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Des Moines, Iowa


Our Inaugural Indianapolis 500

Geoff Wood

Well, it took two and half years but we finally made it to a race at the Speedway. I was a little tired of telling people that I’ve never taken it in (though we had participated in the festival before)(1) so we knew come rain or shine we would be there for the 91st running.

It turns out that it was rain that came.

The day started early, we met various members of Team KEG downtown about 5:30 AM EDT and caravanned to the track. About 6 AM we were queued up along 16th Street about 1.2 miles from the track(2). At the same time, they opened the gates and began letting cars into the infield. We waited patiently, alternating between windows down and sunroof open enjoying the exhaust of the vehicles all around us to all closed up hiding from the sprinkling rain. After almost exactly two hours we reached the gate and turned into the tunnel. At that exact moment the heavens opened and it poured for the next hour or so. We followed the rest of the cars in to our spot in Turn 3. After ten minutes or so we ventured out in the deluge to unpack the cooler and huddle under Hope’s broken umbrella. The rain did let up and the sun came out. Our group broke out a cornhole(3) set and several chairs and settled in for a quality day of tailgating.

Hope and I in the infield.
The “infield” where we took in the race was a mixture of Jack Trice parking lot and Dotfest(4). It was obviously more than 3 times the size of a tailgate Saturday in Ames but had much the same feel.

Some folks in our group organized a drivers pool and for only $5 I was able to have a car to pull for and pay attention to, throughout the day.

The morning was pretty wet but apparently they kept the track dry enough to start on time. We walked from our tailgate spot up to a hill that was as close to trackside as we could get for the start. We were mixed in with a group of hundreds that ranged from young, pretty, sorority girls to old, fat, bald, WT men. One of our friends, Amanda, told us that the sound of the cars would be like none thing we'd heard and that once you hear it once you’ll crave it again. I think she was right – it was amazing.
Amanda and Hope

We went back and forth a couple times from the hill to our tailgate throughout the early afternoon. At about 3 PM the rain returned. We took shelter in Hope’s Honda for twenty minutes or so before we made for the exit. The race wasn’t necessarily over; it had run more than half the laps so if they couldn’t get the track dry they would call it. It takes two hours to dry the track so we didn’t figure it would hurt if we left.

We made it home in time to watch the tape-delay of the race and see that it did finally resume. I’ve never followed racing but it was really interesting to listen to all the strategery that goes on with teams trying to decide if the race will be called early because of rain or if it will go the distance (and when to pit to maximize their positions).

Dario Franchitti took first and won $1.6 million. My driver, Ryan Briscoe, finished 5th and won $302,305. However, since he didn’t finish first I won $0. I don’t have any particular loyalty to any driver but like most men watching appreciated Dario’s win for the fact that a rain-soaked Ashley Judd was next to him for all the post-race hoopla.

I apologize for posting this picture but it was too classic to not share with the world. This gentleman, wearing only a cowboy hat, sunglasses and speedo, was discreetly sipping on a bag of wine throughout the afternoon.

(1) Carb Day and parade in 2005, parade again in 2006. (2) According to TomTom. (3) That’s really what they call it here – back home it was always “the bean bag game” or simply “bags”. (4)An old concert series in Ankeny