Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Keeping Tradition Alive

This past Sunday, I kept a tradition alive.  I washed and waxed my car.  I know that sounds strange but it will make sense in a minute.  It was the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, which means it was time for the Indianapolis 500.  You still don't understand do you?

Okay.  When I was kid the 500 was not televised live. If you wanted to watch it, you had to wait until Sunday night and watch it on tape delay.  Can you imagine this happening in this day and age?  There would be total anarchy.  Anyway, you had to listen to it live on the radio.  So family would park the car in the back yard, turn on the radio and listen to the race, and proceed to wash and wax the car. But that wasn't all.  We had to prepare for the race. We would each pick the following:

        Lap 1 Leader
        Lap 10 Leader
        Lap 50 Leader
        Lap 100 Leader
        Winner (you got to choose 3)
        First Driver Out of the Race

We would not win anything other bragging rights but it was always fun.  My early winner picks were always Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt and Rick Mears.  Later the latter two would be replaced with Michael Andretti and Roberto Guerrero.  I say always fun but maybe not always.  In 1981, in a controversial ending, Mario Andretti was given the win only to have it taken away and given back to Al Unser Sr.  And then in 1982, rookie driver Kevin Cogan, starting in the 2nd position wrecked during the warm-up laps.  He took out Mario and AJ before the race had even started.

In later years, the Indy Racing League and the CART series got into a pissing match and the IRL would only allow a certain number of CART drivers to be in the race.  It ruined the race for me for many years.  Then last year I tuned in and watched a rookie wreck on the final lap giving Dan Wheldon his second title. A very exciting ending.  A couple of months later Wheldon would die during a race.  So much for getting back into indy racing.

Regardless, of all of the bad times, those races during my childhood are forever in my thoughts as a fun unique family experience.  I miss those times.  My little one "helped" wash and wax the car this year.  Even though we missed the race, I felt some tradition was being passed on.   Maybe next year, we will pick winners.


  1. Never getting into sports, this is a tradition that would have been lost on me, but it does sound like a fun family activity. Passing on those traditions are sometimes trying moments. It takes a while to get the new generation to understand the importance of what you are trying to do.

  2. It was always very exciting. All the cars getting ready and the interviews. The guys talking about the race and who they predicted would win. I would be sucked in until the first couple laps when I would fall into a deep sleep for up to an hour. When I would wake up the cars were still, from my angle, circling the track so slowly. My father would try to explain how fast they were going but it was lost on my bored ears. I would beg can we please go home or change the channel (depending on where we were). Now a tradition I pass to my kids is a Sunday afternoon nap. :)