A Spinning Top of Devilish Excess: My Cross-Cultural Re-Experience at the Indy 500

Alexander Rossi Indy 500

I’m from the Midwest. Some would argue it isn’t one hundred percent the most Midwest state you can be from, but then what else would you classify Ohio as, smart guy? It sure as shit isn’t the mid-Atlantic, and don’t even tell me it is Appalachia. Ohio is the Midwest, no matter how much pride some Nebraska student wants to argue it isn’t.

Now that you know I’m coming from, this kind of “I can make fun of this because I lived it” situation, I am free to be about as critical as I want of my fellow Americans at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. There’s a lot to dissect. I saw a lot of things that won’t leave my mind for years to come.

There is a lot of history steeped in Speedway, Indiana (yes, the racetrack sits in an enclave as its own incorporated city, inside the larger metropolis of Indianapolis). And to be honest, a lot of the people that go to the event are race fans (about 350,000 of them attended this year’s momentous race), but for the purposes of this article, we spent our time in the 1,025 acres that make up the infield of the track.

Almost 250,000 people sat in the stands to watch really fast cars go around an oval 250 times. They have to be interested in the race to sit in the sun for four hours, but the real focus is those other 100,000 people who aren’t sitting in the stands – the people who were too busy raking giant dongs into the sand trap of the golf course situated in the infield, the drugged-up teenagers running around without any kind of recourse, the large men laying on asphalt after over-consumption. The real, down-to-earth PEOPLE who make up a large part of the spectacle that goes into the “Largest Spectacle in Motorsports.”

Quickly, a few points to cover on background for the event. The race starts at 12:19 PM, and it is customary to get there as early as 8:00 AM. Going to the Indy 500 is an all-day event that ends when you get back to your house and take a nap. On the way in, on the way out, while walking around, while eating, you are expected to be drinking beer (and we did). People wait all year for this. It is a big deal.

The Snake Pit

Indy 500 Infield

The Indy 500 Infield.

Why is this a thing!? Who thought it was a good idea to have a bunch of molly-peddling “DJs” start playing their faux-dubstep remixes at 10:00 AM to a crowd of kids who are mostly too young to consume alcohol!? Did it not cross anyone’s mind that if these kids aren’t allowed to drink the gallons of beer flowing around the race track that they’re going to go off and find some other kind of recreational drug to get into? I can only imagine the holes forming in their pubescent brains…

ing “DJs” start playing their faux-dubstep remixes at 10:00 AM to a crowd of kids who are mostly too young to consume alcohol!? Did it not cross anyone’s mind that if these kids aren’t allowed to drink the gallons of beer flowing around the race track that they’re going to go off and find some other kind of recreational drug to get into? I can only imagine the holes forming in their pubescent brains…

We walked into this cesspool at about 9:45 AM, and we were late to the party. After having a few beers and walking around, watching teenagers sway not to the beat of the song, but to the beat going on in their addled-up minds, we couldn’t take much more. After 30 minutes of standing around, I saw at least three kids with 1,000-yard stares being ushered out by security straight to the line of police waiting to get their hands on some punks. Time to move on. One can only handle so much body shaming in one day.

Strangers

Back in high school, I remember that it was kind of fun to mess around with strangers. It was okay to yell at people, cause a bit of a scene, and try to get reactions. People who have yet to enter adulthood often don’t make the best decisions. But, after the third nearing-middle-age-guy runs up and yells in someone’s face just for the hell of it, it gets a little old. No, I don’t want to give you the attention you so greatly crave.

Bathrooms

For transparency, I live in the liberal bastion that is Washington, DC. Here we have begun to make real progress for civil rights. Granted, I don’t think that everyone in any area of the country is automatically un-progressive. I know a lot of good people in all areas, but walking into the Indy 500, you can tell that there are quite a few people not on board with LGBT rights and don’t want to debate the subtle differences between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns. I have a lot of very forward-thinking friends from Indiana. The people frequenting the infield of “the 500” are not those people.

Every damn time we walked into the bathroom, we heard the same tired jokes. “Better make sure you aren’t no woman walking in here!” “Thanks, Obama!” First of all, as someone who likes to sling some comedy from time to time, I was offended by the lack of originality. Also, and I think this goes without saying, WHO GIVES A SHIT WHAT YOU IDENTIFY AS!? WE ALL HAVE TO USE THE BATHROOM SOMETIMES AND NO, JIM BOB, NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK AT YOUR SCRAGGLY WIENER. Fair?

Families Brought Together

It isn’t all bad. I had a blast, and definitely had my fill of beer (Coors Light is easy drinking on a sunny day). My hosts are lovely people who make going to the race as a family a yearly tradition. I would go back.

It is fun to make fun of those we don’t have to share our daily lives with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the cross-cultural experience that is something new and exciting. If you’re thinking of going, then I say go, but just be ready for a lot of loud people and extra loud cars. Seriously, the cars are super loud. It is unbelievable.

Also, some young guy won! That was cool, I guess!

 

 




B. Joseph Jackson

Author: B. Joseph Jackson

Professional Goober. Receive unwanted tweets from him @bripbrop.

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