Time To Break Out The Lanyards
At long last–the Indy tickets have arrived. My thoughts immediately go to—where did I put those lanyards? I managed to find two and as I was looking at them, I thought—that’s our entire racing history. As I look at them, they are about ¼ inch thick by now and weigh about 6 ounces—which is quite a weight to wear around your neck. Filled with tickets (Nashville, Barber, and Indy), plus our pit passes and a bit of confetti from various winner’s circles.
As I look through our lanyard contents, there are so many memories. Our first race was 2004. After that, I was surprised my son wanted to go back. I’m sure you remember that was the year that Buddy Rice won and it rained on and off all day. Quite a bore if you are 14 years old. But he was bitten for sure. When I asked him if he wanted to go next year, without hesitation, it was a resounding YES! He probably would have said H___ Yes, but at the time he tried not to cuss around his mother. He has been to every Indy since.
When I compare his lanyards to mine, his tickets are almost all autographed (his first Indy, he didn’t know who the drivers were, so there are no autographs on it). You would have to know Eric to realize why this is so significant. He is shy everywhere except at a race, where I have seen him chase down Tony Kanaan with a vengeance. He is always good at spotting the drivers in the pits. If you are an autograph seeker, he’s your spotter!
We have several pieces of confetti from the winner’s circle as well. We should have put dates on them, but I think Eric can tell which race they are from, I can only tell the ones from the Nashville race and the distinctive stars from Barber last year. He also has several shards of cars that met their demise on the track. Those don’t go in the lanyards but have a special place on his “racing shelf” in his bedroom. On his shelf, he has all of the Andretti Racing Sports cars, along with the special poker chips that the Palms Casino made one year—of course, all are autographed. I do miss those 1:18 car replicas they used to make. Now they are considerably smaller and have fewer offerings.
One of our lanyards is empty, as we always bring one of Eric’s friends. We always let them have their ticket as a souvenir. I enjoy seeing a kid who really just wants to go to Indy to hang out with Eric, turn into a real fan. Last year was probably the most fun, as he brought his first girlfriend with him, she was such a trooper, not one complaint—even though we were all about to pass out from heat stroke.
Then the strawberry picking episode in Portland, Tenn on the way back to Nashville the next day was one of those priceless memories. I’m sure George mentioned that in an earlier blog—the one where we stopped and picked an entire flat of strawberries in the rain. Sadly, Eric’s girlfriend will not be attending with us this year, so I wait with bated breath to see which friend he will choose. I did enjoy the companionship of another female, something that has been lacking in previous years. I hope we get to bring someone who has never been before, someone new to get bitten by the racing bug. He can officially drink beer this year, something I look at with sadness–they grow up way too fast!
Every year I go through the finding of the lanyards, it’s almost as traditional as Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again.” This year I am going to use a Groupon (yep, I LOVE those things) and paint a special ceramic box or container to store them in. Something that has so much history deserves a special place to be held until the next race. Of course I’m going to use that famous checkerboard pattern. Maybe George will let me post it on here. So break out those lanyards—it ‘s racing season!