Midnight On The Yard Of Bricks

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By being delusional in thinking that something I write here might actually make a difference, this post was originally intended to promote an IMS event that is taking place tomorrow night. As most know, the good folks at IMS don’t really need my help in promoting events that are tied to the Indianapolis 500. The event is sold out.

For those that don’t know, IMS is hosting an event similar to a New Year’s Eve party – a countdown for 100 days to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 that is being billed as Midnight on the Yard of Bricks. The evening starts at 9:30 in the Plaza Pavilion. If you have been to IMS on Race Weekend, that is where the giant merchandise mart is held. It is a semi-permanent structure located behind the Pagoda on the south side of the Pagoda Plaza.

Food and beverages (I’m assuming of the adult variety) are available. There will be driver autograph sessions, fan trivia and other activities throughout the evening. The night culminates with guests leaving the warmth of the Plaza Pavilion before midnight and heading out onto the track – more specifically, the famous yard of bricks that denotes the start-finish line. There, I’m assuming that fans will countdown in unison to the stroke of midnight when it will be exactly one-hundred days to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

I’ve seen where some have scoffed at the idea of freezing your buns off and staying out past midnight on a weeknight. Well, let them scoff! If I lived closer and did not have a must-attend meeting for work – I’d do it in a heartbeat. Judging by the fact that the event is sold out, I’m not alone in my thinking.

I sometimes – well OK, a lot of times – ridicule IndyCar for their bland marketing approach and lack of ideas. Others say that Mark Miles & Company are too Indy-centric and that they channel all of their efforts in promoting the Indianapolis 500 and don’t put much effort into the remaining races that take place outside of Marion County. Both may be true to some extent, but I think it is that IMS President Doug Boles is in charge of the Indianapolis 500, and IndyCar is in charge of the rest.

Is Boles just an original idea man, or does he simply have many good people around him to come up with ideas like this? The man never stops working and his mind always seems to be churning with ideas. I’d like to see a list of some of the ideas he has come up with and never acted upon.

If you go back over the past eight months, you’d be amazed at the creative ways that Boles and his staff have kept the milestone race in our minds and on the front-burner. Before any member of the media (and that includes us lowly bloggers too) left the IMS Media Center after last year’s race, everyone was given a cap with the new logo, as well as a countdown clock. I’m not really a hat-person, but I do wear mine out occasionally and I’ve been asked about it. But the clock went straight to my desk at work. I’ll look at it many times throughout each day – every time reminded that the days, hours and minutes are dwindling down. The event logo is strategically placed underneath.

I’m not a huge fan of the logo. I thought that such a milestone event deserved something a little more traditional. But the Centennial logo in 2011 was very traditional – almost a throwback, so I guess they figured this year’s would be a little more futuristic looking.

INDIANAPOLIS_500_LOGO_2011
2016

It’s not the ugliest (see 2012), but it’s certainly not the best looking in recent years (2013, 2014).

Anyway…getting back to tomorrow night’s event – give Boles and his IMS staff credit. They keep coming up with fan-engaging ideas to keep this year’s Indianapolis 500 fresh in the public’s mind. Those in the Midwest saw a well-done Super Bowl commercial promoting this year’s race. Some wondered why it wasn’t nationwide. I can tell you without even thinking about it – cost. Nationwide Super Bowl spots are outrageously expensive. A regional spot could not have been cheap, but that is the geographical area that the race is most likely to draw from. It was a good move by IMS in my opinion.

Boles and his staff could have held a black-tie event at IMS at any time in the name of promoting the race. But counting down to one-hundred days is special. Doing outside at midnight on the yard of bricks is extra-special. It’s something most fans won’t soon forget.

I never lose sight of the fact that because of this site, I am very blessed to have done things at IMS that many people only dream of. I’ve stood on the yard of bricks on the track several times. It’s something that never gets old and I’ll never take for granted. I’ve also experienced IMS at night, which is a surreal experience. The eerie quiet and tranquility of the place is almost deafening, if that makes any sense. But I’ve never stood on the track at night. That would be very special and something that those in attendance tomorrow night should savor.

So, if you’re going tomorrow night, consider yourself lucky. The fact that it is sold out means that there are others who would like to go and can’t. There is not much chance for rain (or snow) and temperatures are going to be near forty – not too bad for mid-February in Indianapolis.

And if you see Doug Boles milling about tomorrow night, stop him for a second and tell him how much we fans appreciate all he has done for us in trying to keep the Indianapolis 500 relevant. I just wish he could be brought over to work his magic on the IndyCar side of things also.

George Phillips

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14 Responses to “Midnight On The Yard Of Bricks”

  1. super-excited one Says:

    Go to a semi-permanent building to ask or answer trivia questions and eat and drink before standing on a race track? Count me in !

  2. I’ll be there George, and I’ll send you some photos and HD video of the event, should be unique at least and a blast at best! I’m looking forward to this.

  3. I have signed up to attend & will hopefully be going. I work the night shift at a facility across the street from the track so this works really well for me.

  4. I am pleasantly surprised that it is sold out. I did not expect it to. I would really like to stand out on the track at night as well. I think that alone would be worth the drive. I think the more events that engage the local community with IMS, the better. It seems like since 1996 the city of Indianapolis has detached somewhat from the speedway and events like this might help reintroduce it to locals. I would be curious to know how many people that have moved to the Indianapolis metro area in the last 10 years have been to the Indy 500.

    • To be precise the Speedway is calling it “at capacity” since the event was free of charge and no tickets were sold. One must have a printed off ticket from an email from them or a virtual ticket on your phone from them to be admitted.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    The event sounds great, I wonder if it will continue in future years. Future races, obviously, will not carry the historic weight of the 100th running, but such an event seems like it could continue to generate attention for IMS.

    My only real complaint with the 2016 race logo is that it does not say “Indianapolis”, only “Indy”. This is a first, I believe, and seems an odd departure from tradition for such a historic occasion.

  6. I answered ‘other’ on the poll as I had not heard about this. Very good idea. Glad to see its had so much attention.

    I got to participate in the track walk last year after the Grand Prix. Great experience. I hope the management continues to offer opportunities like these.

  7. If I still lived in Frankfort, Indiana I would be at this event in a Indy minute. Having recently returned from the annual Drummond, Wi bar stool races I can relate that snow and cold are not a problem if the beer is not frozen. (The bar stools, by the way, are not spec, have no aero kits, and are mounted on skis.)

    • I just watched the 2012 race on youtube. That looks like good fun and even more fun with beer!

      • Ha! Thanks for taking the time to look at that. It is a pretty obscure event except in northern Wisconsin. Trust me when I say that Race Control has never been controversial there. We keep the beer in coolers to keep it warm.

  8. Sounds like a very cool event. I’d go, if I could.

  9. I’ll be there, should be a special night. George, when you speak about IMS at night, it brings chills. I’ve been there a few times at night, and it is eerie. My favorite is early morning on Race Day, when it’s still dark. The quietness and calm atmosphere is so unique. For any locals interested, I may have an extra ticket if you’d like to attend.

  10. IndySpeeddmon Says:

    We will not be going and I’m kind of bummed about it. Sadly work will keep me away but it sounds like a very unique event and I think it is pretty cool that some in IndyCar are obviously still working hard to engage the fans.

  11. Well shoot! Wish I lived closer and I would be there in a flash. Have fun all who are attending and report back.

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