Monday, May 23, 2011

The "Quarterly" Expeditions

This is the first in a series telling about my experiences visiting the places that each state in the USA has chosen as SOoooo significant, they want it to be printed as the symbol for their state, and placed on the special "state quarters" produced by the U.S. Mint during the first decade of the second millenium. I am starting with Indiana, because that state chose to recognize its famous event---"The Indy 500"--- as represented by the photo of an Indy-style racecar, shown in the top photo of this collage. It seems particularly timely since the race is held on Memorial Day weekend (which is just days away), AND it is the 100th anniversary running of the world's most famous race.

People come from all over the world to be a part of this---the greatest spectacle in racing. This photo shows the famous "pole" that indicates which drivers go where, when the familiar command "Start Your Engines" is given, and thousands of black and white balloons rise above the monstrous track.

When I made the Indy pilgrimmage some time ago, it was by motorcycle. My husband and I made the trip between northern Arkansas and Indianapolis in a leisurely two-day drive at the beginning of our Indy 500 adventure. However, because the race was delayed by a full day due to rain, we had to scurry back home all in one day, after the race was over. I guess that was the longest non-stop trip we made---a full 12 hours of riding, at the maximum speed limit, on a Harley-Davidson Softtail. After 12 hours of riding on that so-called "Softtail" however, I had a DIFFERENT name for it! At least, we did not have to drive to the various Indy event venues, once we arrived in Indianapolis. We had bought a package that included the hotel, race tickets, parade tickets, access to the garage and pit area, and motorcoach transfer (with a police escort!) to the "brickyard" (aka, Indianapolis Motor Speedway). I would definitely recommend the "package" route, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, and will be needing to book some type of commercial lodging. It is not exactly easy to navigate the huge 253 acre park. It is so large that Yankee Stadium, Churchill Downs, the Rose Bowl, even Vatican City could fit inside the 2.5 mile track.

This photo collage is a reminder of some of the other famous race tracks I have had the opportunity to visit. The Kansas Speedway (just west of Kansas City, in the state of Kansas) was especially memorable. It is memorable not so much because of the race itself, as what happened AFTER the race, when my sister and I tried to find our car. It seems that in our excitement to get inside the speedway when we first arrived, we jumped out of our car to catch the parking lot trolley, without giving any thought to where we had parked. It was early in the day, so the grassy fields used for parking the thousands of cars was largely empty. Imagine our surprise when the race ended, and we exited the track to see a vast OCEAN of parked cars. We had no idea where to start looking, so we just went up and down every single row. As darkness approached, we were exhausted from searching, so we finally just stopped and sat down to rest, deciding our only option was to wait until every single car on the gigantic prairie they called a "parking lot", was gone. Lots of people felt sorry for us, however, and invited us to join in their tailgate parties. FINALLY, when there were only about two dozen cars remaining on the "prairie", a click of our car key made one of the car's lights come on, and we were reunited with our long lost transportation home!!! PTL!!! We learned a real lesson from that experience, however. We now take a photo with our cell phone of where we park! The lower left photo is a reminder of the Daytona Speedway, where I got to attend motorcycle races. The lower right photo is a souvenir from my time at the Charlotte Raceway. It was a special event there where I got to actually be timed while changing the tire on a racecar AND had the opportunity to ride around the track in a stock car, used to let tourists experience the "feel" of a NASCAR track. Not surprisingly, all this writing about races, has brought to mind one of the most well-known Bible verses about races: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." I Corinthians 9:24 So for the big Indy 500 race coming up this weekend, I am rooting for the gal (Danica Patrick) to get the prize! Miles of (230 mph) smiles! Tricia

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