Raceday Morning Ramblings from IMS

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Earlier this week, a friend asked me what time I was planning to arrive at the track on raceday. I said 3:30 a.m. He laughed and spit part of his drink out and said, “Oh my gosh, sorry, I thought you said ‘3:30’.” I looked him in the eyes and said, “Yep, I did.” He looked befuddled.

I get that look a lot when I talk about IndyCar. Folks don’t understand why I spend all my vacation time from my 40-hour-a-week job on race weekends. They can’t comprehend why I invest not only that time, but also my own money in traveling and writing about race cars, drivers, and a sport. When someone asks me why, I usually have the same response and it’s along the lines of: “What else would I spend it on?”

Truthfully. What else would I spend it on? Where could it be better invested? Some people go their entire lives searching desperately for something that ignites their soul, something that makes them happy to wake up every morning. Somehow, beyond all rationale, I found it at the age of 30. And I intend to hold on to it as long as I can.

Granted, the love of the sport has been a part of me since I was 3 years old. But the work side of it – the writing, the recording, the different mediums that it’s been brought to light through, that all started in Sept of 2013.

Sitting here almost five years later, in the media center of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the track so dark that the windows to my right are only serving as mirrors, I find myself in a state of peace and thankfulness. A familiar state for me whenever I am at a track. A few other media friends and I joke with each other that we’re ‘the luckiest kids in the world’ – that luck being a small part of what keeps us here. It’s the work, the writing, the photography, the social media, etc… that keeps us here. Some days are better than others. Some weeks, or even months are more productive than the last. And heck, sometimes even season to season is significantly different in regards to what we’re capable of, how involved we are, how deep into the material we can bury ourselves.

This year is definitely one of those differing years for me, in that my responsibilities back home and at my job have been piled on more than usual. Something that I will never regret because I’m one of those oddballs that actually loves the work they do on a daily basis. I work in sports medicine and I can’t get enough of it. But, trying to maintain and balance everything has been a challenge. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that to you guys. However, if you know me, you know that a challenge is not something that intimidates me. In fact, it drives me.

That drive is what pushes me to push myself. Even if that means waking up at 2:00 a.m. to be present for as much of my favorite day of the year as humanly possible.

A fellow media member and I went walking in the pits this morning around 4am. We chatted with yellow shirts, had chipper exchanges with local tv folks, and enjoyed the serenity of a quiet pit lane. The craziest thing about all of it, is knowing that she wasn’t awake yet. The track I mean, not my friend.

She’s still resting even as we speak, in preparation of the biggest day of the year. The sun is still below the horizon, keeping the surface slightly damp from last night’s rain storm. In less than an hour though, she’ll start to awaken.

The 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be one to remember. None of us know why yet, but she does. And in a matter of 10 hours, we’ll all be let in on her secret.

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Email: shay@livefullthrottle.net

Photo credit: Shay Hazen, Live Full Throttle