Days like yesterday are the reason why the Indianapolis Motor Speedway proudly calls itself ‘The Racing Capital of the World.’
On a Sunday afternoon, with various series hitting the pavement across the globe, racing was very much so alive at a track where no cars sat waiting to jump into action.
Drivers? Well drivers yes, we had on hand. Indy 500 racing legends Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr., Rick Mears, Gil de Ferran, and Arie Luyendyk appeared at the Hall of Fame Museum from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. signing autographs for a line of fans that often crept out the door and into the lobby.
Fans standing in line began to debate which position each of the drivers took in their dream Indianapolis 500 line-ups that they are working on for TheGreatest33.com. Children pointed just as excitedly at the display of 67, Indy 500 winning cars as the adults holding their hands. For nearly five hours, the Hall of Fame Museum bustled with as much activity as Gasoline Alley does in May.
Fans of the Brickyard 400 had just as much to talk about as the Sprint Cup Series race got underway at Bristol. Part way through the race, fans began sharing which driver they felt had the right stuff to take the checkered flag. Common names mentioned included perennial Brickyard 400 front-runners Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards. When Kyle Busch finished as the winner, fans commented on a photo of Busch’s M&M’s car crossing the Yard of Bricks during last year’s Brickyard 400 race weekend.
Back on-site at the Speedway, Red Bull Indianapolis GP fans gathered at Brickyard Crossing to watch the MotoGP season opener in Qatar. The parking lot was packed with two-wheelers and the tables inside were crowded with plates of food, drinks, and of course, bike helmets.
The group, a mix of avid and passive GP fans, talked about the sport, their rides, and the American riders competing at Qatar. Plans for improvements to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, largely a new layout for the party scene, were also tossed around, but with six months lying between yesterday’s race in Qatar and our race here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowd was more than happy to be together amongst fellow riders for the afternoon. Even found amongst the riders was Arie Luyendyk, relieved of his autograph-signing duties and happy to grab a seat and disappear into the crowd to watch.
Like many fans did yesterday, I spent my entire day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and didn’t watch a lick of racing action on the track. Sure, I can hardly wait for the month of May, the “official” start to racing season here at the track, to arrive, but no matter where in the world racing action is happening, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will always be top-of-mind for race fans.
The next big thing? On Saturday, April 2nd the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 4Kay run takes place at the track. Runners, walkers, and their supporters can come out to watch the run and count along with me the number of times that participants for-go a personal best time by stopping to kiss the Yard of Bricks.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is fully of life 365 days a year and yesterday was a very special chance to witness and be a part of a race day atmosphere without there even being a race. Indeed, yesterday we were all at ‘The Racing Capital of the World.’