1989 Indy Five Hundred, my sweet sixteen memory
My father had been taking us to the track since 1981. He wouldn’t let us go to the actual race until we turned sixteen years old, it was like a Monroe right of passage, especially since what went on in the infield at the time. My dad got me up on race day to travel from Rushville, IN for I had to work the night before at my job at McDonalds. We got to the area of the track at 300am, you could just feel the electricity in the air and the race was still almost a half day away. I saw people who were still out from the night before, the police cars were everywhere on the 30th street. As the sun slowly rose we entered the track and I was gleaming with excitement for it was my first 500 of many to come. We drove the old Plymouth passenger van into the track, I was with Delbert and Shawn Frazier as well. My dad and Delbert rested as Shawn and I hung out until my father was ready to take us to the Snake Pit. I saw it all in the snake pit, Bartles and James asking women to…well it is Indy and at the time it was more appropriate than today. Another guy had a beer can strapped to the bottom of his squirt gun shooting people with it.
We got to our seats in turn three, we saw 33 cars go screaming by, the end was one that I will never forget. The dual between Al Unser Jr and Emerson Fittipaldi. Side by side action that the end of the 500 can bring as two men are racing for imortality. As the end drew near the two fought until one survived. I can remember Al Unser Jr go sliding backwards down the track against the wall and coming to rest in the short shoot. I saw him getting out of his car and clapping his hands atÂ Fittipaldi.
What I witnessed was a great start to my appetite for Memorial Day weekend racing at the legendary speedway. One that I can thank my father for forever.