I’m Too Old For Legend’s Day

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Give the folks at 16th and Georgetown credit. They are trying new things. When you try new things, sometimes you hit a home run. Sometimes you bet a base hit, but more times than not – you either strike out or get thrown out at first. It used to be that there was absolutely nothing going on at the track on the Saturday before the race. All these people were making their annual pilgrimage to this great facility and they had nothing to do but go to the museum and the gift shop.

Personally, I liked it that way. I could take my quiet time out by the track and reflect on what all had happened on that giant oval over the past century. But that didn’t do much for the bottom line for IMS. When they instituted Legend’s Day a few years back, it gave people more of a reason to come to the track. Each year they honor a legendary figure in the history of the Indianapolis 500. Today’s honoree was Mario Andretti.

They run vintage race cars in the early morning of Legend’s Day. Today, starting at 9:30, they ran two groups. First out was a collection of rear-engine cars that raced at Indianapolis in the late sixties early seventies. Included in that group were the turbines of Joe Leonard and Graham Hill. Next up were a collection of Kurtis and Watson roadsters. What gave this a perfect touch was having the great Donald Davidson on the microphone. At the end, they all ran again with Mario Andretti pacing the field in his 1967 pole-winning car.

To me, that was the highlight of Legend’s Day. There was a good crowd in the stands, and they all seemed to be hard-core race fans that truly appreciated seeing these cars from yesterday taking the track again. It certainly brought back memories of my childhood to see and hear those magnificent machines come to life again.

From there we went to the museum – which is always a treat. My brother and his crew got in town last night. My brother is an engineer and much more of a gearhead than I am. He is fascinated with comparing the different front-suspensions on different cars. I’m just happy to be there to see these treasures again.

We went to a memorabilia show that had some interesting items. I didn’t buy anything, but I was able to finally meet someone I had been wanting to meet for a couple of years. Fellow IndyCar blogger John Lingle of More Front Wing. Besides that, John has written a book on Lloyd Ruby entitled Hard Luck Lloyd. Aside from the fact that he is a Houston Texans fan and jabs me whenever they play the Titans, he was as good a guy in person as he seems online.

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Shortly after that, the crowd for this afternoon’s concert started filing in. Let’s just say, these were not the same knowledgeable and appreciative fans that had been watching the vintage cars just a few hours earlier. I felt like I was back home in Nashville with all of the cowboy boots and hats that were appearing before my very eyes. As each hour passed, the crowd got bigger, louder and drunker.

Susan stayed behind and went to the concert. Her son Eric, drove up today along with his new female friend. The three of them went to the concert. This probably shocks a lot of people but I had no interest in going. As I type, Susan has just left the track and is on her way back top the hotel. From the tone of her texts, it was not a rousing success. She says she was called “Grandma” once and the crowd was too much for someone of our age to enjoy. I, instead, joined my brother and his crew and went to eat my third meal at Dawson’s in the past eight days. I’m glad I made the choice I did.

Concerts at a track still baffles me. It’s like selling tickets to a movie, then diverting all the customers down the hall to a lecture, while the movie is playing. Isn’t the whole reason for going to watch the movie? But that’s a generational thing and I accept concerts at racetracks – just don’t make me go to one.

But I think Speedway management got their wish. They got a lot of people into the facility on a day that is usually dead. My quiet times of reflections are gone, but a lot of people came and spent a lot of money. I’m not sure what they could do, but I wish there was a way to keep the concert goers on one end, while the racing fans were at the other. But what do I know? I’m just a stodgy old goat that wants to revert to the old days too much. I have to keep telling myself “This is progress. This is progress”.

Susan just walked in looking worn out. With that – I think I’m going to call it an early night. I’ll be at the track early tomorrow. Check back here then.

George Phillips

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3 Responses to “I’m Too Old For Legend’s Day”

  1. John Lingle Says:

    Great to finally meet you George! I had the same thoughts as you when the concert crowd streamed in. Their refreshment level was very high shall we say?

  2. I guess if concerts help the bottom line of IMS, which in turn helps support the facility and Indycar, then I’m all for it. I do think it may be a thin line between helping to draw interest and possibly ruining the uniqueness of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

    Fingers crossed for an exciting but very safe race tomorrow.

  3. madtad1 Says:

    I must leap to Susan’s defense in that there is no way that she looks like a “Grandma”! I thought people who like country music were brought up to be more polite than that!

    This whole weekend has been interesting, vis a vis the crowds. I’ve chatted up a lot of different people: bloggers, yellow shirts, and IndyCar staff, and they all agree that the crowds, especially for Carb a Day, were way up. That’s good news for racing and IndyCar.

    Personally, I noted that there were a lot more younger people this year and that those people (13 – 30) were actual ly interested in the cars and drivers. Another positive that I noticed was that the very young girls were back, despite the dearth of female drivers n this years race.

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