Dan's 1998 Indy 500 Journal
Dan's IndySpeedway.com

My 1998 Indy 500 Journal

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Sunday, May 10th - Opening Day

My uncle from Atlanta popped into town this weekend and he agreed to go with me to the track. He hadn't been since the 1950's! He had a good time and wants to try and come back for the race in two weeks.
It was a gorgeous day and we arrived at 10 a.m. to catch the Opening Day Ceremonies. This consisted of sitting around the Winner's Circle by the starting line up in the bleachers. There was a line of Purple Corvette Pacecars almost the entire length of the pit lane (which I'd guess to be 3/4 of a mile, so, a lot of Vettes). They introduced the 500 princesses and queen and they each got chauffered in their own Vette. Tony George and various other people gave some speeches. Tom Carnegie, the Voice of the 500, was the emcee. Parnelli Jones was there and he spoke, then he got into an old race car (1962?) that he had driven in the 500 decades ago and did some laps. Every day this week, various 500 Champions will be doing likewise. Meanwhile, various teams began bringing their cars out from the garages. Soon enough it was 11 a.m. and they began practice.
My uncle couldn't spend the entire day and I wanted him to see things so we left the grandstands and began walking toward the 4th turn and around the track.

I had brought a flask of Jim Beam with me in case they didn't sell liquor on Sunday. I couldn't remember. There's a law about that in Indiana. You have to serve food or you can't serve liquor. Anyway I found they begin selling beer at noon. I bought a Pepsi which cost $2 for a 16 oz glass.

We walked up to the 4th turn and around to the 3rd. There wasn't many people there that day. Also many of the stands were closed including the whole outside, which I was disapointed in because you can see alot better from the outside of the oval. Anyway we sat on the inside of the back straight for awhile as the cars test and tuned. They got up to 219 mph that day. Last years poll speed was 218, so they've improved some.

There is a pretty large viewing mound they added a few years ago to the fourth turn. They've put a huge one in on the back straight that runs about the entire distance. Saw a couple guys playing golf on the course there in the infield. The course goes onto the outside of the track too. I had wondered how they got back and forth. Well they have a road for golf carts that is just like the tunnels for the cars, except there not as wide so you can't drive a car thru there. This tunnel is on the east side of the track.

Anyway, we headed over to FanFest and checked out all the displays. Its nice to do this on a day like this where they are not real busy. I bought some shirts and a hat. Official stuff is a little pricey but good quality. My baseball cap cost $20 and the t-shirts were $18-20. I got a pin for $6 and the official program which comes with some stickers, for $10. There were alot of shops not affiliated with IMS though. I finally saw a bunch of merchandise for the drivers. However I couldn't find anything for Scott Goodyear, who is probably my favorite driver. This is probably because he switched teams and his new team is a brand new team - Panther Racing. However, by signing up for a Mastercard, I got a free t-shirt and my card will have a picture of Scott Goodyear on it. They have a stage setup where a band plays and tables around it so you can sit and eat while listening to live music. Even though FanFest is outside (all the displays are in tents) you can't smoke inside there.

As we left for the day, I noticed they built a cool looking new building on the outside of the track at the corner of Georgetown and 16th street. I believe its a ticket office and maybe a museum. I'll try to check it out sometime this month.

Well, I got to go back to work for the week, so hopefully I'll be back this weekend for Qualifications.

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Sunday, May 17th

Well, due to some heavy partying on Friday night, I missed the first day of Qualifications, but I was up early today and headed out. I decided to enter on 30th street this time and didn't have any problems with traffic. Practice was just beginning and I went to check out exactly where my seats are for the race this year. Well they had the NorthEast Vista closed off and so I had to walk back around to the front and stare from across the track. Luckily I could read the section number. Man, I am going to have GREAT seats! They have a tv camera right by where I'll be sitting and I should be able to see all the way down the back straight and the whole 4th turn and 3rd turn, just like last year.

Anyway I hiked all the way over to the Gasoline Alley Cafe to meet some friends. They showed up on time and we decided to sit in the outside of the first turn. We eventually ended up climbing the stairs that go up to the Penthouse E seats which cost $140 on race day. It is an AWESOME place to sit. We could see the car coming all the way down the straightaway and thru turn 1 and into 2. We also had a roof, so the super hot sun that was out today was not cooking us. What was really neat was that as a car roared by, it echoed in these huge metal stands real loud and the seats vibrate. Beautiful.

All went smoothly until Scott Harrington's engine blew as he was heading my direction. A giant banner of white smoke plumed behind him drenching the stands, and eventually the roads behind us outside the track, in the smoke and smell of burnt oil. I thought it smelled good. (I love the smell of napalm in the morning.) Of course the oil sprayed his tires and he ended up spanking the wall. He got out right away and shook his fist in frustration. The crowd cheered for his safety. It probably took a half hour of cleanup before qualifying could continue.

Having liked the whiskey idea from a week ago, I once again brought a flask and just purchased cokes to mix with. I really like not having to lug a heavy cooler around all day. Eventually my flask was empty. My friend Steve was out and they were doing a track inspection, so we decided to hike to my car which was in the middle of the 4th turn. I had a 2 liter of whiskey in my trunk.

They've really worked at reducing the 'party area'. But there were still people lined up along the road inside the 4th turn and there were still bands of cops roving about. I decided to pull my car up to the front row there and finish the day off getting some sun. I met 3 guys who were sitting around drinking and smoking and sitting on coolers. You couldn't see any cars from down there due to the long hill they build all along the fourth turn. I made a drink and set my bottle on my hood up by my windshield. About 6 cops came over and told me to remove it. I guess because you are not supposed to bring glass bottles. Anyway I left shortly after that. That hot sun mixed with a little alcohol can really take it out of you. I crashed as soon as I got home.

Well, back to work for 3 days, then back to the track for Carb day!

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May 21 1998 - Carb Day

A beautiful hot sunny day greeted us as Jay and I headed to the track in my Talon with Rich following behind in his 96 Vette Convertible. It was around 9:30. We were hoping to catch the full 2 hour practice that runs from 11 to 1. You never know what to expect about parking at the Track. We came in on 16th street from the West. We should have made a left at Georgetown and we could've gotten into the track pretty quickly. Instead, we drove straight. The line to get in from 16th Street was miles long, so we circled north and came in on 30th. The line was about a 1/2 mile long, then you have to wait on the driveway line which is about 1/3 mile long. We ended up sitting for hours :-(

waiting in line
Inside the track, but still waiting in line

Once inside the speedway, the Yellow-shirts are directing traffic. This idiot in front of me got too excited and ended up hitting a yellow-shirt and hurt his leg. This really pissed the guy off and he tore the special tag out of his car and called another yellow-shirt over. They finally directed him off somewhere.

tower

I finally got parked and headed over to the 4th turn to meet up with Jay who had ditched me and my car earlier, preferring to foot it to the track. We walked up to Gasoline Alley and the pits. Got to see Arie. I got to see about 45 minutes of practice. After ward, we skipped the pit crew competition and went to party in the 4th turn since it was such a nice day out.

The partiers were out in force! Lots of bikinis. Click HERE or HERE to go view photos. Sure a change from last Sunday. The cops were out some, but they weren't too bad. We saw 2 different women take off their tops. One girl came over and layed up on Rich's Vette and flashed us. Jay shot the whole day on video.

Finally I had enough and Jay and I left. Rich stayed on trying to pick up girls. He showed up at my house later, not having any luck.

It was a very fun day even though we didn't get to see much track activity.

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May 24, 1998 - Race Day!

I awoke at 6:00 a.m. expecting a giant green splotch to be covering Indianapolis on the weather station's radar. However, the green splotch was north and east of the track, so, good news! I got my Detroit friends up and we got our gear together and finally hit the road at 7:45. I-465 was noticably busy. We got off on the 10th street exit and was soon stopped in traffic. We made a left at Lynhurst and then a right at 16th street without much trouble. We then went left on Georgetown. I didn't think that entrance would be open, but it was. We cruised right in while hundreds waited in line at 30th and 16th street entrances. There were thousands of people on foot making their way to the speedway. You have to keep your eyes open when maneuvering around all of these people.

We parked in the 3rd turn which was great because are tickets were for the NorthEast Vista. We went for a walk around the 4th turn to see guys setting up for race.



These 4th-turners got themselves elevated to see over the viewing mound. They had a HUGE tarp which as it ended up, they never needed because it never rained.






These guys had an official state sign that they had reworded so that it read "Official Female Inspection Station".
Note the monster head mounted on high.


98 VW

Then we walked up towards the Main Grandstand area where we found this cute little UnOfficial Pace Car.



We continued south and we found the tent where they keep all of the balloons that they release right before the start of the race. They had a semi beside it which pulled a trailer with these 4 huge helium tanks. It was as long as a normal semi trailer. Wow, if only the Germans had had this truck for the Hindenburg.

We went back to the car and geared up for going to our seats. Jay and ET had a cooler with a mini keg in it. I had a sports cup and a flask of whiskey. I also took an umbrella and a rain jacket. The clouds were super low and it was kind of misty out.

We made it to our seats and we heard the roar of 4 jet fighters flying over, but we couldn't see them due to the low cloud cover. Our seats were incredible. We could see over half the track. You can't get much better than this!

We heard Jim Nabors (Gomer) sing "Back Home Again In Indiana" as he does every year.

Jim Nabors sings

Lyrics to BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA

Written in 1917, Words by Ballard MacDonald, Music by James Hanley

[verse 1]
I have always been a wand'rer, over land and sea.
Yet a moonbeam on the water, casts a spell o'er me.
A vision fair I see, again I seem to be.

[chorus]
Back Home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thro' the sycamores for me
The new mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
Then I long for my Indiana home.

[verse 2]
Fancy paints on mem'ry's canvas,
Scenes that we hold dear
We recall them in days after,
Clearly they appear.
And often times I see, a scene that's dear to me.

[chorus]

A 500 Tradition

Then the archdiosese of Indianapolis gave a prayer and then we waited while the jet engines on trailers finished drying the track. About a 1/2 hour late, they brought the cars out for a few warmup laps. They had 5 C5 Vettes pacing the field. They began going very slowly, around 40 mph. I was afraid this slow pace was going to cause some accidents, but on the last warmup lap they had started speeding up.

The race started out pretty slow due to a car spinning out on the 1st lap. I think it was Yeley and Cheever, or maybe Raul Boesel. Whoever it was they evidently didn't hit anything and was soon back with the pack. The big wreck of the day happened right infront of me.


Jim Guthrie "Ouch"
Photo by Jeff Barrie

Guthrie was one of 5 people who was in the wreck. Only he got hurt, breaking his elbow, leg, and ribs. 'Course he practically hit the wall head on.

It didn't seem to me that there were any other wrecks. There were 11 yellows, but mainly due to car breakdowns. The race progressed to the end with Eddie Cheever winning it. Buddy Lazier came in second about 3 secs behind. My driver, Scott Goodyear had a dismal day with clutch problems. During the race, the weather just kept getting better and better till we wound up with clear skies and sunshine. Wow, sure didn't expect that!

I noticed alot more people had headphones on this year. People had scanners, radios, tv's and cd players. I was sitting at the top of the stands and I couldn't hear Tom Carnegie over the loud speaker system and I wished I had a radio so I could tell what was happening. Oh well...

Here is the view I had from my seats in the NorthEast Vista, Section 13, row PP (2nd row from the top):


Looking Left


Looking Straight Ahead


Looking Right

After the race was finished, people began leaving. We made our way slowly through this mass of humanity and back into the infield to our car to restock supplies.

Me, Jay & E.T.
Me, Jay & E.T. after the 500

We wandered around the 3rd turn checking out the crazy people and acting a little crazy ourselves.

Suddenly, a group of guys started yelling at us. They said if we gave them $5, we could wrestle the midget and be on Howard Stern. I turned around to look at them and sure enough, a little dwarf was standing over there with them. But pay them? Whatever. They were obviously snockered. We continued on over to the 4th turn.

While coming out of the restroom in the 4th turn, some chick was going into the men's restroom. Well, I've seen that almost every year at the track. Why some girls like venturing into the mens restroom is beyond me, but when she came out, she was pscyched up and she; well, just take a look...


Indy in May. :-)

About two hours after the race was over, the cops began going around and telling people to leave. The horrendous traffic jam had abated and we loaded up and left with no problems.

My friends enjoyed the race and the weather turned out great. We came home and crashed at 6 pm, not awaking until 7 a.m. this Memorial Day morning. They took off to play golf, leaving me to clean up the pile of dirty dishes and trash from a weekend of partying. Oh well....

The End.

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