Story and photo by Patrick Reynolds
Indianapolis, IN- A lot of us have a memory of the same vision.
The year could be 2015 or 1975. A broadcast begins and there is a familiar camera shot. The view is long from turn one up to turn four on a massive oval. Cars are gridded on the front stretch ready to race.
Thousands of people surround the cars. Over 250,000 fans pack sweeping grandstands and excitement fills the atmosphere.
The time is another Memorial Day weekend. The broadcast is another running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. We are tuning in to watch another Indianapolis 500.
The race is known to many who are not racing fans. The 500 is an iconic event like a Kentucky Derby or a Super Bowl. Millions of once-a-year sports viewers tune in because they are watching as much of a happening as a sporting event.
The ones that are there- experiencing the event in person and not watching on television- are fortunate, privileged if you will.
In my opinion Mark “Bones” Bourcier is one of the best auto racing writers in the business. I literally have read his work for decades before I ever transferred any of my thoughts through a keyboard to written prose. He has been and remains an inspiration in my writing.
I am privileged to attend the Indy 500 each year. Bones and I make the attempt to meet up and visit during the weekend. Our media credentials allow us to be one of those mystical people on the grid for the 500.
Bones described it best about our annual walk among 33 fast cars, drivers, and a few thousands friends.
He said he remembers looking at that same television camera angle of the 500 when he was younger and thinking those are the luckiest people on the face of the earth. The same words could have come from my mouth.
“I never want to take this for granted,” said Bones of our privilege to walk where we do every year. Again, the words could be mine.
I and the RacersReunion network have worked hard on this website and radio show. We are still not where we want to be, but when I look back on far we have come I cannot help but smile.
In 2009 I was wondering what I was going to do next with my professional life. In 2015, I have privileges. Privileges that I am honored to have and shouldn’t take for granted.
My Indy 500 credentials allowed me into the garage, media center, and to drop a few names. Think about that.
Allow me to drop some of those names. Off the top of my head I had the opportunity over the weekend to be around Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Sr. and Jr., Danny Sullivan, Dario Franchitti, Jeff Gordon, Leonard Wood, Parnelli Jones, Bill Simpson, Paul Tracy, Eddie Cheever, Scott Goodyear, the entire Indy Lights and 500 fields and plenty more that I probably forgot. Many would pay good money to go the places I do.
I am privileged, not in a monetarily wealthy way. I, like so many others, work hard to make a living and follow dreams. I am however, able to do things that many other cannot and will not. This honor does not escape me.
Today, I am one of those in that sea of people on Indianapolis’ front stretch. When that iconic shot comes on the television I am among those wading between the 11 rows, taking in the energy of being there. Watching on television are many more people that would love to be in my shoes.
On Memorial Day Sunday in central Indiana, I am a very privileged person. I won’t take that for granted.
Patrick Reynolds is a former professional NASCAR mechanic who hosts Speedway Report Mondays 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT on Facebook and podcasts at www.speedwayreport.com