• Tag Archives Indy 500
  • Place

    Beltane                                                                                 Planting Moon


    All of us are from somewhere.  We may love that place or hate it or be indifferent to it, but it remains the unspoken standard against which we judge our present condition.  I understand that military brats don’t consider themselves tied to any location and I hope for their sake that that isn’t true, because a person without a place is a terrible thing to contemplate, so called world citizens to the contrary.

    At certain times of the year our old home place gets brought to mind and late May is one of those times for me.  The greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500 happens on the Sunday closest to Memorial Day.  It used to be on Memorial Day.

    Right now in Indiana everyone’s focused on the time trials, the days preceding the race when pit crews tune the cars and the drivers familiarize themselves with the track and the way their car responds to it.  The Indianapolis Star has an entire section of motor sports and in these weeks it will feature special interest stories leading up to the race itself.

    As kids, we would all pour over lap times, engine design decisions, who was driving which car.  We could handicap an upcoming race like old railbirds at the Kentucky Derby. (among whom used to my grandfather, Charlie Keaton)   In the 1950’s the old car design, large tires with a soapbox derby look sported Offenhauser 4-cylinder engines.  It was 1963 when Team Lotus brought in a mid-engine car, which came in second, then dominated until blowing a gasket in 1964 and finally winning in 1965.  That was the first race the Offy’s hadn’t won since their rise to dominance.

    It’s hard to describe how radical it was seeing this small car, low to the ground, racing against the older style Indy cars.  This picture shows Jim Graham and the first Lotus entered in the 1963 race.  It looked like a different animal altogether than the old roadsters.  They were almost instantly extinct, along with the Offenhauser engine.

    Up until Team Lotus the Indy affair had been a US event, but Jim Graham’s success and the amount of money available to win soon drew many out of the European based Formula 1 racing circuit.  Now the favorite is as likely to be from Brazil as from Noblesville, Indiana.

    It’s also a much faster race.  The year I was born, 1947, the Indy was won by Mauri Rose at an average speed of 116.3, a pole qualifying time of 120.0 and a total race time of 4 hours, 15 minutes.  Ten years later, in 1957, Sam Hanks won the race at an average speed of 135.6 and a race time of 3 hours, 41 minutes.  8 years after that in 1965, the year I graduated from high school, Jim Graham won in the car you see above.   Average  speed, 150.7, qualifying speed, 160.7 and a race time of 3 hours and 19 minutes, almost an hour faster than 1947.  In 1990 the average speed was an astonishing 185.9, a qualifying speed of 223.3 and a race time of just 2 hours and 41 minutes.

    After that year, as the downdraft devices and the quicker engines began to reach higher and higher speeds, the track began to impose limitations aimed at lowering the overall speeds and reducing the possibility of high-speed, multiple car fatalities.  Safer car designs, cabin designs and suit designs have made the driver risk less now than in the much slower days of the 1950’s, but fatalities still occur.

    Dan Wheldon, a two-time Indy winner, and winner in 2011, died that same year in a race in Las Vegas.  (above:  wheldon’s 2011 winning car)

    This post is about place, about a place defining event and its embeddedness in my own life.

  • A Sunshiny Day

    Beltane                                                                       Waning Last Frost Moon

    Weeding, thinning in the vegetable beds.  A soothing practice, sprucing up the rows of beets, carrots, spinach and taking young weeds out now, before they get big.  When I first went outside this morning, in a sweatshirt, I had to go back inside and put on a light jacket.  A friend told me yesterday that an acquaintance, in the BWCA on vacation, woke up to a frozen pond near their campsite.  Minnesota.  A day with sunny skies and cool temps makes gardening a joy.

    Buddy Mark Odegard has a new knee.  Here’s to his recovery and regaining the full use of his leg.

    Brother Mark has a lot of things to ponder right now.  He’s considering what might be his next move and he has a good number of options.  Making this a bit more difficult is a feeling he has, “I feel like a refugee in my own country.”  He’s been gone 22 years and the contrasting cultural mores of Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, make him a stranger in his own, native land.  A peculiar, rather poignant experience.

    When asked what the cues were, he said, “English speaking everywhere.  All the white people.  Americans are more direct, more in your face.”  Wonder if he meant me?  Could be.

    Can you believe Memorial Day weekend has arrived?  Things are buzzing back in Speedway, Indiana where the 500 will run for the 100th time.  I haven’t kept up this year though a quick review of the 33 cars shows 4 women in the race including one qualified ahead of Danica Patrick.  When a woman wins the Indy 500, it will be a huge moment in motor sports.

    By now in Indiana I would have known the results of time trials, the strategies for the new cars, the old faces and the rookies, new moves for pit crews.  Indy drivers get interviewed on TV and newspapers have separate pages devoted to the race information.  Whether you attend or not, and most don’t, the 500 takes over Indiana life for the month of May.  The May classic.  And it’s back for the 100th time.

  • A Holiday Sunday

    Beltane                                       Waning Planting Moon

    What the hell, I thought, I’ll just cook a chicken.  And I did.  With onion, walnut, Paul Prudhomme poultry seasoning and sesame  oil.  It’s cooling off on the rack right now.  I also cooked up a pot of wheat berries.  Both are moves from the Brenda Langton course I took on healthy eating.  She had a few tips for the week.  One, pick a meat and use it for several meals.  So, you bake a chicken and have it as a meal.  That’s today.  Later on for sandwiches or in a salad.  At the end the week you through the carcass and left over meat in a soup pot and make some sort of potage or the other.

    The wheat berries go into cereals, smoothies, ontop of waffles or salads.  Can be eaten alone, too.  She also recommends having nuts around the house for use as condiments and snacks.  None of this is rocket science but it is nice to have a framework.  Add in fruits and veggies and there’s a healthy week of meals.

    Had to go upstairs to let a dog out and had some of the chicken.  Moist with a crunchy skin.  Delicious.

    Got part way through ch. 17 in Wheelock, too.

    Finally, I watched the last of the Indiana 500 mile race.  This race and high school basketball have as much to do with being a hoosier as the lakes do with being a Minnesotan.  Danica finished at #5.  Ashley Judd looked cute running down pit row, clutching her straw hat and trying to keep her sun dress decent.  Her husband, Dino Franchitti, just won his second 500 and she seemed very happy for him.