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Sunday is the 100th time that the Indianapolis 500 race happens in Speedway Indiana. The race is correctly known as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” which you quickly validate by attending just one race.
The best seats in the house are on Corner number three at an angle so that you can see part of corner number two, all the way down the backstretch and leading all the way out of turn four.
There is no seat in the house giving you the full view of the entire 2.5-mile track as it is too large. The infield even features a golf course along with the massive pit areas and pagoda.
The first Indianapolis 500 taught me a few lessons, including shooting pictures at an angle when the cars are at full speed. My Sony digital camera would only catch black dots on the pavement with the cars going 220 plus miles an hour past us.
But the biggest lesson is just to watch the entire action, not a particular car because you'll have a headache and a sore neck trying to keep up with the cars on the track. Newbies are easily spotted trying to keep tabs on their favorite driver.
The Indianapolis 500 color combinations are unique on each car. The rear wings feature the number along with a contrasting color to the air intake. The Indy 500 program guide features a pull out of all the cars and drivers with their correct color combinations. You can't read the numbers at full speed.
Crashes are spectacular typically happening so fast that you realize what happened as the cars come to rest. Rarely if ever will a car survive a crash to return to the track, and the wrecks take a bit to clean up.
Attendees for the Indianapolis 500 can order packed lunches at the track that you pick up at designated locations, and it is the one place where you are allowed to bring food into the track, despite having concessions everywhere.
Friday and Saturday nights are quite the events outside the track as they close the road directly outside the track, and a huge party ensues. You'll see everything from keg's on converted red wagons with sound systems and disco lights to Police escorts bringing those lucky enough with infield parking passes to and from the track.
Saturday morning is the Indianapolis 500 parade, the largest parade I've ever attended. Seats are available for rent that lines the streets, while most people sit in their chairs, or find shaded places to sit or stand while the drivers in Corvette convertibles line the parade route. We go to a particular building that has great ledges to sit on or stand on the window ledge, whatever we feel.
Traveling to and from the Indianapolis 500
We've had some adventures attending the Indianapolis 500, including driving through areas of Indiana with Tornado's touching down within a mile as we crossed into the Illinois border area.
One year I drove a friend's Hummer H2 that I borrowed for the road trip. I did most of the driving while the people riding in the backseat complained of the bumpy ride. I never knew how bad the back seat is until we were almost through Illinois when somebody insisted I ride in the back seat. Not good!
The following year, I purchased a Silver Lincoln Navigator with captains chairs specifically for attending the race. I put it on eBay and sold the vehicle as we were driving home after the Indy 500 while going through Illinois. That Navigator had comfortable seats in every position.
A few years later, I invited another friend who owned a limousine service. His executive vehicle, a customized van is by far the best road trip car for the 500. Cushy captains chairs that reclined, a full-size LCD TV and video system along with Dolby Surround made every seat on the trip an incredible experience.
It's been a few years since I have attended a race, but I'm sure that soon I'll be traveling to every Indianapolis 500 in tradition once again. And this Sunday, I'll be watching the 100th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on television.