The city’s heart and soul vanished Sunday, stolen by the pandemic that dictates our lives nowadays. Race Day 2020 was not to be. Having the circadian rhythms of your life abruptly altered is a jarring experience. In Indiana, we are programmed for this day.
I awoke suddenly at 4 am, my usual race day rising time, then went back to sleep for a couple hours. I felt I should be somewhere, should get the cooler loaded, should meet my friends for breakfast. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, ” I would be entering the track now; I’d be heading to my seat now; It’s time for the opening ceremonies to start.”
Yesterday was the first time I had eaten breakfast at home on the fourth Sunday in May since sometime in the 1990s. A check of social media showed me that many of my friends were feeling the same way I was. feeling – lost. Watching the 2006 race on You Tube provided some solace. There may have been some dust in my eyes at the playing of”Taps’ and “Back Home Again in Indiana.” The Indianapolis Motor Speedway website’s #500AtHome link had some content as well.
Around noon I went to a friend’s house for a small birthday celebration. On the drive I listened to the 2016 race on WIBC. I passed the track on the way and saw several groups of people gathered on the plaza in front of Gate 1. Most had lawn chairs and coolers.
It was comforting to be with some of my racing family for a couple hours. We watched the beginning of the NBC show, “Back Home Again.” The porch was silent during “Taps.” We discussed the August date and what other races we might attend. None of us can be sure any of the race dates are certain, but there was an air of hope.
I went back to Gate 1. The crowd had thinned considerably. Someone had the radio on. It was last year’s race playing at this point.
On Main Street, things were a bit more lively. All the outside tables at Dawson’s were full. Down the street people were just sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk, talking. I ran into a couple of friends there. The highlight for me was seeing this vehicle.
After all, what is Race Day without a salute to the past?
In spite of the few hours of time with friends and at the track entrance, it was a day I hope I never have to go through again. There aren’t many people alive who remember the last time, 75 years ago, when there wasn’t a race on Memorial day weekend.
As for August, we need to keep hoping the race will run, but I can’t see how the Speedway can allow a huge group of fans at that time. We have to hope that something will break like the rain on race morning gives way to to a sunny perfect race day.