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.
Randy Hyken of Chandler, Arizona (near Phoenix), will attend his 40th Indianapolis 500 in May. Hyken, 61, is managing partner/owner of HRW Motorsports, has attended 37 consecutive Indianapolis 500s and is the proud owner of a replica 1998 “500” Pace Car.
Where we sit: Stand B, Box 20
At our first “500”: My wife was five months pregnant with our daughter, Elizabeth. The baby kicked up a storm throughout the race as the cars went flying by. We were sitting on open bleachers in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2. There was no shade and it was a very hot and sunny day. By the end of the race we were burnt to a crisp!
Race Day routine: We fly into Chicago on the Friday before the race. On Sunday morning, we leave our hotel no later than 3 a.m. to drive down. For the 100th, we’ll leave the hotel no later than 1:30 a.m., as I expect the traffic on I-65 will be bad. We park on Crawfordsville Road and walk to the track. As we enter we get my radio programmed, buy a program and then head to the seats.
For the rest of the race I don’t leave my seat. I don’t get up to eat, drink or go to the bathroom. I don’t want to miss a moment. I want to be there to take it all in. My wife will get up and get some food and water for me.
What we bring to our seats: I bring the radio, my headset and a couple of cigars.
Our favorite “500”: 1994, which marked the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. The flyover was a B-17 bomber, with four P-51 Mustangs flying as escorts. The lead Mustang was flown by General Chuck Yeager. The patriotic emotions were flying high that day!
Brush with greatness: I met A.J. Foyt before the race and he signed the hat I wear every year. I met Arie Luyendyk at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale about 10 years ago. He was very gracious and we took a couple of photos – he even took off his hat and asked me if his hair was OK.
Favorite driver from the past: Has to be Foyt.
Favorite driver today: Helio Castroneves – I’m always pulling for him to get that elusive fourth win.
About that replica Pace Car … : I bought it five years ago. I always loved Corvettes and I love the Indy 500, so it only made sense for me to own one of these special cars. I was at that race, the 82nd, back in 1998. On the Tuesday after the race, I stopped for a visit to the Hall of Fame Museum and in the parking lot were probably 40 replica Pace Cars that had been used in the Parade Laps. I walked up to one of them to look the car over more closely, and I fell in love with the car. I take a lot of ribbing from my friends about the purple paint and the yellow wheels. I always say that it isn’t a car to drive if you’re in the Witness Protection program. My wife doesn’t “get” the car, but it doesn’t matter to me. It’s a piece of history that I enjoy.
What the 100th Indy 500 means to me: It’s an achievement for all of the people that worked so hard to run this race 100 times. For me, I want to be there to experience the 100th and to be able to say that I was there to witness history. Each year as we age, that walk from the car to the track and then back again after the race gets a little harder and a little more strenuous. Each year I have told myself — even with some medical issues — “I have to be there for No. 100.”
The race itself is always emotional for me. When I reach my seat and sit down, I let out this sigh of relief and think that I made it another year, and I’m thankful. I get very emotional with the patriotism on display, from the parade of military men and women, the playing of “Taps,” “God Bless America” and most certainly (Back Home Again In) “Indiana.” When the cars take off behind the Pace Car and start their parade laps, I swear that I feel this “electricity” start to flow through the crowd. It builds and builds as we get closer to the green flag. I’m intently watching the Pace Car, and when I see the lights go out I know that the start is imminent. I see the cars building speed coming out of Turn 4. I see the green flag wave and it’s on! I watch as all 33 cars go through Turn 1, through the short chute and leave my line of sight, and my heart is about to jump out of my chest!
The race is the highlight of my year. It’s the culmination of trip planning, flying from Phoenix, driving from Chicago to Indy and walking in from where the car is parked. It’s no small effort, but it’s most certainly a labor of love for me.