Travel, Etc. --> A Visit to The Speedway
A Visit to The Speedway
Sightseeing in your own city...
In case you haven't figured it out by reading our newsletter, we're born tourists... and we love being tourists in or near our own hometown. So on the last Sunday in April, we decided to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, somewhere we had not been in longer than either of us could remember. When we checked the web site, we discovered that they were offering a grounds tour that day, so Linda signed us up.
I have to confess, I was a serious gear head in my youth. I read world champion Grand Prix driver Sterling Moss' book All But My Life when I was 14 and I was hooked on racing (I think the parts about all the women may have interested me too). I attended my first 500 at 15 and saw at least 20 more before I "grew up" and got too busy to pay attention. I can still remember my friends and me cutting school, stopwatch and camera in hand, to watch our heroes, Jim Clark and Graham Hill, practice in their Lotus Fords for the 1965 Indy 500.
After we came home on Sunday, I visited the attic and found a box of pictures I had taken in the mid sixties and had not looked at in at least thirty years. It was then that I remembered how good we got at sneaking into the pits and garage area. If you had enough stop watches, cameras and light meters draped around your neck, and waited until plenty of whistles were blowing for cars being pushed through pit lane, getting in at 16 was not a problem.
The 90 minute grounds tour is offered about 66 days a year for $25 and includes museum admission. The tour includes a trip around the track that culminates at the yard of bricks. It was obvious on the bus that we were the only Indianapolis natives since the crowd seemed to be split 50/50 between NASCAR fans who couldn't wait get their pictures taken kissing the yard of bricks and French, Italian and Spanish speaking tourists who had no idea what the kissing was all about.
And, it is pretty daunting to stand in the middle of that track and imagine 33 cars sharing it at 220 miles an hour.
After the bricks, we visited the timing-and-scoring suite in the Pagoda, the Media Center, Victory Podium and the Gasoline Alley garage area. This was the first time I had been to the Speedway since the new Pagoda was built and saw the suites and track front garages that were added for the U.S. Grand Prix. It's all pretty impressive, and now my inner 16 year old gear head really regrets not taking the time to see one of the Grand Prix races when they were here.
Our very knowledgeable guide had plenty of stories, anecdotes and history to share as we toured the cavernous-timing-and-scoring and media centers. You could only imagine what the tower suites looked like when Ferrari used them and they were decked out in all red and yellow, and their imported chefs prepared wine and food for them to enjoy. More photo opportunities followed in the post race press conference room and on victory podium, and finally a drive through the garage area and a return to the museum.
And, the museum is certainly worth seeing. The collection contains more race winning cars than I would care to count, antique motorcycles, Craig Breedlove's jet powered land speed record car and many rare, very rare race cars.
A great example is this Mercedes Benz 1954 W196 formula one car once driven by 5 time world champion Juan Fangio. Regarded by many as the finest race car ever built, I jokingly told Linda that it was probably the most valuable car in the collection. I may have been right! I Googled the W196 the next day and found one for sale for only $24 million dollars!
So, if you are looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, try being a tourist in your own backyard. The entire IMS facility is very impressive and since my own inner gear head resurfaced two years ago when I impulsively adopted an eight year old Aston Martin, the pull is back. I see a few more races in our future...
May 23, 2012