With the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race approaching in 2016, we’re showcasing the world’s most passionate and knowledgeable race fans – Indianapolis 500 ticketholders for 30 years or longer.
Dan Eisele of Rocky River, Ohio (near Cleveland), is attending his 42nd Indianapolis 500 in May. Eisele, a 55-year-old insurance claims manager, annually leads a 16-person crew representing five states that includes his wife Donna, Keith and Lori Loontz, Bill and Georgia Geib, Gary and Lynne Koontz, Laz and Marsha Simonyi and the group’s kids.
Where we sit: Southeast Vista (Turn 2).
First 500: 1973. Our family had just moved from Cleveland to Brownsburg (Indiana) in January. I was in sixth grade and my brother was in fifth at the time. The first day was the Salt Walther crash at the start of the race. While clean-up was underway, a terrible storm hit the track, with tornado sirens sounding, and the race was postponed. We went to the track the next day, but rain started on the second parade lap and eventually the race was postponed again. My mom wouldn’t let us stay home from school on Wednesday, but when she heard on the radio that the race would be starting, she came and picked us up from school right after lunch, along with some other kids and took us to the track.
Current streak: Next year is 35. I missed 1974 due to a death in the family and 1981, when I was in college and broke.
Race Day routine: We get up early (by 6 a.m.), put on the television to check the weather and Race Day traffic, then and head to the track. We typically park about three hours before the race so that we can make sure we’re in our seats early to enjoy all of the pre-race festivities. One of the highlights is always the Race Pool, where everyone draws the names of drivers, hoping to pick the winner ($200), with second place getting $100, and first out getting $30.
Our interests have obviously changed over the years. In the ’70s as kids, it was the enormity of the event. The ’80s were the party years (my recollection is a bit hazy). In the ’90s, we started to calm down a bit and mostly viewed fan mayhem as a spectator. The focus in the new millennium is on the race itself. And of course things have come full circle. We started as kids going to the race, now our kids are part of the mix.
What we bring: It’s a feast: Sandwiches, pizza, chips and cookies and, of course, plenty of beer along with homemade mixed drinks and margaritas. We have an old luggage carrier that we use to stack the coolers as we pull them down 16th Street.
Favorite 500: 1982 and 1992. Both involved two of my favorite drivers winning in close finishes. In ’82, Gordy Johncock beat Rick Mears, and in 1992, Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear.
Favorite drivers from the past: Gordy Johncock and Al Unser Jr., but there were no shortage of favorites from within our group including A.J., Mario, Emmo and Bobby Rahal. That made for a lot of fun and ribbing over the years. In 1989, there were some pretty strong feelings within our group about likes/dislikes for Emmo and Al Jr. Those feelings became even more heated on Lap 198 when they tangled in Turn 3, sending Little Al into the wall and Emmo winning.
Favorite driver today: Pretty unanimous. Everyone roots for Tony Kanaan.
What the 100th Indianapolis 500 means to us: Great memories and the passage of time. How the Speedway grounds have evolved into such a beautiful facility; the great drivers past and present and how the Indy 500 remains a benchmark for our lives.
Hi, This is my story on the Races I have attended of 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My 1st year was 1979 and we lined up on 16th St. around 1:00am in what was then the Columbia Fish & Oyster building and Partied All night till the line started to move, Once in side the Track we Raced to get the best spot and continued to Party All day, I did not get to see very much of the Race and I do not remember a Lot about that day but I had a Great Time, The next Year another trip to the Snake Pit, That was the Real Snake Pit, Not the Snake Pit of today, and Yes the Track Did need to Clean up the Old Snake Pit, I would Not of taken a Lady or Kids there. In 1980 I was able to get tickets in the Tower Terrace with some friends and WOW What a View and I seen what I was Missing from the Snake Pit. Great Racing , and watching the Pre race action, the Pits stops. And the Races !!!!!!!!!!!! I was HOOKED !!!! I was able the keep the Tower Terrace tickets we were moved to the South West Vista in 1978, The year Gary Bettenhausen's tire came into the stands. I lost these tickets that year and put my name in to get tickets in my name. I started out with tickets in the inside of Turn3 . In the North East Bleachers. I held these tickets until I was up graded two years latter to the out side of Turn 3 to the North Vista. I had those tickets for 20 years until those bleachers were removed by the Track and I was moved to the seats I have now in the North Vista. This will be my 38th. Straight Year at Indy !!!!! I have seen some of the Best Races and a Few of the Down Years at Indy, But They have ALL Been Great to Be THERE !!!! A few of the Best, Mears WINS !!!!, Weldons WINS !!!! Kanaan's WIN !!!!. But the One thing that I always REALLY wait for Each Year is the Playing of TAPP,s. I Still get Goose Bumps and a Tear in my Eye Every Time I Hear it. The Fly Overs, Jim Nabors, Gentlemen Start Your Engines , The Balloons, The Parade Laps, and Then The Green Flag !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have Goose Bumps just righting This. I as Few words as I can put it, I Love the Indianapolis 500 !!!!!!!!!!!! Bring on the 100th. Running of The Greatest Spectacle In Racing !!!!!!! I AM READY !!!!! Are YOU ????? The Pictures I added is a Picture of All of My Tickets but the 1979 Infield Ticket, I have No Ideal were that Ticket went. and a Picture of My Nephew, My Brother and Me. And the Last on is the View of the Track I have Now !!!