This year marks the 100th running of the Indy 500. The first race was 1911. The 500 wasn’t held in 1917, 1918, 1942, 1943, and 1945 due to world wars. My first introduction to the race was in…
As a child, I remember names like Bill Vukovich, Roger Ward, and Jimmy Bryant. At one time my father was a commentator on a local radio program before the race. I don’t know what he knew about racing, but he was funny. At least, I thought so. While reminiscing it occurred to me that I’ve listened, watched, or attended more than one-half of the 100 Indy 500’s.
My first Indy car hero was Bobby Marshman. He sat in the front row of the 1964 race and had a chance to win it until he bottomed out, in turn one, and lost the oil pan. He died later that year testing tires at another track. I remember listening to Sid Collins announce the race as my family gathered in our backyard with the grill ablaze.
I’m not so certain about the first race I attended, but I think it was 1968, the 52nd running. I was a teenager. The infield was a revelation. I saw things I’d never imagined. I saw some of the race. Bobby Unser won. Joe Leonard drove the STP Turbine. Jim Hurtubise piloted the last roadster, a front engine machine, in the 500. He dropped out after 9 laps.
In 1973, I lived in Massachusetts. It was the 57th running. I had Gordon Johncock in the office pool. I won. So did he. After being delayed by rain for several days, the event was rain shortened at 133 laps. It was not a good month at the track. It was filled with tragedy.
I’ve sat through rain, snow flurries, parade lap crashes, and loss of life. I’ve walked on 16th street when cars parked in the middle of the road stopping all traffic. I’ve been part of the snake pit and a dedicated fan in K section. I’ve watched the race from a television network suite—2006—great finish.
The years have added up
After all these years and all these races one might think I would become jaded. Not so, I’ll be attending again this year, same seats as last year, third row from the top, in turn three. I’ll get there early to enjoy the pageantry, and I’ll enjoy the day like it was 1968. Well…sort of. I’m a bit older—not so sure about wiser. One hundred— Wow! If you’d like to learn more about the 100th running and the history of the event, go to Indianapolis Motor Speedway history.