One of the major signals that the Indianapolis 500 is about to begin is the balloon release at the end of the singing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana.” As the final notes of the song gradually fade, thousands of multi- colored balloons fill the the sky above the pagoda and float to parts unknown. It is a beautiful site. But for the second year in a row, it will not take place as the Speedway wants to limit the infield to race essential personnel. I get that. The bigger question is, will the balloons ever come back?
There is pressure from environmental groups to stop the balloon release altogether, and the speedway says it is looking into the matter. No matter their decision, someone will be unhappy.
Traditions used to die hard at IMS, but lately it seems that it has become easy to discard some long standing practices. Has the COVId-19 pandemic changed things forever? I think it may have. I could live without the balloon release, although it is one of my favorite parts of the pre-race ceremonies. Perhaps a virtual release shown on the video boards will have to do. We should have an answer to the future of the balloons by this time next year. Meanwhile the fate of this part of 500 tradition is up in the air.
Carb Day: Come In, Watch Cars, Leave
The schedule for Carb Day is simple. Gates are open from 8 am-2 pm. cars are on track from 11-1. There are no other Carb Day activities. I hope for 2022 we can get back to our regular Race Week schedule. It appears the same stands that were open for qualifying will be open tomorrow. I will post the details tomorrow morning.
Race Day: Shortened Pre Race
The race day morning schedule also shows a minimum of activity before the cars fire up to start the race. The program looks like just the bare essentials- National Anthem, invocation, “Taps” “Indiana,”and the command.
I am fine with this I have felt that the pre-race ceremonies have become overly long and drawn out for the last few years, and need to be more condensed. I am not saying to cut any of the elements, except maybe a couple of songs, but as the extended length of the ceremonies really dulls the tense build up to the start of the race.
2022 cannot get here soon enough. Full carb day details tomorrow, and possibly another post later today.