It was a great morning, but a little cool. During the night I turned on the heater to warm the place up a bit. Having electricity is nice. After a quick breakfast of bananas and cereal and coffee and some organization, we were off. The dumps station was a surprise, as all the hardware there was either broken or leaked. During the process, I discovered that the tube for the dump hose, the new one, had its end sheared off during my exit from the Pittsburgh area. The hose can’t fall out of the sheared end, so all will be well until it’s replaced when the back is repaired.
The Indiana countryside is beautiful. The rolling hills, even though they are covered in last year’s corn stubble, look like they are out of a painting. As we traveled west, the fields were covered in a green haze that reminded me of an old man’s beard two days after his last shave, except in green. We had the destination plugged into the GPS’s and, as usual, they argued. I looked at map prior to starting, so I had a general idea of where the streets were, and where we were going, so sometimes I paid attention, sometimes not. We came across an entrance to the speedway with parking, so we headed in. There was some confusion as to whether a RV could park in the same area as cars, and apparently at that time and location; they could not, so we were advised to try lot 2.
A fellow named Ralph came to our rescue as we were driving off. Ralph explained that lot 2 was closed and that we should go the Brickyard Mall. Ralph explained that there was plenty of parking there, the place was out of business, and besides, tell anyone that had anything to say about our parking, “Ralph told you that it was OK!”. It’s just best to go with it sometimes. We drove past soon to be cooking sausage stands, security looking for something to secure, people jack hamming concrete that was a perceived impediment to commerce, and we finally came to the Ralph destination. It was not close to being vacant. In fact, the mall was being rented out by Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) media productions and was the home of the local Command Control Center. The Command Control Center appeared to be composed of the local Sheriff, Indianapolis Police, State Police, State Highway Patrol, and god knows what other important law enforcement agency or groups. We parked next to another motor home that was there for the duration, and took off
It was a short walk to the speedway. There was a funny thing I noticed on the way. The press to walk buttons for the walkways are in a location where you can’t see the traffic light when it changes, and are located on the corner the crosswalks aren’t. Everyone at the Speedway was really nice. It was obvious that we were no longer on the east coast. Once we were in, I called a friend to brag that I was at the Speedway. The friend has tickets for the main event, but couldn’t make it this year, so I wasn’t being as good a friend as I could, but it’s the first time in 36 years I’ve been to the Speedway when something’s going on, so I took advantage.
We took a tour of the Speedway Hall of Fame/Museum and looked at the cars on exhibit. I was surprised that so many of the winning cars from the 70’s, when I attended, were missing and so many of the latest winners were also missing. It’s a really nice museum, and is very Indiana oriented with examples of cars that were manufactured in Indiana, generally as a result of the 500. While we were there we bumped into Sydney West, one of the 2014 Indy 500 ‘Princesses’. She is a very sweet young woman, who is having a great time being a ‘princess’ and doing all the ‘inside’ things for the first time in her life. She said that she was always a big Indy 500 fan, but the behind the scenes things and the potential to return in the future as an ex-princess’ was really exciting. I kidded with her, and asked her what she was going to do for the rest of the summer, after all the excitement in May, and she smiled and laughed, and said that she was doing an internship in Australian with an additional two weeks in New Zealand and then two weeks in Fiji before she retuned to the US and started Grad school. I told her to buy several lottery tickets, because the way things were breaking for her, she was a shoe-in for a big win.
On the way to the grandstands, I saw a woman photographer who seemed to know everyone, and being a bigmouth, after she was finished with the hellos and howdos, I yelled over and asked her who she didn’t know. She turned out to be Anne Miller Carr, a photographer at the Speedway, who had been taking photographs there, and other places for services for over 30 years. Fortunately she was, and is, a really good person, and looked around, saw me, and made the mistake of talking to me. We had a good long talk as Louise, she and I walked to the grandstand. She lived in Speedway, and fell into photography after her children were born, but still very young. The lady is not a braggart at all, but obviously, because she is a nice person, kind and professional, has gotten to know everyone at the track over the years. She struck me as one of those people who treats everyone the same, be they the biggest racing star, team owner, sponsor, or volunteer crossing the fans at the corner. She told some great stories, some of which I could repeat, others not, all straight up and down stories, and really interesting and entertaining. I told her that she should write a book. She replied that I wasn’t the first to tell her that, and said there were plenty of books with stories about the Indy 500. We had a conversation following that, the jist of it being there were plenty of books about the equipment and the records, but that people are interested in the behind the scene, real people things that she was privy to. The type of things that made the ‘important people’ human and understandable people. It was a real treat to meet Anne. The world is a small place; I hope we meet again.
We moved around the track looking for the perfect location to see the action, and I gravitated towards the area where I last sat on a race day. The cars go much faster today than then. The Speedway seems larger. You can’t see the raceway between turn one and two anymore because of construction and penthouse sands. Things change, but the sound and the spectacle and the excitement of watching the cars go by at almost 250 miles per hour is still unchanged. I’ve been maintaining since I was there last, that TV just doesn’t communicate the electricity and the excitement of the event. Louise agreed, even though she isn’t the biggest fan.
We watched the excitement of practice day, and waited through the one crash that slowed things up a little. The official announcement over the PA was that the speed at the track wasn’t important, that the car handling was, but it should have been obvious to anyone watching, that those guys were racing. Racing without letting it all hang out, like you do when you are trying to win more than a million dollars, but they were still racing.
We left at about 2:30 PM and had a nice drive to the campground for the evening, Prairie Creek Park. The traffic was heavy, but it was all moving at a steady 65 (speed limit is 70) and nice and smooth. The truckers out here know how to drive. The park was different than any one we have ever been to before. It’s a first come first served park located south of Terre Haute, Indiana, and most all the camping spots are grass. There are 42 30 amp electric sites, and the park is open from May 1 through the fall. There is neither a kiosk where you check in, nor an information board, asking for your fee, nor a sign indicating what you should do. We located the caretaker’s house and determined that someone shows up sometime after you find and open spot and takes your money. Cash and only Indiana checks are accepted.
The park is small and beautiful. There are playgrounds, several ponds, lakes for fishing/boating and a couple of shower houses. The caretaker, Rhonda Bunch, has only been there for a year, but said that she really likes it. They almost fill up once or twice a year, and she is looking forward to having her ‘regular’s’ show up soon for part of the summer. She says that they are there mostly for the weekends throughout the summer. Another very nice person in a very nice place.
Prior to dinner, we made arrangements to visit family near Omaha. It was a fiddle with the schedule, but visiting them is important. It will be a long all day drive to get there, but it’s just one day. I expect that we’ll stay there for a couple of days.
Dinner was a quick one of chicken, corn, mashed potatoes and salad. I used my cheap propane grill for the first time and it worked well, but I obviously have to modify my cooking technique to accommodate the changes in cooking device. We are off to St Louis tomorrow, and its Bar-B-Que heaven then with the Gateway arch. Promises to be another good day.