A few years ago I traveled with my little brother to visit one of our sisters in Indiana. We’ve visited many times before for family reunions, graduations, first communions and to attend the Indy 500.
I was never a racing fan but when you have friends or family that live in Indianapolis, inevitably, you end up going to “the race”. That’s all it took and I was hooked. My first race was 2001, Sarah Fisher was the only woman in the race that year and of course I had to cheer for her, because, chicks have to stick together. Since that first race we have been back 5 times and every time it is still a thrill; the mass of people converging on one place, people laughing and talking about their favorite team or favorite driver, the same street hawkers and evangelizers back every time trying to sell you a trinket, t-shirt or god.
During our fall visit the three of us were sitting around the kitchen with a small TV on in the corner listening to the last race of the year in Las Vegas, when a terrible crash occurred just a few minutes into the race. Dan Weldon had to be air-lifted out of the track, it was bad, it would be announced that he had died a short while later. It was my brother who wanted to go lay some flowers at the gate of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the next day.
We ended up there with several dozen other fans who wanted to pay their respects. It was a sad day, he had left a young family, he was so young and he was such a great personality on the race circuit. Even though he was only in a few races that year he won the Indy 500 in a crazy finish that had a rookie crashing in the wall in the fourth turn of that last lap to give Dan the win. He will always be one of my favorite drivers.
After we had laid the flowers, talked to several other mourners and watched in sadness the growing memorial we decided to go tour the speedway and the museum and to see Dan’s face on the trophy.
In all my visits I had never gone to the museum or toured the speedway. The museum includes so many cars from the nearly 100 years of racing at the track, pictures of all the past winners and the Borg-Warner Trophy with each of the past winners faces on it.
The picture above is of Dan in victory circle celebrating his win and the trophy behind it.
When you go on the tour you also get to tour the track, the press boxes and the coolest part actually go out on to the track. They aways stop at the “yard of bricks” so you can take a picture and touch the bricks. My little brother and I had to kiss the bricks, just like the winners of the races do. My sister laughed as she took our picture.
It was a sad day, but one filled with love and appreciation for my family.