The Memorial Day holiday is upon us again! This weekend has been recognized as many things…the start of summer, the season of white pants, and the Indianapolis 500.
Early in my life, the town of Speedway, IN became a major city for five days a year. Carburetion Day (officially named Carb Day beginning in 2000) was held on Thursday before the race and included the pit stop contest and other things designed for the fans to have a chance to get up close to the cars and drivers and extend the weekend (and beer sales) at the track. Prior to splitting Indy-Car style racing into two different series, I had seen estimated attendance reach as high as 500,000 (300,000 was a more common estimate). I’ve had the chance to attend three or four races in my life, the latest in 2016 for the 100th running of the race. My family is fortunate to have had tickets passed down for over four decades, giving us some very good seats where the pre and post-race activities can be observed while sitting in the shade with a breeze at our backs.
The pre-race ceremonies are a reminder of what Memorial Day is about (hint…it’s not that you can wear white pants again). The Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a military appreciation lap where military personnel that have recently returned from active service overseas are honored in a parade around the track. This first occurred in 1991 and started again and has become more common since 2002 with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. After the drivers are introduced, there in an invocation, “Taps” is played, followed by “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Back Home Again in Indiana,” before the announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.”
I hope everyone’s weekend is full of fun and time with family but take the time to remember those who have given their lives for the freedoms that the weekend has come to resemble.