Race day dawned – fresh and clear with no rain predicted during the race timeframe. We were all up by 7:00, but before heading across the street to the track we had a little packing up to do . . . when the race is over we wanted to be ready to pull out ASAP. With all of the chores out of the way, we trickled over to the track -- Halie and Caleb first, followed by Tom and Micah, and last of all . . . me.
Here is a fun little video that shows the mood at the Speedway -- even the attendants were dancing!
As I left the parking lot at 9:30 the line through my gate was short and it took less than 10 minutes to then walk to my seat. Our seats are the top row in section 22. At this point I had already missed some of the pre-race celebration: the parade of bands, the 500 Princess Lap, and the Borg-Warner Trophy March to the Bricks!
Our seats give us a good view of the cars as they come of out turn one and dive into the short-shoot and then negotiate turn two right in front of us and head down the back straight-away.
It wasn't long until Tom and Micah left their walk-about of the inside of the track and joined me in the stands -- we were all in place by 10:30.
The pre-race celebration continued as: historic race cars took some laps, drivers were introduced, the military was addressed, and "God Bless America", "America the Beautiful," the "National Anthem," and "Back Home Again in Indiana" were all sung. The big event was the delivery of the green flag and the checkered flag in turn one by a US Army Helicopter team. The helicopter hovered and as the men climbed down a rope to the ground and delivered the flag.
Finally -- "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your Engines" by Tony George himself! Then the cars were off, and we saw our first views as they came down the short-shoot towards us in their three parade laps led by the pacecar.
During the next 200 laps the lead changed a record 35 times! There were also a few amazing crashes from which everyone walked away in good shape, and several other yellow flags for debris on the track.
Following all of these crashes, the cars went green for the final 25 laps of racing as we all took to our feet. Takuma Sato, on lap 195, passed Helio Castroneves and continued to hold off Helio’s aggressive charges till the very end – winning by 0.2011 of a second to become the first Japanese winner of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Later I heard that it was the seventh straight year that the decisive pass for the win occurred in the last six laps of the race!
Meanwhile, over in turn one, Caleb and Halie saw a completely different perspective of the race. Here are a couple pictures Caleb took of the event.
After that, a race for home! It was a wonderful time, but we were now focused on unpacking, cleaning up the camper, repacking, and heading out for the next 9 weeks . . . to Alaska! Be sure to check back for those details as I try to keep up with posting duties on the trip.
Tom’s alarm sounded at 5:00 a.m., rousting us out of bed for the move to the track; we were already hooked up and just had to pull the electricity. By 5:45 we were in line on a side street waiting for the parking lot to open. Our first observation was that, indeed, some people had been able to talk their way into the gates a night early – there were a lot of rigs already set up. They must have had a better “line” than Tom.
It was dark, overcast, rainy, and dreary as Micah and Tom set up in our 4 spots. Our arrangement was different this year as Tink wasn’t in her Rpod in her usual spot next to us – with another 4 parking spots. This year, two of our four spots would go for Caleb’s tent/mini-van set-up. Time would tell how it would all fit!
Dinner was a new BBQ place Micah had scouted out. The rain had shut down and the lot was drying up, and things were looking good for Friday!
YEP – the sun came out on Friday, the temperatures rose, and the party started for real! Tom and Micah left at 9:00 for the mid-morning events at the track and the Indy Lights race. They were back early afternoon, and we cooked hamburgers, and waited on our Caleb and Halie to arrive. They were in the lot and set up by 8:30 – just as strong storms moved in. They weathered the thunder, lightening, and torrential rain in their mini-van/tent combo, while Tom and Micah and I did the same in the Airstream
The tent set-up gives Caleb and Halie a "bedroom" in the floor of the mini-van, and lots of storage for equipment and "stuff" in the tent. Not quite a motorhome, but . . .
Alarms were set for 6:00 Saturday morning, and the three young-ones headed off to stand in line for the gates to open (at 8:00) for legend’s day; so they could race to the pagoda plaza . . . to stand in lines for autographs. Tom strolled over at 8:00 and managed to score 6 autographs and a legend’s day pin. I arrived at 9:30, and didn’t even try to get close enough for pictures of the drivers, relying on the ones taken by Tom, Caleb, Halie, and Micah.
Dinner was at the “Big Woods” restaurant in downtown Speedway. Excitement was picking up in the streets of Speedway as people were out walking from bar to brew-house, and Micah and Caleb and Halie stopped in for brews-in-a-milk-jug at Sara Fisher’s brewery. Time urged us back to our parking lot by 7:30 – before the Keith Urban concert at the track let out!
In the evening there was a lot of groundwork to lay to get ready for next-day’s race: charging phones, radios, cameras and loading backpacks and getting coolers ready. The big experiment for the evening was when all 5 of us took showers in the Airstream – INDIVIDUALLY! When we were all done, the Silvermine still had 20% of her water left – and everyone was feeling fresh and clean!
Stay tuned for race-day pictures and details!
Home from time trials for only 36 hours, a little miscalculation on my part resulted in returning to the Speedway a day earlier than needed to set up in the parking lot for race week! Totally repacked from time trial weekend, Tom, Micah and I left fresh for Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon. We drove straight to our parking lot to try to talk our way thru the gate a night early! At the parking lot, the guy in charge said absolutely NO early entry – and then also informed us that we couldn’t come in until THURSDAY morning.
A quick trip back down 16th took us to the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where there were plenty of camp-spots to choose from for the next two nights. The good news was that we were in a prime position for a race down 16th street on THURSDAY morning to claim our parking lot spot at 7:00 a.m.
The highlight of that little trip down 16th Ave was a drive-by of the Taco Bell where pole winner Scott Dixon got held up at gun-point going through the drive-thru -- just hours after winning the pole!
Evening entertainment was a trip to the Apple Store and dinner at P.F. Changs. Then some sit-out time back at the Fairgrounds, and an early night with movies, books, and games.
Wednesday was a slow, rainy day at the fairgrounds with one trip out to a mall to kill time, another trip out for dinner . . . and an evening with showers and packing up for an early zip to the track in the morning.
I need to mention that Charlie Button was along for her first Indy experience. Before leaving home she had a total clip – except for the ears. The ears are sacred!
Just for the record -- we made our annual trek to the track on May 18th for the Time Trials. Tom, Micah, and Caleb did a boy's-only on May 14th for the Indy Car Grand Prix road course, so Halie and I were glad to be invited along for this outing.
Tom and I set up at Mounds State Park, just 40 minutes north of the track in Anderson, IN on Thursday, May 18. Caleb and Halie joined us on Friday, and Micah caught up at the track on Sunday for the run for the Pole Position. We were home again Sunday night, with less than 48 hours to clean up and pack to return for race weekend.
I'll let the pictures tell most of the story!
Tom and I went to the track for "Fast Friday" -- where drivers work to fine-tune their engines for the race. Storms and a driving rain brought a quick end to that little session . . . we headed back to Mounds!
Caleb and Halie arrived Friday at suppertime. Tom and I had their new tent already set up, and all they had to do was back up and "mate" the mini-van to the tent!.
That wasn't all of the weekend -- but that was all of the pictures! On Saturday we all went shopping, excited to see the new Duluth Trading Post store that was nearby. (Great store: if you are not happy with what you bought -- for any reason -- any time -- just take it back for a full refund!
Sunday Tom and Caleb met Micah at the track for a full day of practice, ending with the final shoot-out of 9 cars for the pole position. . . won by Scott Dixon. Halie and I did a bit more shopping and lunch at Red Robin, followed by an absolutely perfect afternoon at the campsite. The boys joined us at 7:30 for a final flurry of packing up and heading for home. As I mentioned, there is less than 48 hours to re-arrange the whole set-up for a solid six days at the parking lot for the race! So, I'll keep on working . . . .
It is the time of year for the great urban campout in downtown Columbus. It is a grand union of NOVA (we’ll show you how WBCCI/Airstreamers rally and camp as a group) and Haydocy RV dealership (we’ll make sure you get the right Airstream to fit your needs!) This is our third time for this venue, hosted by NOVA’s Sue and Terry along with Haydocy’s management team, and it just keeps getting bigger and better. In spite of the cold and the rain it was a great metropolitan campout.
Tom and I left Wednesday afternoon to camp at Delaware State Park – earning another button on our State Park map! It was coolish, but dry, and we enjoyed an afternoon campfire, our first drive’round of the park, a lamb steak dinner, and a snug evening reading and watching movies.
Thursday was the official start of the rally, and although we were anxious to get there, and just about an hour away, we set a slow pace. We didn’t want to beat our hosts – no need to worry because Columbus traffic slowed us down to a 30-minute crawl! Haydocy is on the west side of Columbus on the main drag off Broad Street. A gravel parking lot to the side of the dealership had been cleared to make way for a dozen campers – with electrical hookup!
The inside of the dealership showroom had also been prepped to allow a large gathering space for our round-the-clock camp-chair circle – so much for the wet weather! Here are pictures that show the casual gatherings throughout the weekend.
During Thursday afternoon Airstream peeps arrived and staked a claim on the parking lot. Allen, Tom and I ducked out for a lunch at Chili’s and a shopping trip to our favorite REI outdoor supply store. Rain was off and on all afternoon, dictating that our potluck dinner – a hotdog cook --would take place inside the showroom After supper John and Suzie pulled out their new toy – a propane, smoke-free, fire-ring – and it sat up on the covered patio just off the showroom floor. It was drizzly, but we enjoyed every ambience of a real campfire – in the rain – under the dry veranda! It was so enjoyable that the party didn’t completely break up until after midnight!
Friday began with coffee and donuts in the showroom, and plans were laid for a tour of the State House Capital Building. Sue had made all the arrangements and a group of 13 set off at 11:00 in the morning for a little pre-tour foray of the Statehouse Museum, and to assure that we hit the 1:00 target with our tour guide. Sara was an experienced tour guide (and especially thankful NOT to have a gaggle of elementary students) and we got all the facts about the Statehouse and it’s many additions in general, a tour of the Senate and House chambers, as well as details about how a bill becomes a law in Ohio.
We were out of the State House by 3:30 and on our way back to Haydocy.
Entertainment cranked up for the evening as Haydocy pulled their Airstream Land-Yacht foodie RV into the front parking lot to provide us with a BBQ dinner. And that was just the start – they hired country western band Austin City Limits with lead singer Simba Jordan for an evening of down-home, foot-stomping music -- right there in the Airstream showroom! Samba had quite a few triumphs in his professional history, and he and his boys sang their boots off for us.
I am doubting that the little group of 25 Airstreamers was the most electrifying audience the band ever had, but they did get three camping ladies from the crowd on their feet and two-stepping around around the showroom! It was an incredible performance.
The girls wrapped it up on Friday night -- I am not sure if there was another campfire under the outdoor pavilion, but if there was, I didn't make it!
Even though the rally was winding down, Saturday held three more big events! I had worked up tickets for the Shen Yun performance of ancient Chinese Dance -- a 2:00 performance in the Ohio Theater. All winter I had been wanting to go to the theater, and when I saw this extravaganza, it was just perfect. The whole show is grounded in ancient Chinese history, culture, melodies, and stories created through dance. No photographs are allowed, but here are a couple pictures from the internet.
The scene on the left shows my favorite dance Han Dynasty Sleeves. The girls would throw out those long sleeves, and then with an unseen wrist movement, snatch them back into their hands. I also enjoyed the famous Umbrellas dance, the Handkerchiefs in Flight, and Yellow Blossoms.
Although it was close to dark, there was one more little event waiting to come together -- a trip to the Buckeye Raceway located almost across the street from our parking lot! Once it was found out that the track was open until midnight, 6 racer wannabes headed off for a little racing fun. With an Indoor road course, electric SODI carts that sit close to the ground, speeds up to 45 mph, and an automatic timing system with printed speed result sheets after each race , it was a fun venue.
Sunday morning was a slow start with coffee and one last sit-around in the showroom. By 10:00 we were hooked up and headed down the street for breakfast at the near-by Waffle House . . . home by 1:00! Future camping plans center around the Indy 500 . . . and a little trip to Alaska!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2018 25' Airstream Serenity with Salsa interior and front twin beds., and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown