Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Indy 500 Memories-1982 and 1986

Currently Reading: The Mallen Girl, by Catherine Cookson. And will probably start on Cindy's book later today! Enjoyed Wedding Jitters...and now I think I know how to fix the ms I'm working on...

Anyone read The Boston Strangler? It's up next in the dead tree book box...

I think this was the year my interest in racing took off. I confess to a certain shallowness in picking my favorite race car drivers. At this particular time, I was 'in love' with a handsome driver by the name of Kevin Cogan. This particular year, he was sitting in the Pole position (ranked 1st for all you non-racing fans...this position has the highest qualifying speed and has the honor of leading the pack of 33 cars for the first two parade laps), but something happened when the green flag appeared, and an accident occured, wiping out several cars. And since this was before the teams could repair the damage and still re-enter the race, several past contenders were furious at my guy.

And those of us attending Band Camp were huddled around the radio, listening and cheering on the final ten laps and taking imaginary bets on who would win, Gordon Johncock or Rick Mears!

In a photo finish, Gordon Johncock nudged past by mere inches and won the thing! Even to this day, even though we know who the winner was, just hearing the sound bite from the final seconds brings back that adrenaline rush!

My second race (1985 was my 1st) was a downpour. We huddled miserably under our rain gear, eating our sandwiches and watching the futile efforts to get the track dry. Everytime progress would be made, Mother Nature opened up the floodgates and the process would start all over again. The next day, it was still raining. We didn't make the trip to Indianapolis; we watched the progress on live TV. Dad said if things looked better by noon, we'd go. But once again, Mother Nature decreed no.

A week later, the weather was bright and sunny. We made fresh sandwiches, repacked the coolers, and off we set again. This time, everything went off without a hitch. Well, okay. Almost without a hitch! We parked in a different place than last time, and my sister and I set our own 'track record' by setting off in the opposite direction of our seats! We walked around the entire OUTSIDE of the track in 45 minutes...and did not beat our parents to the seats:) We did, however, see some interesting sights...we witnessed the Celebrity Caravan taking off; we joked about stealing an unmanned Pace Car (yellow Corvette! My favorite car!) and driving to our seats; and we pretended not to notice the drunk guy who offered to carry our heavy coolers for us.

And the race was awesome! My guy led several laps, and when an accident ocurred late in the race, I was jumping up and down with excitement, wondering if Kevin was going to win under the yellow light, or if the Safety Crew would get the track cleared in time to go green for the final lap or two. And since Dad's favorite driver, Bobby Rahal was in second place, we had a friendly rivalry between us.

With 195 laps down, the green flag waved. The crowd roared; we all got to our feet and cheered as the pace car pulled into the pits and the drivers hit their accellorators. The race was on! Kevin managed to hold off Bobby for lap 196, but the distance between them closed. Going into to 3rd turn, Bobby edged closer, and by turn 4, saw his chance and took it. He passed Kevin going into the home stretch, and even though Kevin continued to chase him for the final 3 laps, it was all over. Dad was jumping up and down and yelling; I was yelling at Kevin for not taking his spot back; Mom and my sister were also cheering for Rahal. But my sister very nicely said, "It almost happened...there's always next year!" Dad looked at me and said, "Experience wins every time!" and popped open another beer to celebrate.

Unfortunately, the following two years, my guy didn't even finish, and I don't think he even races anymore.

This will be the first year since the mid-90's that my sister will attend the race. And we have some hard and fast rules for picking winners.

1) We always cheer for the women! First it was Lyn St. James, and later Sarah Fisher. Now Danica Patrick stands to be the first female to win at Indy. Wouldn't it be great if she were to do it this year?

2) We always pick at least one rookie to finish. And this has been a private joke: For three years in a row, the rookie we picked either blew his engine at the start and couldn't even begin the race, or was the first one out of the race! We'll see what happens on the 25th!

3) And being loyal to our parents, we cheer for Foyt, Rahal's team, or the Unser family. Used to love Little Al's car...his sponser used to be Domino's Pizza! And we always pick the car with the best logo. One year it was a dentist who was driving...his sponser was Crest:)

And what happened between 1982 and 1985? In 1983, I chose to go to Florida with my church choir and skipped Band Camp that year. Took a lot of flack from my fellow Seniors who couldn't believe I was being taught my routine from (gasp! Shock! Horror!) an underclassmen! Yeah, right...get over it...who cared who taught me the routine, as long as it was somebody? They got over it after a few weeks. And in 1984, I spent time with my grandparents, who had come up from Florida for my HS graduation. And I got to spend an entire month with them afterwards!

Well, I'm off to get busy with revisions. Do me a favor? Click on Suazanne's blog and leave your opinion on her decision to stay home with her kids and WRITE! Or, just send her encouragement as she's sending off her first submission:) Tell her I sent you! And for time management tips, click on the gals at Oh Get A Grip. Do you spend the morning in your jammies? Do you let housework pile up when you're In the Zone? Are you super-organized? Give them your input.


Ashley Ladd said...

The 1980s were sort of a blur to me. I was married January of 1980 and we had our first baby in December 1980. Then I separated from active duty Air Force. Then I had my second baby the same month we were moved by the AF from Offutt to Keesler AFB. I had my 3rd baby in 83 and in 84 I went back to college. I worked parttime as a waittress and VA counselor clerk while I was in college. I joined a Business Fraternity at the school and had a lot of fun with them. I graduated in 88 with my BSBA in Accounting, my mom died that same month, and we moved to Florida, that same month. I got a job in Accounting. That's the 1980s for me - oh! that and lots of Big Bird and He Man memories.

Sandra Cox said...

I don't think I could get through the Boston Strangler. I wouldn't be right for weeks:)

Eli Blake said...

Thanks for the memory.

I remember watching that 1982 finish. At the time I didn't like Mears at all (but by the time he retired I came to realize that he was one of the great drivers.) It was a sad day when Mears, Foyt and Al Unser all retired together. It would have been great to at least have them drive around together in the pace car or something.

Then again, I remember losing my childhood innocence horribly in 1973 when they showed the accident involving Swede Savage live, then kept replaying it for an hour and a half while the race was stopped, and he essentially burned to death right there in his car (actually they got him out and to a hospital, where he died from severe burns.) Somehow that really bothered me as a little kid (you mean people die doing this?) but I came to enjoy the race anyway (but I was glad that after that year they started showing it on tape delay to avoid ever doing that again.)

I've lost track of IndyCar racing (I'd follow NASCAR except then someone might mistake me for one of those fat, beer-swilling slobs with a two day growth of beard and wearing an old t-shirt featuring a confederate flag that seems to be the stereotypical NASCAR fan.) To be honest, Danica Patrick is the only driver I could name today.

I may watch the Indy for a change this year. I watched the Kentucky Derby and got really upset over the death of a horse, so maybe it's time to get back to watching automobile racing. At least the drivers know the risks they are taking and accept it.

Amarinda Jones said...

Car racing? I still don't get it

Molly Daniels said...

I'll have to ask my parents about that crash, Eli...I was only 7. The most vivid fatality I remember was Scott ??(Drawing a blank on his last name. Happened in mid 1990's). I attended the parade with my grandma and the car was draped in black to honor him.

I still don't like Mario Andretti, but I'm a fan of Michael and Marco! If Danica doesn't do it this year, then it would be great to see Marco win it:)

Check back next Wednesday, Eli...I'll be reminiscing some more! And thanks for stopping by:)

Kelly Kirch said...

Same answer I gave Barbara.... vague, confused... oh ouch... hazy stuff I don't understand.

Tami said...

Thanks for the memories too !!
Was looking around the Web today and happened to check and see if there were any new articles or stories about Kevin. Just happened upon your story.

I grew up watching the Indy 500 every year with my family. I still watch it every year even though the drivers aren't quite as interesting as they used to be...especially Kevin..

I was Kevins girlfriend and was in the Pits that day at Indy 1982. Also in 1981 when he came in 4th..

Anyway, thanks again for walking me down memory lane or should I say "the Brickyard"

:) Tami

Molly Daniels said...

Wow Tami! I was so in love with him in 1986...didn't get into the pits though until 1988.

Thanks for visiting:)

I guess you don't keep in touch with him anymore? Soomewhere I still have my newpaper clippings of him from '86 or '87. And I spotlighted that particular race in my 3rd book.