Friday, March 16, 2012

That Blue Envelope

My blue envelope has not yet arrived.

If you’re a fan of the Indy 500, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about: that wonderful, distinct blue envelope that comes each spring, containing my tickets to the Indianapolis 500. When I get that envelope, I know that even if we suffer through a late frost instead of this unseasonable warmth, even if the wind bites late into April, even if nature continues to laughingly ply experimental weather patterns upon central Indiana, the 500 isn’t really far away.

I’m known at my work and in other circles for being a 500 Fanatic; I decorate each May, run contests, and struggle to keep my work productivity above that of what a cadaver would accomplish.

Coming home from the military a few years back wasn’t easy, and it was a difficult transition. But going to the 500 was something that made sense. There are times in our lives when we simply feel more alive, more in line with who we really are. For me, I feel that in moments with my family, and moments at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

People who don’t get it look at these sort of statements as falling under the crackpot variety. Well, the thing is just that: they don’t get it. They don’t know what it’s like to walk into Gasoline Alley and see your childhood heroes hanging out with fans. They don’t know what it’s like to camp out in someone’s yard across from the Speedway the night before the race, waking early in the dark hours of the morning to see the Pagoda lit up like a beacon. They don’t know what it’s like to stand on the bricks and get a shiver as you get a glimpse in your mind of names like Arnold, Shaw, and Sachs walking those same paces. They’ve never found tears in their eyes, unbidden, as Jim Nabors sings “Back Home Again In Indiana”. They’ve never sat on Pole Day morning, watching the teams prepare for a chance at glory, the strains of the Gordon Pipers somewhere in the background, with a thermos of coffee and pork tenderloin comprising the perfect unorthodox breakfast.

It’s paradoxical, but until you understand, you won’t understand.

Yes, it’s a sporting event. But it’s a sporting event that represents family, faith, perseverance, joy, tragedy, excitement, comfort, hope, despair, heroism, friendship, glory, and every other bit of the human condition. That’s the difference between a race and The Race, you see.

Every year, every visit, no matter how many times I go, my heart still beats a little faster when I turn into the tunnel that runs underneath the track.

Bottom line, I’m ready for INDYCAR, and I’m ready for the Indy 500. That blue envelope can arrive any time now. I’m waiting.

18 comments:

  1. Dittos. For many years I thought I was a bit of a loon for having similar feelings. I've written about it several times and still am not sure why I react like this every time as well.

    I just remember it always being a part of my childhood and I was always drawn to it even just watching the late evening Wide World of Sports recap. When I finally got to see the actual race, it was more than I had imagined it would be. Maybe that's what always stuck - the things you can't possibly experience via TV. Regardless, that's what I love about the Indy 500 community - it is just that - a community.

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    1. I agree. It's definitely a community. I love that I can talk about that feeling of sitting in the bleachers late on Bump Day, tense beyond all belief, waiting to see who's going to make it in, and people know what I mean. Or talking about what set Tom Carnegie apart, or what makes the Marmon Wasp such an icon.

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  2. Interesting you haven't gotten yours. I live in SW Indiana and got mine last Saturday. As much as I love the blue envelope, this year I let my 10-yr-old rip into it to discover the prize within. Delight.

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    1. I usually order my tickets late, so I think I'm way down in the batting order, so to speak.

      That's a good idea on letting your child open the envelope. My oldest daughter's a few years away from being able to do a full race day at Indy, but perhaps that will be her rite of passage. :)

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  3. On an aside, I must say I've not had the joy of getting the blue envelopes in the mail for several years now. I'm just neurotic enough to have a irrational fear that my tickets will get lost or stolen in the mail (ridiculous perhaps), so I trek to IMS from 3 hours away (usually incorporated w business trip and is a wonderful excuse to visit the Speedway) to pick up the envelope in person.

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    1. Yes, nothing wrong with that! I am always paranoid my enevelope has been taken, as well. It's always a relief when it shows!

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  4. Well put!!! That blue envelope is special. This will be our 36th year. We have been to the speedway for other events, but being there in May is the best!!

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    1. 36 years? That's great! Have a wonderful time!

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  5. Can't believe you don't have your envelope since you live next door, lol. I received mine last week. I do not cry for anything but I get tears in my eyes during the national anthem and when the soldiers march down the pit lane. People don't get it until you're there. I also get goosebumps evertime I go to the track. There is so much history and excitement. I feel like its a privilege to be there.

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    1. How great is it when we get to cheer the troops going around the track? That and the military flyby are always extra-special to me.

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  6. No truer words have ever been spoken. I was afraid when I was moving from Terre Haute to Brownsburg a few years ago that my feelings towards IMS would change, being able to drive by it ever day. Thankfully that has not occured yet. As Rob Jenkins (hahaha) would say, the 30 mintues before the start of the race is the most emotional I get every year. I cannot wait to get my blue envelope & spend the day with 350,000 of my closest friends.

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  7. For me, I think I grow to appreciate the track more the deeper into the history and lore surrounding it I go.

    Awhile back I had another post about IMS, and was reminded of Shakespeare, who said "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety".

    It was originally meant to describe Cleopatra, but I think it describes Indy quite nicely.

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  8. Haha that is exactly how I feel every year!! I feel like a true Hoosier when Jim Neighbors steps up to the mike to sing "Back Home Again In Indiana," my dad sings along at the top of his lungs. It's GREAT!! I wish I lived in Indy to get in a whole month of May just once!! Nice job!

    James Sedlmayr
    Durand, Wisconsin
    @dfd827

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    1. To me, Pole Day and Bump Day are pretty special, too. A lot of great times out there. Community Day is awesome for the family, as well. Actually, the whole month is pretty amazing. :)

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  9. Still waiting on my blue envelope, too. :( No matter how warm and sunny it may be outside, no matter how many trees and flowers are in bloom, it's not really spring until I see that wonderful blue envelope!

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    1. Exactly! Forget the first robin of spring--it should be the first blue envelope of spring!

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  10. Ken @AbuelosDeTreceMarch 17, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    I received mine earlier this week, but I ordered the day the tickets became available. This will be my first 'in person' Indy 500 since 1981, but I have followed the race since Mario Andretti was a rookie. Since I have gotten back into racing, I have tried to watch other series events such as F1, NASCAR, and even the 24 hours of Daytona.... But nothing shines so bright as the race on the last Sunday in May, Pole Day and Bump Day. The Indy 500 is 'THE ONLY' race where hearing Jim Nabors sing 'Back Home again in Indiana makes most adults shed a tear. I think that's because we all know 'there's no place like home'.
    To me, going this year is very important because not only do I get to see the new DW12's first 500, but I get to meet all the wonderfull people I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the last year or two on Twitter.... and I wouldn't trade being an Indycar Fan for anything in the world! See you there!

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    1. Definitely! Hope to run into you this May. It's going to be a tremendous year.

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