INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — May.
For many life-long Hoosiers, May is special. I grew up near the Speedway. I could hear the race cars testing in April from my 4th grade class...I remember it like it was yesterday. The smell of the first grass cut of the year wafting through the window along with the sound of race cars screaming around the world’s most famous race track just down the road.
I remember loading up in the family station wagon after school. We would make a pit stop at White Castle outside of turn 1 and then catch a few hours of track practice.
I ran up and down the fence on pit lane chasing autographs.
I still have them.
For some reason, I became obsessed with all things Indy 500. I rode my bike there in the summer. I went there in the dead of winter just to see it. This was my childhood sandbox in the backyard.
My partner in crime was Marty Worcel. We always found mischief. His dad, Lou, had Speedway contacts.
As a teenager, I parked cars on 16th Street for qualifying and race day.
In 1977, we spent the night inside the track. We helped fill thousands of helium balloons for the pre-race show. I met Janet Guthrie. She was making history as the first woman to race in the 500. AJ Foyt became the first 4 time winner of the Indy 500. It was a historic day and somehow I ended up on the track in turn 2 high-fiving AJ during his victory lap! I blame Marty!
Little did I know, some 30 years later, I would have the honor of riding around the track on Victory Laps as the announcer.
The Speedway is all that I have known in May. I have missed four total days of track activities since 1985. The Speedway is a part of my family.
So, this May has been tough. I miss the people, the sounds and smells. I miss that ringing in my head after watching a pack of cars on track all day long! I miss the non-stop, intense schedule and the drama of the entire month.
I have covered the Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals and every other big event in the world. Nothing compares to Memorial Day weekend in my hometown. It's the most challenging event to cover and the most rewarding.
That's why this May is one to remember. All of us are being forced to step back and appreciate those moments we may have taken for granted in the past. Let's cherish those memories and rest up for many more great Memorial Day weekends at the world’s greatest playground!
At least I am home to cut my grass before it's 2-feet tall!