My 1999 Indy 500 Journal
May 30, 1999 - Race Day
As usual, Jay and E.T. drove down from Detroit to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Indy. Cook-outs, caving, golf, drinking and go-karts were some of the pre-race activities we enjoyed this year. My neighbor cruised Speedway last night. He said a lot of partying was going on on Georgetown Road and the cops were being cool.
By race morning, we were sore and tired, but we got an early enough start. We left for the track about 7:30 a.m. We attempted to enter into the infield from Georgetown Road, but the entrance was closed. We ended up parking just west of the track in someone's yard for $25. After having sucked down our drinks while spending a hour and a half in traffic, we were glad to see the resident had provided a clean porta-john in their driveway.
Street vendors lined Georgetown Road, most selling t-shirts and hats, some selling food and drink. You could hear that a country music concert was being performed under one tent.
We walked around inside the infield and saw that they did not use the tore-up 4th turn for parking as I wondered they might, however they did let people walk through most of it. We walked along the new F1 track and imagined that Michael Schumacher will be screaming along our path in a year's time. Some guy with no shirt, a beer belly and a bunch of tattoos passed me. He had "Indy 500" tattooed on his stomach! Wow.
Somehow we got into the area where the race teams park their rigs. It was about an hour before race time and I snapped this picture of Raul Boesel.
We had a long walk to get to our seats in the outside of turn 3. As we approached the north exit, the B2 Stealth Bomber lazily flew over our heads. It was so awesome. When its coming at you, its just a thin line. Here is a picture of it as it flew right over my head. I'm glad its on our side!
After that, 4 F14 Tomcats did a flyby. We made it to our seats just in time for the parade lap....
The skies cleared up and the race was ran under a lot of hot sun. There was also quite a bit of wind, which was good for me up in the stands, but not so good for the drivers. I felt sorry for all the people in the 3rd turn infield - they only had 1 refreshment stand(!) and the line was long for it all day (see next picture)
Throughout most of the race, there were huge throngs of partiers in the 3rd turn all grouped together. Although I couldn't see what was going on, I knew some there must be some girls raising their shirts. They were left undisturbed untill late in the day when two cops on Harley's road into the center of them to break things up. This race day was so different in the infield than past races - No one partying in the 4th turn and no brigade of police patrolling.
Arie and Greg Ray were really running strong. Kenny Brack and Scott Goodyear were among those keeping pace. I was surprised to see Arie crash. It was perhaps the biggest crash of the day and happened in front of me in the 3rd turn. It was a pretty safe race with few yellow flags for wrecks. I would later see on tv where a pit crew member of Robby McGehee's Energizer team got hit by another teams car, as it was hit by yet another car whose brakes had failed. The crew chief got flipped upside down, hurt and sent to the hospital. [A few weeks later he was released from the hospital.]
Greg Ray pulled a major blooper when pulling out of the pits. He charged right into the upper pit lane nailing Dismore. Dismore was able to continue (and hit the wall later) but Greg Ray's day was over. Team Menard had really prepared him a good car. Poor John Menard has got to be p.o.'d over that one!
After Ray and Luyendyk retired, it was a battle between Kenny Brack, Robby Gordon and Jeff Ward. Robby Gordon was leading and it looked like he had it won. Then, with less than 2 laps to go, he ran out of fuel!! Oh my, how awful for him and poor old John Menard (again). Brack picked up the lead and made A.J.'s day.
On the last lap, I felt a few sprinkles. Then a short time later, as the fans headed for their cars, it began to rain! We stayed in the stands and waited on the crowds to disperse. As you can see from this next photo, it was quite crowded...
Suddenly Jay remembered that he had left the top down on his Mustang!!"
Oh well, it was too late now. We eventually headed into the infield after about everyone had left. We walked over to the 4th turn infield and sat down next to this tree and stared out at the empty 4th turn and the new F1 course...
This was an awesome race this year, one of the best I've seen and I give it the Thumbs Up!
When we got back to the car, we discovered that the person who had rented us a parking space in their yard had taken a tarp and put over Jay's car, keeping the inside dry. Yes! We were very grateful as we spent a long time in that car trying to get out of Speedway. (Note: do not try to use side streets to get out! Hop on the first major road you can!)
I'll see you all at the Brickyard!.
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