A Year Without May In Indy
In my 65 years on this Big Blue Marble, I’ve never experienced a May without the sounds of race cars at the corner of 16th and Georgetown. Being a lifelong Hoosier there is something special about the month of May, especially in the small town of Speedway, Indiana. The Indianapolis 500 means many different things to people. For me it is the sights, sounds, and history of the “Old Brickyard “. As a kid living about about an hour north of Indy, watching the 500 was not possible ( TV blackout ). So sitting on the front porch with my trusty transistor radio listening to Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the voice of the 500 Sid Collins calling the race. That was my way to experience the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing”. Then in 1969 my Dad took me, and my brother to our first 500. Mario Andretti winning the 500 made me a fan forever. But my most memorable experience was in 1986, the company that I was working for had a small, and I mean a very small sponsorship on the Pat Patrick owned car #7 driven by 2nd place finisher Kevin Cogan (should have won, but that’s for another day. It was “Pole Day” and the month had been plagued with rain and Pole Day was no different. A light drizzle was happening around 9:00 AM when my boss and best friend suggested that we should go down to “Gasoline Alley” and see what the team was doing in the garage area. After spending a ½ hour with the team we decided to go down to pit road. After having a few laughs with the Yellow Shirts we noticed the bright yellow Corvette Pace Car taking a few laps. That’s when my boss said let’s see if he will take you for a lap around the track! About then here it comes down pit lane, with a extended wave of his arm the Pace Car stops right in front of us. The window goes down my boss asks the driver if he would take a corporate sponsor for a lap. He said sure get in! So with my heart beating faster than the track record I get into the passenger seat and buckle up. The driver asked me my name and I told him, then he asked what I did for a living. I told him what I did and then I asked him what his name was, he said Jim Perkins, I said what do you do for a living Jim? He said that he was the President of Chevrolet Motor Division. I thought here I am a small town kid in the Indy 500 Pace Car with the President of Chevrolet on the greatest racecourse in the world, nobody would believe it. Four laps at speed later, shaking like a leaf on a willow tree we pulled onto pit road! Mr. Perkins gave me one of the greatest experiences of my life. A May without Indy is like a day without sunshine. Go away covid 19!
Hoosier and Indy 500 fan forever.