I'm counting down the days until the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
I'm not a race fan in the fanatic sense. I've only been to the Indy 500 a handful of times. My memories center around listening to the race on the radio in the backyard while filling out the leading laps grid from the Indianapolis Star.
I do love Indianapolis, tradition, and most of all a theme! Each day I will share a memory or tidbit of history.
In honor of 86 days until the running of the 100th Indy 50 let's talk about 1986's race.
The first time I'd been invited to attend. My first Indy 500.
I was a senior at Purdue, with just one semester until graduation. I was living in Lafayette and waitressing at the Ground Round to cover rent and such. I worked every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Getting my holiday weekend Sunday shift covered involved a series of trades worthy of the major league.
One of the trades included me working the closing shift Saturday night so I was exhausted and bleary-eyed when we arrived at IMS Sunday morning in the rain. The dampness didn't quell my excitement and I jumped right into the mix, drinking cans of Old Milwaukee beer that we'd dragged in our Styrofoam cooler.
We walked around soaking in the soggy sights watching the IMS folks work to dry the track during the break in the rain. Of course none of us had been clever enough to bring a raincoat or umbrella or even the ubiquitous trash bags that everyone else seems to be wearing.
I didn't care. After all it was my first time being at IMS on Race Day, combined with the few hours of sleep and a steady rate of Old Milwaukee's, everything was rosy.
When the race was called off for the day we packed up and drove back to Lafayette and started all over again the next morning. Either we didn't check the forecast or we just didn't care.
I can't remember how long we stayed that day. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. The infield was too muddy to walk through and I think the concession stands were closed. I do remember that by the time we left, I was over it.
I didn't get to go back the next Sunday to see the race when it was finally run...I had to work.