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Add this to your Bucket List

Posted on Friday, June 06, 2014 Categories: John Burke's Blog

Put this on your bucket list, The Indianapolis 500. It was on mine even before I knew I had a bucket list. I've wanted to go since my race cars were made of white metal and plastic, and said Hot Wheels on the bottom. My first exposure to the 500 was listening to it on the radio. My dad was a member of the Elks Club and we used to spend Memorial Day at their picnic. Dad always brought a transistor radio with him, so he could listen to the race from start to finish. I remember the announcer talking about drivers like Foyt, Clark and Andretti. In today's high tech word of High Def TV, in car cameras and live streaming, it's hard to believe that there was a time that listening to a race on the radio could be exciting, but it was. As I became older, I stopped going to the picnic, but I began faithfully watching the race on TV. I would route for, and against, drivers like Unser, Johncock, Rahal, Sullivan and Andretti.

Another race that I always wanted to go to was the U.S. Nationals, also held in Indianapolis. I have been to the Nationals more than once, but that's a topic for another blog. During my first visit, we found ourselves with some down time, so we decided to take a drive past the speedway. That happened to be the same year that they opened the new infield Museum, so we went on in. You can actually take a lap around the track, in a tour bus that's traveling 15 MPH. No, they won't let you actually drive on it. I now have three laps, 7.5 miles, in my 'Indy Log Book,' and with one more lap, I'll have an official qualifying attempt. If you ever get to Indy, be sure to make the Museum part of your visit.

Well, about eight years ago we did it. My wife Janet and I went to Indy for Carb Day. Carb Day is the Friday before the race and the final practice for the race teams. Janet's son, Greg, got a job with an Indy Car team and they were competing in the Pit Stop Challenge. So, we had the perfect reason to go, but Janet was a NASCAR fan who also had tickets for the 600, that was in Charlotte that same weekend. So, we (she) decided to do the double. First, go to Carb Day and the Pit Stop Challenge on Friday, and then drive to North Carolina on Saturday, in order to attend the 600 on Sunday. Never again. We got to the 600 early, did the tail gate thing and listened to the 500 on the radio (Déjà vu). Well, Murphy's Law required that Greg's team would win the Indy 500, and they did, and we're at a race in North Carolina. Never again. The next year we dropped the 600 tickets and got tickets for the 500. We've been attending the 500 ever since. We go out on Wednesday and camp right outside of turn two. If you ask any one that has attended the 500 about where to sit, and you will get one of two answers, there's no good seat at Indy or there's no bad seat at Indy. It's a big track; if you expect to see the whole race track you're going to be disappointed. Our seats are behind pit lane at the end of the front stretch. These seats give us a view of the best part of the whole race. When all 33 cars come down the front straight at around 230 MPH and dive into turn one, and no one lifts, it's something one has to see live to understand how impossible it seems. The only other thing I can think of, to compare it to, is being in the grand stands when two Top Fuel or Funny Cars make a perfect pass. Literally, awesome. We've made some great friends at Indy and now we cheer for, and against, drivers like Dixon, Power, Busch and Andretti.

I have a lot of automotive events on my bucket list. Some of the ones I've checked off are the Daytona 500, the World of OutLaws at Charlotte, a NASCAR short track race, the NHRA US Nationals, and driving the SCCA Hillclimb in Reading, PA. Some of the things that are still on the list; time trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Winter Nationals, the 24 Hours of Lemans, the 12 Hours of Sebring, a Formula One race in Europe, a Formula One race in the US, and being at the Indianapolis 500 when Greg's team wins,  Will I ever do all of them, probably not, but I working on it. Hope you can say the same.       ~ John Burke (aka. S&W's Engineer)

My wish for you is not that you attend all the races on your bucket list, but that you have more on your bucket list than races. ;) Fun read!
Posted by Heather Shuker on Saturday, June 14, 2014, 11:18 PM
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