INDIANAPOLIS — I strolled down the long, long pit road at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I took in the sights and sounds of the century-old cathedral of auto racing. Yes, the booming bass of the music playing over the PA system died out hours ago. Yes, the fans long since exited the 559-acre property just roughly six miles from its namesake downtown, with just a sprinkling of fans standing beside the fences and finding pieces of cars.
As Brandon and Adam did.
— 𝓣𝓾𝓬𝓴𝓮𝓻 𝓦𝓱𝓲𝓽𝓮 🏳️🌈 (@TuckerWhite94) August 1, 2022
I won’t bore you with the history of The Brickyard, as anyone with a cursory interest in auto racing more likely than not knows it.
Just know that after today, Indianapolis won me over as a reverent convert.
The White Zone: Indianapolis
Let me explain
Put down the pitchforks and torches and hear me out!
I was born on Oct. 28, 1994. I’ve only known a world where multiple events and series ran at Indianapolis. So I never understood the larger-than-life status this facility held and holds, to this day. I didn’t (and to an extent, don’t) understand why the track, itself, was larger than the NTT IndyCar Series, the series that sanctions the Indianapolis 500.
I come from a NASCAR background, where no one race is bigger than the league, itself. As much reverence as I have for Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona 500 (the kind that auto racing fanatics have for The Brickyard), NASCAR would survive without either.
IndyCar would perish, without the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500.
Furthermore, year after year of terrible races and dwindling attendance bolstered my skepticism.
I think the catalyst for my conversion was covering the Indianapolis 500 in 2018 and 2019. Seeing people pour rum into their solo cups before 7 a.m., the absolute party atmosphere and how drivers celebrate like there’s no tomorrow when they win at The Brickyard set me down it.
Finally, covering the NASCAR Cup Series at Indianapolis for the first time was the “come to Jesus” moment.
While missing the morning drinkers and large-scale party in the Snake Pit, seeing Tyler Reddick pay homage to Helio Castroneves and climb the fence at the start/finish line helped me see the light.
As I type this, the Sunlight has faded and a shade of blue hangs over downtown, the JW Marriott and Lucas Oil Stadium (all of which you can see from the DEX Imaging Media Center). The sprinklers on Hullman Boulevard just finished for the day and the last of the NASCAR beat file out of the room.
Left in the room are TV monitors with the final result, boxes of goodies and a BC39 sign at the podium. Reddick’s (probably) finished his remaining TV hits and his bottle of champagne.
But like the rest of these people, I’ve joined the Church of the “Racing Capital of the World.”
As the sprinklers come back on.
That’s my view, for what it’s worth.
TOP IMAGE: Logan Riely/Getty Images