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.