Speedway Motor Speedway; that just doesn’t have the same ring to it that Indianapolis Motor speedway does. That must the dilemma the townsfolk had in 1909 when the speedway was built in Speedway, IN. Though Indianapolis had yet to grow out to the city limits of Speedway, it became the namesake of the track anyway.
I research a little about the track beforehand and learn that they offer an Indy car experience for $500. (I’d get to be a passenger with a professional driver in a 2 seat Indy car) That sounds like fun, but is it justifiable. I have to mull on that. There are slots available later in the day. I’ll tour the museum first and see how I feel about it.
The $20 tour gives a behind the scene look at the track. I love the inner workings of such things, so I want to do this anyway.
The first stop is the media center. This is where the drivers and sponsors address the media. The football field size room is filled with long Formica tables and old analog touch tone phones; looks like something from a 70’s movie. It seems pretty archaic by today’s standards but does provide my first view of the track and a pretty cool photo op.
The tour guide is a long time racing fan and offers great insights along the way. I however keep getting distracted by the service vehicles circling the track. Apparently , they are drying the track for the racing experience folks going out later.
Next stop puts me on the podium at victory circle. Looking down pit row from the podium I eye the cars that will be used for the 180mph $500 ride of a lifetime. I’m beginning to justify the cost. 2 laps @ 2.5 miles each that’s “only” $100 per mile. Ugh, sounds real expensive in those terms.
On to the pagoda. First inspired by Japanese architecture, the pagoda houses race control, timing and scoring, radio broadcast booths & corporate suites. It also provides a 10 story view of the track. From atop you can not only see the full oval and road course tracks but the Indianapolis skyline. I, however, pretty much only see the 2 seater Indy cars being wheeled onto the track. $500!!! Damn!
Next is a bus ride to the garages and around the famous Gasoline Alley. The tour guide provides lively narrative and trivial tidbits along the way back to the museum.
The tour includes all day access to the museum. A racing car fan would be in heaven. I’m not a “car guy” but I do appreciate the design and engineering of these cars through the decades.
The final stop of the tour is a photo op in an actual Indy car (man those things are small). By this time, the Indy Experience cars were zipping around the track and I’m just enthralled. The Indy car photographer confirms my suspicions and says “It’s worth every penny, you gotta do it!”
“We don’t do that here”
Down to the front desk I go prepared to pluck down the 5 bills – metaphorically. It would be a credit card swipe and 1% cash back thank you. A sweet little old lady quizzically looks at me and says “We don’t do that here”. What?!? She instructs me to call the 800 number on the card she hands me. “We no longer own our track” she informs me. I’m not sure what that means but I infer something happened that she’s not a fan of. This is a mojo killer and I feel a bit deflated.
I call the number and am presented an overwhelming phone menu for various tracks and experiences, I finally narrow it down to my track and my experience. I prepare to give my credit card number to the agent only to be told to visit their website to schedule. If anything sets me off and puts a clamp on my wallet it’s poor customer service.
I exit the museum and stomp to the 1st turn grandstand and watch the cars zoom by then trod over to the turn 2 “mound” for an even better view.
Assuring myself I made the right decision, I leave and head back to the campground. I call my 78 year old mother to update her on my whereabouts and relay my story. I can always count on her to tell like it is. “Hell, you tight ass. You can’t take it with you. Go ride in the car.” Just the nudge I needed to swallow my pride and to go online and book.
I decide I’d book for a couple days later only to learn this was the last day and I was too late. Damn it!! If anything gets to me more than poor service it’s being told “I can’t”. And this one was all on me.
Guess I’ll be back in October. For $1,000 I get to drive, hmmmm!
If You Go
I should impart some words of wisdom and pass on some advise. So here goes. “Hell you tight ass, you can’t take it with you. Go ride in the car.”