It’s The Month Of May!
Welcome to the Month of May and the beginning of Year Five at Oilpressure.com. It’s hard to believe that this site started up four years ago today. I guess when you enjoy doing something – time flies.
First of all, I want to offer congratulations to our friend Pippa Mann, who announced yesterday that she has landed a ride with Dale Coyne Racing for the Indianapolis 500. When I refer to Pippa as "our friend", I’m not name-dropping. She is a friend to all IndyCar fans. You would be hard-pressed to find a driver that has worked harder to make this happen, yet has been so involved with interacting with fans on social media as well as in person. This is a case study in hard work actually paying off. I couldn’t be happier for her. What a great way to kick off the month for Pippa and her fans!
If you grew up going to the Indianapolis 500, like so many of us did – you probably compare Race Day to Christmas Day. If so, then the Month of May is the equivalent to the entire holiday season. Therefore, today is sort of like Thanksgiving Day. It’s the official kickoff of the Indianapolis 500 season. Instead of turkey, we should all dine on a breaded tenderloin sandwich. I’ve actually found a place near my work that offers up about as good a tenderloin as you’re liable to find in the south, so I think that’s where I’m headed for lunch today – just to kick the month off right.
The Month of May is not as long as it used to be – at least not at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember the times when today would be opening day at the track, and they would have almost the entire month to practice. The way the calendar falls this year; in years past, practice would begin today and there would be a full two and a half weeks of practice before the run for the pole on Saturday May 18. The second day of qualifying would be Sunday May 19. That would be followed by another full week of practice up until the second weekend of qualifying, with Bump Day on Sunday May 26. Carb Day would be Tuesday May 28 (with no concert) and the race would have been run on Memorial Day – Thursday May 30.
In those days, Memorial Day was always May 30th, no matter what day of the week it fell on; and that’s when the race would be run – except when May 30 fell on a Sunday. Then it would be run on Monday the 31st. Looking back, it would have seemed odd going to a race on a Wednesday or Thursday; but it seemed perfectly normal back then.
When Congress declared that Memorial Day would become a “Monday” holiday in the early seventies, the decision was made to run the race on Saturday. Then in 1974, the race was scheduled for Sunday May 26 and the race has been scheduled for a Sunday running ever since. That was the same year that the "energy crisis" made an impact on the entire schedule for the month of May. Due to public pressure, Opening Day was moved back to Monday May 6 and qualifying was trimmed from four days to two Saturdays. The two Saturday format was a one-time occurrence, but the Speedway never got the extra week of practice back into the month. Never again, did the track open on May 1. Although I tend to be a traditionalist, the Sunday running certainly makes travel plans a lot easier. It also builds in a rain date for the following Monday, in the case that the unpredictable Indiana weather turns nasty.
For the most part, I plan to post here every weekday in the Month of May – sometimes about the Indianapolis 500 of yesteryear, and sometimes about the one upcoming. The first year here, I posted at least once every single day in the month, Since then I have tried to post every day during the week during the Month of May, but not the first couple of weekends until qualifying rolls around. That is still the plan this year – but don’t hold me to it. I am now a married man with more things to demand my time, including my day job – but I’ll certainly try.
I’ll be spending more time than ever in Indianapolis this year. The plan is, weather and time permitting, for Susan and I to drive up Saturday May 11 for Opening Day and return to Nashville that night. If so, I’ll be posting from there that weekend as well. Things get a little disjointed from there.
Susan’s youngest son is set to graduate high school in May. For at least the past decade, the school has held its graduation ceremonies on a Monday night. This year however, they have scheduled graduation for the afternoon of Saturday May 18. That date happens to be Pole Day – and our first wedding anniversary since we were married at IMS last year on the evening before Pole Day.
Obviously, Susan is torn. Understandably, she has to be at her son’s high school graduation but she also wants to be with me on our very first wedding anniversary. It’s also obvious that I’m selfish enough that I’m not going to let my stepson’s high school graduation keep me from attending Pole Day. So to solve the dilemma, Susan will stay behind for the graduation. She will then hop on a (one-stop) plane that afternoon and arrive in Indianapolis that night for our anniversary and Bump Day on Sunday.
In the meantime, I am leaving Nashville immediately after work on Thursday May 16 to roll into Indianapolis that night. I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep, then meet up with my friend and sometimes commenter “MadTad1” for a good breakfast at Charlie Brown’s or Patachou before heading to the track for Fast Friday. It’ll be the first time since 2004 that I have been to any part of qualifying weekend without Susan. I will miss her, but I’m sure I’ll be able to pass time with a lot of my “Indy” friends until she joins me Saturday night.
We’ll return to Nashville together late Sunday night after Bump Day is over. It seems that the last few years, we don’t leave the track until after 8:00 on Sunday as I write up my closing thoughts. We generally don’t make it back home until around midnight.
After taking Monday off to recover and working for three days, it’s back to Indianapolis for the third weekend in a row – Race Weekend. For the first time ever, we’ll be going up on Friday. One of my two brothers and his crew will be joining us there on Friday, the other will arrive on Saturday. I don’t know that we’ll make it to Carb Day. I’m too old for the drunken debauchery that the Poison concert will bring. There was a day when I may have been right in there, but that ship sailed long ago. Now I’m more interested in a day at the Mug-N-Bun and the Dallara museum.
However, we will be attending our first-ever Carb Night Burger Bash on the north side of town. At my ripe old age, burgers and shakes and real IndyCar fans hold more allure to me than a concert and a bunch of vomiting drunks that wouldn’t know the difference between a 1991 Lola or DW12 Dallara if they were sober.
Saturday will be an easy day at the track, but we won’t have to be in bed by 9:00 pm because we’re staying about three miles from the track instead of our usual fifty. For the past several years, we had been staying in Columbus, IN for race weekend. It was much cheaper, but we had to leave at 4:30 on race morning to be at the track by 8:00. That takes its toll throughout the long Race Day, so we’ve decided to spend the extra bucks and stay close…really close. We’ll get up Monday morning and head back home to reality, with another Month of May in the books.
But it’s just getting started, now. This is the holiday season we’ve all been waiting for. Enjoy the month!