A Letter To Charlie


By Susan Scruggs

I’m going to take a moment out of this controversy-filled week before Indy and celebrate a person who has been in my son, Eric’s life since they were in 5th grade—Charlie Adcock. Eric has brought other friends to Indy and I liked them all very much, but Charlie has been through much more with Eric. Though their lives have taken different paths–work, colleges and relationships, Charlie is Eric’s closest friend. Once again not your hard-hitting race topic coverage, but something that is dear to my heart–bringing your best friend to their first Indy 500. Be kind. My profession is Graphic Design, not writing. If George feels uncomfortable doing an interview, I am WAY out of my element here, but I write from my heart…George will delete that, touchy-feely writing is not his style—he thinks, but it is definitely mine.

Dear Charlie,

First I want to say thank you for sticking by Eric’s side through the good times and bad. The time you made the football team and he didn’t so he ended up becoming the manager, the time you wisely counseled him when his first “serious” relationship ended, while your relationship flourished, and for just being there. I want to give you a gift– the gift of attending your first Indy 500. I don’t know if you know this, but you are about to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event—the Centennial Indy 500. Our trip to the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber was an appetizer for the main course. Don’t get me wrong, Barber was great, but the Indy 500 is an entirely different thing.


L-R: Eric, Tony Kanaan, Charlie - Barber 2011

I hope you don’t mind sleeping on the sofa bed in our hotel room–as I learned a long time ago, man-rules dictate that guys just don’t stay in the same bed, no matter how old you are. I hope you enjoy our annual Saturday trek to the Speedway to go to the museum—this year it will really be something special, as you will see all available Indy 500-winning cars displayed. Saturday is usually a laid back day for us, but the day promises to be filled with events that will be befitting for a Centennial celebration. I hope that after the track, you will decide to eat with is at Dimitris—once again a tradition—the food is really good, and THEN go fishing. Not fishing and then Burger King. Yep, fishing has become a tradition of Eric’s ever since we decided to stay at the hotel with a pond behind it.


2008 High School Grads: Eric & Charlie

I hope you go to bed early on Saturday night and get up on Sunday morning in anticipation of the race. We do leave before the sun comes up to make 100% sure we make it into the infield to park. We didn’t make it one year and it was horrible, we never want to do that again (take note for your future race attendance, because I don’t think this will be your last Indy 500). You can sleep in the car on the way as we will be in line for a long time to get into the track. I will have plenty of snacks and a portable DVD player just in case—I’m the mom, much to my son’s embarrassment. I am prepared. I hope the anticipation builds as you go under the track in the 16th Street tunnel, to emerge on the other side and see the giant screen showing the drivers and their positions. We will be directed to our parking spot, as no one is actually allowed to decide where to park on their own—chaos would ensue. The IMS is a well-oiled machine, just do what they say, go where they tell you, and you will be fine. With both you and Eric being 21 this year, I’m sure you will look longingly at the infield “fun”—disregard the people who are still drunk from Saturday night, and stay with us. We won’t let you miss a thing,

We will probably first stop and let George get his traditional “meat sandwich” and go down and check out our seats, then roam through the crowd—this is the Indy crowd, one you will probably not see anywhere else. Then we will settle into our seats to watch the ceremonies. I hope you remember all the pre-race ceremonies, the Star-Spangled Banner, the flyovers, the balloons, and my personal favorite—Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again in Indiana.” To be honest, the first time I heard about it, I thought: Gomer Pyle singing—huh? But it is as traditional as the drinking of the milk by the winner post-race. It never fails to bring goose bumps to my arms, even on the hottest days. I hope you get a thrill out of hearing all the engines roar to life after the order, “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines.” Then the race will begin, and as far as I’ve seen, the Indy 500 is anything but a parade. It is full of surprises, as evidenced by the drivers in this year’s starting grid. We should be in for a great race. I hope you find a favorite driver and be a true fan, I hope you pick a second favorite driver, as sometimes the first driver crashes. I hope you encourage Eric to choose a second favorite, as I know it’s pretty much over for him if Tony Kanaan is out of the race. I hope you get an autograph or two.

I hope the Indy 500 gets in your blood (and your heart), and for years to come, even if you don’t go every year, you at least schedule your Memorial Day weekend around watching the race. And most of all I hope, you will bring your children here to pass on the love of Indy. That is the gift I want to give to you, one that will last forever. Thanks for always being there when my son needed you.


Eric’s mom


12 Responses to “A Letter To Charlie”

  1. Susan,
    This is really good. You really got to the heart of what the Indianapolis 500 really means to many people.
    This race has to potential to be the most interesting of all and I am looking forward to being there with my family.
    (My niece, Amber Kizer, is doing research for the third novel in her “Meridian” series. Guess what will play an important part in that book.)

  2. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Very nicely done Susan, this is what spending time with friends and family at the races is all about. The experience creates memories and traditions that remain with us always…

  3. Excellent post, Susan. Amid the controversy, it is great to remember how magical IMS is on race day. Tradition, family, friends, and fun. I hope Charlie has a blast!

  4. I had just come to terms with the realization that I won’t make it to the race this year and now I have to read that post.

    The 500 is tradition, history, family and spectacle. With just enough alarming Hobbson-like behavior to keep it interesting. I hope you all have a great time at a great and historical race.

    Good work, Susan.

  5. JHall14 Says:

    Outstanding post Susan. My parents brought me to my first in 1960,been coming ever since.This will be my 52nd straight race, and you said it very well,”And most of all I hope, you will bring your children here to pass on the love of Indy”.Indy does that to you.My children have been going since 1989,and there is no greater feeling than when “TAPS” is played, the silence which grows over such a large throng of people,still amazes me.The tears start flowing and continue through the end of “Back Home Again in Indiana”, then it is time to go racing.I hope your family & friends and all others enjoy being part of “The Single Largest 1 Day Sporting Event in the World”,the Indianapolis 500.God Speed.

  6. Great post. It’s hard to convey all of this stuff. I don’t think anyone believes you until they experience it for themselves.

  7. That is fantastic stuff. I do hope that I get the chance to meet all of you (or see you again, for half of your party) this year at Indy. It’s an experience that you just can’t fully describe.

    But wait, what? Hang on. “Meat sandwich”?!? What is that? Is that (hopefully) a euphemism for “delicious pork tenderloin”? If not, maybe I’m not so sure I want to meet George again. I may have nothing to say to him if he’s enjoying something called a “meat sandwich” when he could be eating one of the world’s best tenderloins instead.

    • He sometimes alternates between the Tenderloin and a Rib-eye sandwich (it is covered with onions and peppers I think), I don’t have the stomach for that fare at 7:30 a.m. We just call the rib-eye the “Meat Sandwich”–although he was gone an awful lot last year in the Media Center….

      • I have had that ribeye sandwich. It is delicious. But it is no tenderloin. George and I may have to fight, bare knuckle-style, on one of the putting greens in the infield on Saturday. Hope he can still see the race with a swollen shut eye.

  8. wait, I can go fishing in Indy AND still watch the race? Son of a…

    • funny.

      • The pond has those giant carp whose fins stick above the water. Good eatin’ if you like bottom-feeders, we like to stick to catfish here in Tennessee. He has caught a bass or two there. Maybe we can make a new tradition–the WHOLE fish sandwich.
        We also MUST stop in Portland, TN on the way back–the best strawberries on earth. Hopefully we won’t have to pick our own this year. Mental image–4 of us out in the 90 degree weather picking a giant field of strawberries while George sings “Old Man RIver”–another of my priceless Indy memories.

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