A Step Back in May


By guest columnist Joel David Thorne.
Here we are....another May. Another Indy 500. Another Fast Friday, annnnnnndddd "It's a NEW TRACK Record" for pole position.  Another rain delay, and another Carb Day.
But, it isn't just "another" day at the track. It's not just "another" day at IMS, or anywhere.  We have been slammed directly in our collective foreheads for the past two years that none of us saw coming.
Masks. No masks. Vax....no vax. Everyone's' opinions are wrong....and so are their thoughts, if they don't happen to align with ours.  The other guy is always wrong, and everyone is wearing a chip on their shoulder as large as an Indiana barn, or at least it seems that way.
No patience nor grace for those not in our inner circle. BUT, we want and yes, expect that from everyone else. Grace is for me, but not for thee... and as I write this, I am reminded of the 9 year old that whispered in her class...."can't we all just get along"??  That same thought has exploded in the minds and hearts of everyone, all over the world recently. 
OK Joel, we are all painfully aware of all of this....why bring it up here? Now?  
Because we racing fans are like everyone else, in that we need and MUST take a step back, and try to reflect on other things and times. Happier times.  Thankfully, and I mean this sincerely, we have IMS and  our favorite playground to rescue us, at least temporarily, from the darkness that tries to bury us mentally every day. 
Using our past experiences at IMS (the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for newbies)our fond, funny and sometimes frustrating memories come flooding to the forefront. (that's alot of alliteration)
NOW....just stop for a few minutes.....and set your way back machine to YOUR first trip to IMS.  Who brought you?  How old were you? Where did you sit?  Did you park inn the infield or in the Coke lot?  Or...did you take a bus from downtown to the track so you (or your parents) didn't have to worry about traffic? Did you, or your family entertain other family members or friends from out of town, state or even the U.S., perhaps even letting them sleep over? (who got the couch?)     
What was your first 'meal' at the track?  One of those great smelling brats, smothered in grilled onions and peppers?  Maybe it was the kind of day to plop out the old checkered kitchen tablecloth on the sun drenched grass in the infield, with that unforgettable wisp of fried chicken, tempting everyone around you to ask for just one piece.
Maybe bologna, chips and milk.  It really didn't matter then, or now.
Your world was about to be rocked in a way that you couldn't imagine.
As soon as the cars fired up, you could have had a limburger sandwich with egg nog to wash it down, and that would have been just fine, if you could even eat at that point,
Who was your hero then? AJ, Jimmy "the flying Scotsman, Parnelli in Ol Calhoun?  OK, too long ago?  How about Rick the Rocket Mears, Scott Dixon, Al Unser Sr and Jr??  There's Takuma, Will, RHR, Alexander Rossi.....but, whoa!!! These new kids on the block!! Herta, Palou, Ericsson, and Veekay, all have grabbed our attention (especially Alex Palou, with his IndyCar championship in his rookie year! They make the 'young guys' like Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden....look....well, old!
Let's not forget our perennial favorites like Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ed  Carpenter and our last 4 time winner, Helio Castroneves.
And, of course, there's Jimmie Johnson, "Mr 7 Time"NASCAR CHAMPION, crossing over to IndyCar in2021. Other crossover hopefuls like Romain Grosjean(from F1 in 2021), and Scott McLaughlin (from Europe's Super Series in 2020).
Today, these former young guns are helping dads, grandpas, and kinds of families and friend make new memories, even amidst these crazy times.  And  THAT.....that is why we come to IMS.  We come together as a fan fraternity to blissfully forget the politics, the pain of today's news and job woes. We escape. Indy IS our drug of choice.
I am thankful that, if for only a few days, we can come together in spirit.  We can root for the youngest, the oldest, the last active 4 time winner, or the rookies, and look around at each other....in the stands, in the sunshine, among the pit crew members and yes, the drivers....and say a hearty 'thank you' to whomever introduced you to Indy, and hopefully, you can pay it forward. 
Here's to better days, healthier times and many more IMS memories!!!