Lessons Learned at the 100th Running of the Indy 500

We were there!   Along with 400,000+ other race fans, we were there!

Now, I’m not what you call an avid fan of this sport, I’m more of a curious observer.  And, after surviving, no thriving, through my second Indy 500, I’ve learned a few tips that I thought I might pass along, tips that can actually be applied to many aspects of life.

1.  Keep smiling and wear some great ear plugs.  The noise of the engines can be deafening, and I gotta protect what little hearing I salvaged from jamming loud and proud in the 80’s!

Marilyn Monroe once said, “Keep smiling because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”  If smiling’s good enough for Marilyn, than it’s good enough for me!

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2.  Show a fan some love.  The crowd was mind boggling, especially the crowd that heard nature call at the same time I did.  Knowing that staff probably hadn’t freshened up the facilities all day, I came prepared with a small package of tissue and some hand sanitizer. After finishing my business, I passed these items to the gals behind me.

“Yes!”  yelled a twenty something, with the enthusiasm that equaled that of a Mega Million Lottery Winner!

The simplest of gestures can make someone’s day!

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3.  Patriotism should be exhibited and encouraged.  Well, it is in Indianapolis, from the standing ovation for the World War II Veterans to the Indianapolis Children’s Choir singing “God Bless America”, from the fighter jets flying over the track to the release of thousands of red and blue balloons into the white, fluffy clouds!  Heck, I even found myself shedding a few tears as Darius Rucker belted out “The Star Spangled Banner”.

I could feel a sense of oneness as these simple traditions were carried out, in spite of whatever dissension was going on in our country and in the world around us on that particular day.  Perhaps we should tap into that more often.

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4.  Participate even if you feel a little lost.  Of course, I know the simple concept of racing; the car that finishes first wins, but I knew very little about the race car drivers themselves. So, I queried the crowd around me, including my husband, and decided to cheer on Tony Kanaan.  Sometimes I missed rooting for him as he zipped by my seat, but I’m sure he felt the vibe of my support throughout the race!

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5.  Embrace the local traditions, or at least capture them in a positive light!  Milk is the beverage of choice as the victor crosses the finish line, and many in the stands switch from beer, water, or Gatorade to milk for that climactic point of the afternoon.  When we return to this event, I will be sure to pack a bottle of cow juice!

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6.  Make the effort to meet your neighbors.  What better opportunity to meet a diverse group of folks than when you’re all packed together like sardines!  We talked not only to locals, but also to spectators from as far away as London!  Everyone in our section was so friendly, and willing to engage in conversation before and even during the race.  What’s more, we actually got some helpful tips concerning parking and navigating traffic that will be useful on a return visit.

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The most important lesson I learned is that you really don’t have to be a racing enthusiast to enjoy this event.  With an open mind and the right attitude, anyone can get caught up in “The Greatest Racing Spectacle in the World!”

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