Ten Worthless Opinions – Indy Social Media Garage Edition
Through some legerdemain, hocus-pocus, super moon cosmic connection, or dumb luck, I have been selected to be a blogger in the IMS Social Media Garage. I’m pretty sure it was a combination of more qualified writers being unable to participate and a deadline where the vivacious Cassie Conklin, one of the primary SMG mechanics, simply said, “We have one more spot to fill. Who’s next on the list?” However it happened, I’m just happy to park New Track Record in the garage for the month of May. I do have a few WO’s (worthless opinions) regarding the Social Media Garage and the first weekend of practice.
1. Bloggers are normally happy in the shadows. I mean, take a look at our pictures on the SMG web page. Yikes. Would you call us edgy, classy, or cool looking? How about old, fat, or geeky then? By and large, bloggers live on hope. We hope someone will read our opinions or laugh at our jokes. We hope that people will follow us on Twitter or comment on our stuff. And we hope for the blogger bonanza: money, swag, or credentials. In the case of the Social Media Garage…Yahtzee! We have been HOOKED UP. We are still doing it for free, and I haven’t seen any shirts or hats yet, but we scored credentials for the month of May. Normally, bloggers are told they can come in the back door and not to touch anything. The SMG people said come on in, and you can even sit on the furniture. It’s like the Jimmy Buffett song “Gypsies in the Palace.”  We are just taking advantage of the situation while we can. And I have to tell you, my family and friends now think I am an insufferable ass. Or as Steve Wittich (@stevewittich) said, “You mean more of an insufferable ass.” Well, yes.
2. I have always contended that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is really just a large Mom and Pop business. It’s family run, and the people you come in contact with in the ticket office, credentials office, the gift shop, and the museum are invariably friendly and helpful. Maybe it’s the business culture or Hoosier hospitality, but IMS people are just nice. After getting word that I was one of the chosen/lucky bloggers, I was instructed to head to the corner of 16th and Georgetown to pick up my credentials. I was hoping for Bronze Badge access, but was given a parking pass, a pass for race day pit/garage/grid access, and a Silver Badge. Since I previously purchased a Bronze Badge, there was some paperwork/computer issues to work through. Jennifer, one of the supervisors, was professional, pleasant, and helpful. I might add that the credentials office runs a tight ship. I would guess that not too many things fall through the cracks in there. To add to the festivities, Eric Hall (@Erock_in_Indy), one of the other SMG bloggers, was in the office with the same problem as I. We both felt like interlopers, waiting for someone to say, “Just a minute, you two. There’s been some mistake.” But we walked out clutching our badges and passes like kids gripping bags of candy on Halloween evening.
3. The sidewalk and lawn in front of the IMS office on 16th and Georgetown is a great place to see the various team personnel pick up their credentials. And the best part is they have to stand in line in the credentials office just like everybody else. I love the great equalizers in our society.
4. As Eric and I left the IMS offices, a woman who was picking up credentials at the window between us stopped to ask what was going on in there. She was friendly (Hoosier hospitality once again) and interested in our story. She introduced herself as Joan Parsons Voyles and very quietly, but with great pride, said that her father was a former 500 winner. Her father was Johnnie Parsons, the 1950 champion.  Stories are everywhere at Indy.
5. If you see Eric at the SMG this year, be sure to ask him who else we met in front of the IMS offices. And ask him where he got his picture that you see on the SMG webpage. It only looks like a mug shot.
6. Need another place to go to see the IndyCar personnel? Get to Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House on Main St. in Speedway early on any given practice morning. Good food and good people watching.
7. Opening Day at the track is just cool. The auto show behind the Pagoda this year was superb. Just assume the cars were beyond description. Even better was watching the blazer wearing judges making their choices. They talked, walked, dressed, and smelled like money. My favorite was the judge wearing a “Gulfstream” logo cap. Does he think we can’t tell he’s already rich? And I can mock him all I want because I absolutely know he does not read my blog. Small victory, I guess.
8. Planning to buy your beer at the track? The Foster’s Oil Can  holds 25.4 oz. of beer. At $7.00 a beer that’s only $3.50 for 12 oz. I dare you to find a better deal at any major sporting event. At New Track Record, we believe in value.
9. If you are a regular at the track and do not have a Bronze Badge, you are making a mistake. Walking through the garage is flat-out fun. The drivers are approachable, and you are up close to the action. (Thanks to Bryan Clauson, a Noblesville boy like myself, for taking time to talk to my son and I on Saturday. He’s genuine, and that is some of my highest praise.) Plus, having a badge is great just because you can feel special. And who doesn’t like that? It’s human nature. And for $100, you can feel special, too. Also, I found out that badge envy exists. Twice, people saw my badge, looked me up and down, and said, “Silver?” I smiled. If I only had a hat that said “Gulfstream” on it.
10. Oh. And there were some cars on the track, and they went kind of fast.
1. Here is a live version of “Gypsies in the Palace.” I hope I don’t get a cease and desist order. I hear JB is harsh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBpG-GEZLCE&feature=related
2. Here’s a link to Johnnie Parson’s Wikipedia page with an interesting story about the trophy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnie_Parsons
3. And of course, a link to Foster’s beer. Enjoy. http://www.fostersbeer.com/