Sunday, May 25, 2008

Race Day Thoughts

This morning I did my patriotic Memorial Day weekend duty and watched the 92nd running of the Indy 500. Well, for the first 150 laps or so anyway. Today it was mostly for nostalgia's sake that I watched/listened, but there were many years where I had a keen interest in the race and racing in general.
When I was a kid, I remember listening to the race on the radio, because there was some sort of prohibition to showing it live on the tee-vee. That was back in the days when it was governed under the control of USAC. The weekend after the Indy 500 the series would move to the Wisconsin State Fair Park's one mile oval track. This was always interesting if there happened to be any "unfinished business" from the previous week. The Fair Park was close to our house and we could hear the cars. My dad would take us to the track on Saturday for the time trials. Back then, racing wasn't all that popular, and the time trials were free to watch. We were dumb kids--we didn't know it wasn't a REAL race.
In the 80's and 90's I was a pretty avid race fan. The series was then known as CART and the hot drivers at the time were Michael and Mario Andretti, Little Al Unser, the Mears brothers, Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, and Emerson Fittipaldi to name a few. I would go to the Long Beach Grand Prix and Laguna Seca here in California, and sometimes travel back to see races at Milwaukee, Road America and Michigan International Raceway.
The schism between CART and IRL in 1995 coincided with my move back to California and a time of no tee-vee or cable, so I sort of drifted away from the sport. This year saw the dissolution of the CART series and again there will be only one series.
I watched about an hour of the pre-race broadcast, which I thought had a few well-done segments. One about the very real danger/injury facet of racing was interesting. Two faces from the past, Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear are now doing commentary. It was really freaky to see Michael Andretti's son Marco as a driver. Now I know I'm getting old!
Who knows, maybe now that there is only one series I'll get back into being a race fan again.

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