This short blog series tells the story of how the Coke Lot event known as Camp and Brew, celebrating it’s 10th year in 2011 at the The Indy 500, began and grew. It’s alliance with the Brian’s Wish Charity and the $31,900 raised in 9 short years, is in memory and support of a young man who died of ALS. Read the first post from this series here.
My younger brother Jim (yes, he does have a name) had lived in Indianapolis since 1987. When I learned that he would be moving in early 2001 to San Diego, I knew I was too hooked on the 500 to give up. Somehow, I knew staying at a friend’s house would be okay for a year or so, but I had always wondered about the die-hard maniacs we saw every year camping around the Speedway?!? That, to me, looked like something NOT to miss.
Hating to reinvent the wheel, I began to search out advice from those who had actually camped there at previous 500’s. Sometimes I’d look online, but I usually preferred to seek out the personal stories first hand, when I could. The Coke Lot kept coming up as THE place to be.
In Kentucky, on the Saturday before the August 10, 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series “Belterra Casino Indy 300″, I met a race fan from Colorado. A fellow IRL CREW Member, Glenn was able to travel to many IRL races that year due in part to his job, and our paths crossed at an interesting point in time.
After we met at the CREW Booth, we sat next to each other that night at a social/dinner at Jillian’s Restaurant in KY and I picked his brain. What to bring while camping in the Coke Lot? What did you wish you had while camping? And so on.
My definitive plan began to take shape from there. We were going to borrow an RV from my parents (Phillis and Bob) and make a go of it in 2002. Glenn was invited and the three of us spent lots of time trying to make it a once in a lifetime trip to remember. Exactly how Glenn, Jim and I figured out the rest of the logistics is at times, a little unclear.
I named it Camp and Brew 2002 simply because it rhymed and I was just glad to finally put that Marketing degree of mine to use. Glenn took off from there and had a banner made, I did up some stickers and we were off and running. We talked it up on TrackForum.com as a friendly place to stop and get a beer and talk some racing. Our official Bail Bondsmen and Camp Nurse was a good friend named Barb, known to thousands of IRL race fans.
The first official year C&B memories included Melissa and her group…The Canadians who camped next to us and, despite having drank all the MOLSEN in the lower 48, they returned and even remembered us in 2003!
A highlight of the first year was the Eureka 4 man tent on top of the RV with a sign next to it on Race-Day morning that read: Sarah Fisher Slept here! Lots of people took pictures of that.
We were provided freebie Camp and Brew t-shirts from our very good internet friend Rick, aka “Radio”, in Arizona. An asset that helped us raise $400 for Brian’s Wish, an ALS Charity. We had become familiar with Brian Hall’s fight with ALS and the Brian’s Wish foundation and had plans to meet Brian later that evening. When we met Brian’s parents and his hospice nurse, Barb, at Community Day, we found out that we would have to reschedule as Brian wasn’t having a good day. Unfortunately, we never did get to actually meet Brian because he died early the next morning. The role he would play in the popularity of C&B over the years cannot be underestimated.
Also in 2002, Glenn created, and now maintains the CampAndBrew.com website from Colorado where he lives. That has allowed us, prior to even the start-up of Facebook, to connect with people and let them know what we are about.