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. To meet more Superfans, click here.
Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, Maureen O’Clair of Avon, Indiana, will attend her 42nd Indianapolis 500 in May. O’Clair, 54, is the national sales director for Descon, Inc., in Brownsburg, Ind., manufacturers of signage and other visual solutions for the food service and education industries.
Where we sit: I have sat everywhere from Turn 2 suites to Turn 1 to Turn 2 to Turn 4. The last several years we’ve sat somewhere along the straightway – outside. Sitting in different areas of the track gives the racing a different perspective on how the car handles. I love watching the pit action. I love the start/finish line. Some of the more recent races have been a photo finish in the last several years, and there’s no better place to sit.
At our first “500”: My first race was in 1964. I was 3 years old. Obviously, I don’t remember much of that race. However, after knowing what was going on later in life it turned out to be a second victory for A.J. Foyt. The race that year was overshadowed by a fiery crash and the unfortunate deaths of Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonald.
Our Race Day routine: Parking at Conkle Funeral Home in Speedway for about 25 years. Funny to see how the people who take the parking ticket are the same people. We have a few years under our belt now, but still enjoy seeing them every year. We go to our seats to see the pre-race festivities. I would not miss that for the world.
What we bring to our seats: We always bring a box lunch from Kroger and a small cooler with beverages. I also always have to get a track dog, burger or corn dog. We used to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there.
Our favorite “500”: I would have to say that it was 1969 when Mario Andretti won the race because I was so tired of hearing in the years to follow “Mario is slowing down.” In all seriousness, 2011 was also a favorite because that year, Dan Wheldon won. Dan was a great spokesperson for the racing community and he is sadly missed.
Brush with greatness: Growing up with my older brother, we would have pit and garage passes. As a young girl, I remember being mesmerized by all these drivers, and they appeared to me at the time to be bigger than life. Little did I know that typically they were smaller in stature. After the race one year, I walked into a bar on the west side of Indy on Memorial Day, and much to my surprise there sat A.J. Foyt. I had the pleasure of sitting and enjoying his company and hearing his war stories and his successes.
Our favorite driver from the past: No question, Foyt.
Our favorite driver today: “TK” Tony Kanaan, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya – winner of the 2015 Indianapolis 500.
Following the 1977 race where A.J. Foyt won his fourth Indianapolis 500, he was joined by track owner Tony Hulman on a Pace Car victory lap with someone close to you in the front passenger seat: My brother David Fritzlen’s career spanned from Darcy MacManus Advertising Agency in Chicago to Castrol and Union Oil. He became friends with the Foyt/Gilmore racing crew, and it was A.J. who asked Dave to jump into the Pace Car for the Victory Lap. Dave was also friends with Chris Economaki (famed motorsports journalist) and in 1984 Chris received one of many awards, The Dave Fritzlen Award by the Chicago Boys Club. David loved racing just as I do. Tony Hulman passed away in October 1977 and David passed away in 1983.
A favorite IMS memory: For someone that loves the 500 and wants to experience the feel of the track and what the drivers go through is the Indy Racing Experience. I have been fortunate to have both ridden in the two-seater at 180 mph, and driven alone. In all the years of going to the race – since that experience — I have a new found respect for the drivers and what they go through for 500 miles.
What the 100th Indy 500 means to us: There is not a year that goes by that when they drop that green flag and those 33 cars come flying down the straightway that I don’t get goose bumps. I tell people that if you have never been to the race before that it is a once-in-a-lifetime must-see. For me, the history of this track, the legendary drivers that have come and gone is incredible. The technology of the cars and the safety to the drivers is also amazing. I am anxious to see who the next person is to receive the Borg-Warner Trophy and drink the milk in Victory Circle in 2016, and I can say I was part of it.