I try to be as green as the next enviro-guy.
You won’t see me driving a Hummer; we pretty much use only CFL light bulbs; and we eat what we grow.
(That’s eat, not smoke.)
So it just seems a little contradictory to be into watching high-octane cars race around and around and around a track, burning what little we have left of precious fossil fuels, while sending up plumes of ozone-depleting, greenhouse gas-contributing exhaust.
So then, why is car racing so damn compelling?
And don’t tell me it’s some ancient urge imbedded into our DNA that draws us in just for the potential of witnessing massive automobile carnage, although clearly, there is that.
You might be inclined to assume it’s only testosterone-laden males that find the sport worthy of many an hour in front of the TV or better yet, in person at the track. But if a recent event provided any evidence to that question, it was resoundingly answered with, “you’re damn right, women love car races.”
Last weekend my wife and I ventured over to the northern California racetrack that used to be known as Sears Point Raceway. Nowadays, in the true spirit of corporate sponsorship, it is called Infineon Raceway. The event was the west coast venue for the Indy Car Series races with the top names in the world of the exciting open cockpit, exposed wheel car racing.
But there was just really one name I wanted to see.
Since I am more of a fan of what I consider (and drive) as the true classic-style of sports car I would have liked to watch the Rolex Grand Am race the day before, but we ended up going the next day to watch the Indy Cars races on their Fire Fighter Appreciation Day.
(Recall that I spent over 32 years chasing puffs of smoke…no, not those puffs of smoke.)
The Indy Car race last Sunday was where I was hoping that Danica–Danica Patrick, the super model-looking driver of the Indy car racing scene–would be eagerly awaiting my arrival. I think my wife went with me to console me when the obvious happened. Or more accurately, didn’t happen.
Having never attended an Indy race before, I did not expect to see the sea of people–men and women of all ages–amassed in front of Danica’s trailer before the race, just hoping for a glimpse, let alone an autograph from one of the hottest draws to car racing.
Danica–who is pretty much known by her first name– is someone who can handle a 650 horsepower Indy car that redlines at 10,000 rpm and does 230 miles per hour, all while being one of the sexiest women that graces the pages of many magazines and the imaginations of many a smitten race fan–mostly of the male variety, I would suspect.
The 2.3-mile raceway, which can seat over 100,000 racing fans (and their spouses or significant others who are dragged along for company), provided pre-race entertainment. The most exciting was an exhibition air show by four military jet fighters that seemed to go on for a long, long time.
Another attempt at something definitely not car racing oriented was, what appeared to me as a poorly orchestrated and even more poorly implemented attempt at breaking the world record for the number of people looking a little silly by standing smack-dab in the middle of the race track while pretending to dance The Twist. (I am not making this up.)
This was followed by each of the Indy racecar drivers being introduced and then paraded around the track while standing in the back of a pick-up truck bed looking like gladiators riding their chariots before their battle with the lions.
Hmmm…watching gladiators in a blood-sport struggle for survival–watching car races waiting for the inevitable car wreck: was I the only one that thought parading the drivers around prior to the race just a little morbid?
Another pre-race activity included a simultaneous singing of God Bless America while an auctioneer was rattling off bids of various fund-raising items. Maybe the pre-race time had suddenly become a valuable commodity.
There was another interesting pre-race activity that I could never figure out as the public address system sounded like the announcer had a mouth full of road gravel while holding the microphone under water. What a dozen or so helmeted pit-crew people were doing lined up at the start/finish line, I have no idea. I thought they raced cars here, not people.
Finally, the noise of 27 Indy cars starting up and revving right in front of the viewing grandstand was loud beyond description or belief. Sitting next to the runway of a busy airport could not be much louder.
And after the hours of the conversion of many gallons of car gas into mind-numbing noise, the winner was Helio Castroneves, who has been in the hunt for the overall point standings for the race season. As is his trademark, when he won the race Castroneves went into his Spiderman mode and scaled the short barrier fence in front of the grandstand and into the waiting arms of excited race fans; kind of a “Lambeau Leap” Indy-style, if you will.
Some of the people who attend these car races must forget that they are actually at a live event as a bunch of them were sitting under an awning by a trailer watching the race on relatively small TVs while sitting not more than 100 feet from the track.
The closest I got to Danica last Sunday was maybe 30 feet away when she “pitted” during the race and for all I know it was Seven of Nine behind that dark helmet visor.
So after no life-changing tete-a-tete with Danica, we joined the crawling parking lot known as Highway 37 at the end of another race day at Infineon along with what must have been a million cars all headed home at the same time.
It probably wouldn’t have worked out with Danica and me anyway…she is really just too short for my manly-man stature.
But I shouldn’t feel too bad: I’m not the only one she kept waiting (along with the hundreds standing outside her trailer). Even her pit crew had to sit around waiting for her to show up–as shown in this professionally shot short video–a Sand Dollar Adventures exclusive.
(Note: this 14-second vlog is my first attempt at transferring a clip from my camera to YouTube and then to my blog. Pretty impressive for a card-carrying AARP member.)
No need to thank me.