“The Sound Of Speed”

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Most fans probably enjoy a peek behind the curtain to see what it takes to stage a race. I know I do. Whether it’s to be a fly on the wall in Race Control or to sit and watch what the IMS grounds crew will endure next weekend to convert the track from the road course configuration back to the more familiar oval immediately following the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis; we all like to get a better idea of what really goes on behind the scenes.

Most of us take the PA audio system at IMS for granted. The only time we give it much thought is when it’s not functioning properly, or at all. That’s when we realize how much it adds and how much we depend on it throughout the month – and especially Race Day.

I was contacted last weekend by a fellow Nashvillian, Craig Havighurst, whom I have never met. He asked me to promote a project of his. I’ve received e-mails like this before. Normally, after a quick glance, I decide to pass. This one caught my eye, however, and I decided to share it.

Craig Havighurst is a race fan, but is involved with the huge music industry here in Nashville. He is an audiophile, meaning he understands the science of sound and how minute adjustments to a sound system can turn a very mediocre sound experience into one that is memorable. I will freely admit that I know nothing of the science of sound, but I know when music sounds clear and when it is muddled. Other than that, I defer to the experts.

But Mr. Havighurst is also a writer. Later this month, he will have an expose of local driver Josef Newgarden that will appear in a local publication, The Nashville Scene.

Last year, Mr. Havighurst combined all of his passions – sound, writing and racing – when he did a story on what it takes to tune and operate the massive sound system at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unbeknownst to me, the man who has engineered the sound system at IMS since 2002, Steve Durr, also lives in Nashville.

Havighurst spent Race Weekend at IMS last year. It was his first-ever trip to the track. He has published what is more than an article. It’s more like a 7,000 word essay entitled The Sound of Speed. It takes about thirty minutes to read the extremely well-written article. For comparison’s sake, my longest post ever was about 3,500 words. Normally, my posts tend to range from 1,000 to 1,200.

I enjoyed reading his perceptions of the hallowed ground at 16th and Georgetown. Most years, we try to bring newbies to the race. I always enjoy seeing the look on their face as they take it all in the first time. Havighurst does a magnificent job of articulating his first impressions.

But what is really fascinating is his experience following Durr around for those two days – especially his accounts of Race Morning. I was also intrigued as he told the story of Durr’s disgust when he arrived in May after the new computerized video boards had been installed over the winter. Why the disgust? Because the audio lagged behind the video by several seconds. Even for someone that knows nothing of audio equipment, I found the steps they had to go through to remedy the problem very quickly to be a very interesting tale.

Craig Havighurst provides an in-depth look at the things we all love about the Indianapolis 500 in his writing. I get the feeling he purposely avoids getting too technical about acoustics and focuses more on the human experience he felt as he took in his very first Indianapolis 500. His writing reminds me of my very first visit to IMS back in 1965 and my first visit back as an adult in 1992. He captures the emotions very well.

There is one catch that makes me a little uncomfortable, and I told Havighurst that I was going to mention this – there is a cost to read it. It’s nominal ($3.00 to read it on the web), but there is a charge. Other than books that I’ve read and recommended, I don’t think I’ve ever suggested anyone spend money to check out an article. But you can make your own decision by going to this link. Like it or not, this is the way that publishing is going. The site is a reputable site that provides a direct outlet for writers.

But with no obligation, you can click on the link provided and check out an introduction to the article, read an excerpt and view a video with Havighurst explaining the project and how it’s a labor of love. If you decide you want more, the different pricing options are listed along the right side.

I have read the entire article/essay and highly recommend coughing up less than you’re likely to pay at your nearest Starbucks. It’s a very good read and gives us fans another glimpse behind the scenes about what really goes on to seamlessly pull off our favorite event.

George Phillips

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3 Responses to ““The Sound Of Speed””

  1. Thanks for the tip. I bought it for my Kindle. I’ll read it while flying over later this month!

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    I recognized the name because I had previously read an interesting article by Mr. Havighurst called “The Devaluation of Music”. However, as you might expect from up here in codgerville, when I clicked on your link I received this message: “We would like to invite you in, but you’ll have to update your browser first.” So, not having the proper browser in hand I will instead go visit Mr. Cavin. My Dad often told me to “get that tourist money when you can.” If he were here today I suspect he might have added: “Even if they don’t have the proper browser”.

  3. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    I pressed the wrong button! I meant to say “Very likely.” You had me at “I highly recommend this…” Normally, I probably would not pay for it. I have only a few blogs I follow, so if a book or publication is recommended by a writer that I follow and generally agree with, I’ll buy it, because I trust your judgement.

    Also, your poll above is confusing to old folks like me. You have “Very likely” in the middle, between “Not likely” and “I’ll think about it.”

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