It was Henry Ford who famously said “auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built.”
Roughly twenty-five years after that second car rolled out of the factory, the so-called 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race began at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, that race is obviously known as the Indianapolis 500.
On a recent spring afternoon, this reporter found himself standing on pit row listening to the hum of turbocharged open-wheel rocket ships flying by. Although the big race was still a week away, there were thousands of fans in attendance on a weekday afternoon. Among them was Patrick Krieger who made the sojourn from Ohio to satisfy his inner gear-head.
“Grew up with drag racing,” he shouted to be heard over the piercing sound of the racing engines. “I’m from northwest Ohio so not that far away, but it’s always fascinating. I always watched it every time I could watch!”
Indianapolis firefighter Mark McMahon grew up in the shadow of the speedway and takes a week of vacation each year leading up to the race.
“My mother lives like a block from here and I grew up in Speedway,” he said as he sipped a beer flanked by two friends. “I’ve been out here every year now for about ten years, just as my vacation.”
McMahon went on to compare his IMS vacation to being at the beach. Perhaps that comparison rings true if a beach is molten dreams fused with twin-turbo V-6 engines flashing down straightaways on a sun-splashed raceway.