Friday, May 30, 2008

the 92nd indy 500 in bits and pieces: carb day

God don’t make little green apples, and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime…

On Carb Day it rained. We made it to the inside of the track a little late and missed the 12 minutes of practice that the drivers got on the track. There was not pit stop competition (which is a shame because I was really hoping to see Helio and his “Penske Perfect” crew climb the fence). The Indy Lites Firestone Freedom 100 was postponed. And my shoes and socks got sopping soaking gushy wet.

During some of the rain out we sat and visited with Jeff (My Name is IRL) and his kids, P1 & P2.Then we wandered around the plaza and the various trackside gift shops. Some classic Indy Cars (driven by Rick Mears & Emerson Fittapaldi, for example) were set up under a tent in the infield. Most were privately owned and did not belong to the Hall of Fame and Museum. While John wandered around the tent I stood on the edge of being covered and had a view of the side/rear of the Carb Day concert stage where Stone Temple Pilots was performing. There have been a few bands that have performed on Carb Day that I’ve really wanted to see. But I have not wanted to see these bands badly enough to put up with two of my pet peeves 1) Crowds 2) Crowds of drunk people. Add in my wet shoes and the rain…and there was no way I was crossing over to the fenced infield area to get a good view of STP. So these are the best pictures I got of Scott Weiland and band.
John and I head back towards the Plaza via the south side of Gasoline Alley so that we can head through the tunnel and visit the stands were we’ll be sitting on race day. Why? So John can take pictures. Taking pictures of everything is just something the men in his family do. We’re going to sit there on race day. But first we have to take pictures from the empty and WET stands. Anyhow, we’re walking along the other side of the fence around the garages when John grabs my arm and brings my attention to a man dressed in all black carrying some bags walking with a largish, tallish man carrying an umbrella. It was Helio. John is practically dragging me towards the exit of the garage area but I am frozen. I am at a total loss for words. I cannot and will not speak to Helio, my IRL boyfriend. As if trying to shock myself out of the moment I noticed Bobby Rahal (TOTAL ASIDE: 1986 Indy 500 Champ, Bobby Rahal. Father of Graham. Owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, winner of the 2005 Indy 500 with driver Buddy Rice. And the man who John and I spotted in downtown Indy the day after the 2005 race, when we knew he was getting ready to head back to the track for the awards banquet, and who John and I kind of shadowed for a few yards until he made his way into a parking garage stairwell at which time John yelled up, “Excuse me Mr. Rahal, we just wanted to say congratulations!”. I have never let John live this down. And nearly EVERY time Bobby Rahal appears on the TV or computer screen I say to John, “Excuse me Mr. Rahal”. Heck, even if John is not with me I will say “Excuse me Mr. Rahal” to myself.) So, I notice Bobby Rahal. I look at John and point and, “Excuse me Mr. Rahal.” But John is still dragging me towards Helio. I am telling John I am not going to talk to Helio. It was a total Amy Grant in the Green Hills movie theater restroom moment. And I was not going to tell Helio that I’m a really big fan and have all his records. So, I let him get away.After John was finished taking pictures of the empty stands we headed west back to his brother’s house so that I could change my shoes and socks and dry my jeans before we headed to the 1st Annual Carb Night Burger Bash (CNBB) with Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star. We got to the Plainfield 96th Street Steakburgers location a little late. And we learned that we missed very special guest, Pole Sitter Scott Dixon. As in the guy that went on to win the race. Yep. He was visiting with people and taking pictures and sitting around eating a burger. But the night was still really wonderful. Curt Cavin writes a blog in which he answers readers questions. And through this the conversation began about the best place to get a burger in Indy…which lead to the best place to get burgers and other foods at various race cities across the country. And this lead to the Carb Night Burger Bash which became a fundraiser for some really wonderful area schools. John’s mom joined us for supper and we purchased special fundraiser milkshakes in special CNBB souvenir cups. An auction of such items as a Tony Kanaan race suit, a helmet signed by many drivers, and an autographed and framed Dancing With the Stars Helio poster, raised several thousand dollars. Afterwards Curt stood around in the cool and damp and just chatted with a group of us. He was kind and generous with his time. And was very candid and entertaining. I will not forget that night for a long time to come. That Curt Cavin is a stand-up kind of guy. Must be something about that corn sweetened air.

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