters would be assigned duties during qualifications and the 500-Mile Race itself.
My assignment for a couple of years was to sit inside Turn 3 against the fence during qualifications and the race. I had to wear headphones, and they were plugged into an outlet, so we could let the editors in the Tower Terrace or in the Paddock Penthouse, and maybe even in the pits know what was going on.
You know, like firing back speeds and car numbers as they entered the different turns around the 2 1/2-mile oval.
The funny part was that someone in that Big Tower (Paddock Press Penthouse) was announcing the times and telling the crowd who was leading, etc. Sometimes I think we were just along for a ride….and we were made available in case we were needed for something really important.
Geez, I really miss those days.
One time, my first year there, while I was comfortably seated on a bare spot where grass should have been, some kids threw chicken bones at me. No meat left on those bones, of course.
Yep, true story!
But the strangest thing to happen to me was when a young woman, not exactly overly dressed, came up behind me, stuck a finger through the fence and tapped me on the shoulder.
She asked me what I was doing.
“I’m not sure,’’ I told her, “But I can tell you I’m not enjoying it, and I’m simply not enjoying being here. I’m not supposed to leave my post unless it’s an emergency, like needing to use the facilities, you know.
“I’d love to have a bottle of water to help beat this sweltering heat. I guess I figured someone at the track might provide us with such. A good one, huh?’’
She actually went and got me a bottle of water. How cool was that!
Then she noticed my IMS Speedway pass.
“Can I get one of those?’’ she asked.
“Not unless you are a member of the media and are duly credentialed, and if you don’t have one by now, well, it’s a little too late, I told her.’’
“What would it take for me to get yours; I would do almost anything to get such a badge like that,’’ she said, flashing a playful grin.
My reply while feeling a little stunned since I was caught off guard by such a gesture, was: “Well, young lady, I can tell you where my wife is sitting. Why don’t you go find her and see what she has to say about that,’’ I said, in a somewhat tongue-and-cheek manner.
She gave me a dirty look as she walked away.
So, it was back to those roaring engines.
Geez, I really miss those days!

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.