Back Home Again, in Indiana

Saturday, April 10


INDIANAPOLIS – Back home again in Indiana, and it seems that I can see… Not a lot of people on the grounds, but then it’s Friday afternoon and practice is all that's on the docket today.

The heat here is very Southern-like. Index today is 110 degrees, with combined temp and humidity, so it ought to be plenty sloppy on the track. It should be pretty sloppy in the stands too…hope all drink as much water as they do the adult beverage of choice!

The skyline of downtown Indianapolis, which gets a bad rap among big cities. It’s every bit the downtown that Charlotte has, and better than Atlanta or Orlando, in my humble Hoosier opinion. A reasonably full contingent of media on hand.

There are some races where the media people don’t show up, but Indy is not one of them. Sound waves. The sound the cars make coming down the front straight is different from the Indy cars, but still compelling. Back in the day when the engine of choice here was an Offenhauser, the four-cylinder powerplant had a distinctive bellow that told one and all that the Offy was in the house.

Speaking of sound, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his first pass down the front stretch with a different exhaust note than the rest. It’s a tuning thing.

Suprises. Max Papis is fourth on the speed chart in the first session and wound up 16th at the end of the day.

Good things only for the #13 team! Kyle Busch had an issue of some kind on his first lap. His posted speed was 20.273 mph! There are lots of neat things about Indianapolis, and since I’ve been coming here all my life, it’s ingrained in me to extol the virtues when asked…or given the opportunity.

You can’t see around the track all the way, but that leads to more anticipation, especially when you can tell somebody is running down the leader. There’s the track itself, which is huge and old (but seems new) and steeped in history.

There’s the feeling that you get when you drive through the tunnel, first see the yard of bricks and hear the cars on the gas.

There’s the Gasoline Alley sign, the garage area, the goofy yellow-shirted security force (which is now younger than it used to be but just as used to being the law) and the flags atop each of the grandstand towers.

There are the race fans that come decked out in hats/mufti that they wear every year to the Speedway, in May and July, and their obvious pride in wearing them.

I sort of miss the old Tower Terrace seats, with their gold backs and sun-washed feel.

I miss the old open-air press box on the outside of the front straight, though my ears don’t! I miss the old feeling you got when Jim Nabors sang “Back Home Again…in Indiana” and the balloons came billowing up into view.

I miss the Snake Pit in Turn 1 (though it has been replaced with a Turn 3 version since) and the sights and sounds a young boy got to experience growing up. Enough of the walk down Memory Lane.

I’m in Indiana again, which is always a plus, and even though I have to leave early Monday morning to get back to the grind in Charlotte, part of the Hoosier in me is always appreciative of the opportunity to come back and regain the power of history and heritage.

Stay tuned on @NASCARfansonly on Twitter and Official NASCAR Members Club for updates throughout the weekend!