Monday, July 16, 2007

if a picture speaks a thousand words ...

... here are 2,000
The second one is a little Celebrity DUI Mugshot-esque. But I promise I was completely sober. Just tired.
Late Saturday afternoon Johnny G. and I headed to the Nashville Super Speedway (which is actually in Wilson Co. near Gladeville) for the Indy Car race. As we were parking I wondered out loud who in the IRL thought it was a good idea to schedule a race in The South in the heat and humidity of July. Even though it’s a night race the air gets rather stagnant. Why not swap out a racetrack with a milder summer clime and put the Nashville and Kentucky races in say, March? Oh, that’s right. We have unpredictable weather that time of year. That’s when we’re likely to get freak snows or pop-up thunderstorms. And we all know rain and racing on ovals don’t mix.

Do you know what happened Saturday night? It rained.

No sooner had the drivers been announced, the invocation prayed, and the National Anthem sung then a few splatters of rain began to sprinkle down upon the stands. Spectators looked to the skies and noticed that behind the grey clouds overhead there were more grey clouds. Then the bottom fell out. The track was soaked and so were the fans. The stands emptied out fast. Only we discovered that, unlike the Scared Ground of Motorsport-the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the stands are mostly metal with large gaps and the rain just poured right through. John and I split up and I eventually found myself taking shelter in a women’s restroom along with approximately 50 other women and children.

I picked a patch of concrete floor and cinder block wall and settled in. Then I discovered that I had picked the wrong location to quietly wait out the rain. To my right were two ladies from Indianapolis, we’ll call them “Terry” and “Pat”, who were quite the talkers! I got the impression that they attend as many IRL races as possible. And I quickly realized they felt as if they knew more about it all than I did. Or the whole room combined, for that matter. I just listened for the most part. I learned that "Pat" has a fascination with team owner and former/sometimes driver, Eddie Cheever, Jr., and she buys him Rachel’s potato chips whenever possible. I think I even heard her blame him for her Red Bull habit (Red Bull is a former Cheever Racing sponsor). I heard about their cats and dog. We talked a little about F-1 not coming back to Indy in 2008. Then I got them talking to one another how about much they know about open wheel racing and I made my escape to the other end of the restroom.

As I leaned against a wall near the door at the other end of the restroom a girl dressed in full “Hit Me Baby One More Time” Britney Spears garb and strapy metallic high heels burst into the room, beer in hand, calling out, “Linda! LINDA! Linda! Where are you, LINDA!??!?!?!” From the other end of the restroom Linda replied, “I’m looking for you, Drunk Britney Spears!”

It was getting rather muggy so I stepped out to check on the rain and spotted John standing by a picnic table. We realized it had stopped raining and we could probably head back to our seats.
People began to file back in and we were ready to get racing. I learned this weekend that concrete dries much faster than asphalt. It didn’t take long for those huge very LOUD track dryers to do their job. I would say the track was about 95% dry when we began to feel drops of rain again. Most people optimistically remained seated hoping this was a light shower that would pass quickly.We were wrong.

As the rains began to fall heavier and heavier the stands were once again left mostly bare. John and I discussed making a run to the car where we could wait things out and take off our soggy shoes and socks. But the rain fell harder and we sought refuge in a set of restrooms on the ground level. This restroom was less crowded. But housed a group of smokers who were robbing the rest of us of our oxygen, which was already at a premium.

The rains let up and John and I rested at a picnic table until the rains began for a third time.

An announcement was made that we were all calling it a night and could come back tomorrow at Noon and try again.

Ladies and Gentlemen were not called to “start your engines”.

Not one lap had been run.

Soggy and exhausted we headed to the car.

Sunday it was hot, humid, and sunny. We had one brief rain shower as we were approaching lap 100. But under a yellow the cars never left the track. That little bit of rained and heavy clouds cooled things down for a short period of time. The clouds passed and we got back to some green flag racing. Dario owned the track for much of the race. But in the end one of my least favorite drivers, Scott Dixon, took home the Gibson Guitar trophy, his second in as many years.

One of the more entertaining moments of the weekend was this kid rocking out as Bon Jovi’s “Have a Nice Day” played over the P.A.

I got a little too much sun on my face yesterday. And my tennis shoes are still drying from Saturday night. Overall, the 2007 Nashville race was rather memorable. But I’d almost rather forget it ever happened.

Then I remember the kindly woman at the cash registar of the merch tent yesterday who said to us, "It's good to be alive, isn't it?" She really put things back into perspective for me. My shoes will dry. My sunburn will fade. Nobody was injured. And Sarah Fisher, at least, finished the race.


John said...

Terry and Pat...nice. Great job of capturing the weekend! I knew from the '04 "500" that I'd look back fondly on this, so I tried to ignore the squishy shoes and just enjoy the absurdity of the moment. It never occurred to me before this year that there was nothing between the seats and the ground below – nowhere to take shelter but the restrooms. Doesn't it seem strange now? And like you said, where WOULD they put us if a tornado came through? I'm glad it was just us two. Some of those poor souls laid out 60 bucks for each of their kids and themselves, all for the privilege of buying $6 hot dogs and $4 cokes. The timing of the prayer, the anthem and the first rain...Not one lap of racing Saturday...What else can you do but laugh? The Bon Jovi kid was AWESOME! They could film him and set it to "I Am Indy" for TV spots. I am thankful for every year we see THAT guy but don't have to sit by him. In fact I kinda think of this event as somebody else's family reunion. Glad we got to crash it together again.

Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. said...

Awww, thanks John. That was sweet.