Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Milkman Cometh

Hello friends! I hope you had a wonderful week and are ready to read my tale about a day at the Formula One races. I was fortunate enough to go to the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500! I had been to a Grand Prix event in Australia during the Moomba Festival, so I was familiar with the sport and all the particulars. I felt I was ready to participate in the festivities.
The Indy 500 is called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Oh really? They have never seen me behind the wheel of the car, or in the pits, or in the snack room or in victory lane…I am a spectacle! By the time the day was over, I was sure everyone else would agree.
I arrived to the track bright and early to see if any of the drivers I had met in Australia were racing. I did see one racer I recognized though he wasn’t racing in the Indy 500. He recognized me as well and ushered me past the security into the pits where the area was abuzz with activity. I was determined to stay out of the way, but I have a way of forgetting about that when I see something interesting I want to learn about.
There was a really old gentleman hanging out in the pits and I went up to him and introduced myself. We talked about the cars and he explained the history of the event. Since I think it’s important to learn about the things you are about to experience I listened intently. He told me that when the track was built in 1909 it was just gravel and tar… when that started wearing out and becoming dangerous, bricks were laid…when it was resurfaced again, only a small area of bricks were left… The Indy 500 is always held on the last weekend of the month which corresponds with the Memorial Day Holiday… approximately 400,000 people attend the race…yes, that’s 400,000 people! He was just a font of knowledge. He alluded to the fact that there were some interesting things in which the winner gets to partake in, but he didn’t want to ruin the fun – he wanted me to be surprised. I was impressed with how much he knew about the race and asked him if he had attended all 100 races. My question gave him a good laugh, and he just shook his head as he walked off into one of the garage areas. I guess I’m not very good at estimating a human’s age.
I heard someone mention the name Andretti, and I turned to see if I might catch a glimpse of one of the famous Andretti family members. As I turned, I walked smack dab into Marco Andretti. I apologized and complimented him on his pretty red car. He thanked me and asked if I might like to take a spin in it. Oh, how exciting!!! He told me I would have to put on a fire suit and helmet. I told him I look fabulous in a helmet, so bring it on!
Marco’s crew suited me up and right before I was to climb into the car, they put the helmet on me.

Holy mackerel (yum, mackerel!) The helmet weighed about three times what my whole body weighs. It felt like I had no neck and that my head was sitting on my shoulders. I tried to look cool, but my compressing neck was too distracting.
I motioned for them to take the helmet off - and they did - which was quite a relief.
Marco apologized – he should have realized that I was a delicate flower. He found a lighter helmet which meant I needed to drive a different car. Pink and red do NOT go together!! A proper car was found and I was ready to give it another go.

I started down the pit lane and the car was quite hard to control. There was so much power in the engine that I didn’t feel comfortable stepping on the gas. Thusly, I inched my way down the track. This wasn’t quite the thrill I had in mind!
Marco’s crew were determined to give me the full racing experience, so they put their heads together and came up with a plan. They told me to stay nearby and they would come back to get me shortly. I couldn’t wait to see what these engineering geniuses were going to do!
I squealed with delight when they rolled a tiny little race car out of the garage. It would fit me just perfectly! I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the red paint clashed with my pink helmet, so I tried not to think about it and just climb aboard for some fun!
It was still far enough before the race that there were a couple of cars out practicing on the track. They would slow down when they neared me so I could pretend I was racing them.

I had so much fun in my custom car. I drove around and around the track until I was the only one left on it. As the stands started to fill in, I figured I had better head back to the pits and find a good spot in which to watch the big race!
The stands were packed by the time the cars revved their engines and started on their quest to win the prestigious race. They went through the course over and over. The race was relatively uneventful until the very end. The crowd was cheering as a rookie headed for the last turn looking like he was going to do the impossible and win his first Indy 500. But then he slid too far right and hit the wall, leaving the door open for Dan Wheldon to slip by him and take the checkered flag.
Dan Wheldon had won the Indy 500 once before, but you never would have guessed it by how excited he was as he climbed out of his car. It took him a while to get out of the car – he took great pains to adjust his hat so it fit just right – a man after my own heart!
While he was busy adjusting his hat, I slipped into his pit area to find a spare fire suit so I would fit into the celebration with his crew. I arrived back at victory lane just as someone was placing a wreath of flowers around Dan’s neck. That must be one of the surprises the old gentleman was talking about! Dan saw me in my spiffy fire suit and came over to drape a piece of his wreath around my neck. I thought that the flower wreath was the coolest thing I had ever seen in an auto racing victory lane, until ….
I don’t know where he got it from, but when I turned back after congratulating some of the crew, Dan had a bottle of milk in his hand. What?!?!?!?!? Milk instead of champagne?!?!? This was GREAT! Dan handed me a bottle of my own and we toasted his win, then guzzled down a big swig.

The old gentleman was right. He knew I was going to be blown away by all the bottles of milk – and the surprise of it was fun!!
Next came the Borg-Warner Trophy. It was big and old and beautiful…and big…really big. Evidently, it was tradition to kiss it. Who was I to break with tradition. I puckered up my kitty lips and planted a big ol’ smackeroo on the trophy.

On to the next tradition…more kissing. For a bunch of macho race car drivers, there’s an awful lot of kissing going on! Dan and his crew lined up on the strip of bricks still left from the days of yore, knelt down and kissed the bricks. While this seemed really weird to me, I trotted over to Dan and laid down on the ground next to him and looked for the least dirty brick to kiss.

It took a while, but I found a brick nearly devoid of grime and gave it a quick peck.
The celebration continued on off the track, but I was too tired to join in. Experiencing so many new things at once can be exhausting, and I must say, I was exhausted. I headed back to the hotel for a loooooong nap knowing it would be a looong drive home the next day.
Well, that’s all for this tale. Hope you have a wonderful week.

Love & kitty kisses,

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