Last year I found out that my friend Heather had “attend the Indy 500″ on her 40 x 40 list. I remember looking at her and saying “I’ll get you there, I know people.” I have a feeling she dismissed my claim in her head thinking “Yeah, of course you’ll get me to the Indy 500.”
Oh I got her there alright.
Let me back up.
Early last week I got an email asking me if I’d like to get a group of friends together and take them to meet Mario Andretti at a local Macy’s on Friday night, they said they’d compensate me for my time in organizing everyone and give me money to take them out to dinner afterwards. I was just excited to be able to hang out with my friends, I never imagined it would end up as one of the craziest and coolest experiences of my life.
Eleven of us ended up meeting at Macy’s and as we waited in line to meet Mario, a dance off for four suite tickets to the Indy 500 on Sunday was announced.
This is where the fact that I have very little shame and a whole lot of experience with Dance Central comes in handy. I turned to Heather and said “When I win, you’re going with me.”
Not if, when.
Y’all, I danced like I have never danced in my life. I’m not even sure one could call what I was doing dancing, it was more like organized flailing using every body part I owned. I could barely breathe, as I saw the judges tapping out people one by one I knew I had to keep going, it was getting too close to the end.
I couldn’t see anyone or anything else around me, I was in the dance off zone. I thought I heard the word “WINNER!” but wasn’t about to risk slowing down and being tapped out, that’s when I looked at my friends and they were all shouting “YOU WON!”
Then this happened:
They handed me my four suite passes and said “PUT THEM IN YOUR PURSE, ZIP IT UP AND RUN.”
Y’all, I couldn’t breathe properly for about an hour.
Two minutes later I was up on a little stage with Mario Andretti and 10 of my most treasured people from the Internet, tickets in hand.
I wheezed a “Hello” and a “Thank you for meeting with us” to Mr. Andretti before I crawled off the stage to collapse again. I texted Cody “I just won four suite passes to the Indy 500″ to which he responded “Of course you did.“
I took my friends out to dinner and felt really important when I did that fancy “Check please” wave to our server. When he asked “Will these all be separate?” I said “Nope, just on one please.” Took all I had not to throw a bunch of dollar bills in the air. We had a fantastic night, but the fun wasn’t over yet.
Early Sunday morning we set out with Heather and Cody’s friend Steve to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We parked at least two miles away but once we made it to those top bleachers and “Drivers to your cars!” was announced? I forgot all about the sweltering heat and ridiculous walk. The sound of an Indy Car is one of the greatest sounds in existence and it only gets better when they drop that green flag for the first time and they take off on their 200 lap race to the finish.
Our suite tickets allowed us access to the IZOD suite that was almost too chilly compared to the hottest race day ever out on the track. Putting our first world problems aside we drank water, watched the leader board change with almost every lap and filled up on tacos and peanut butter cups. I can see why people do this every year. I can even see why people sit out on metal bleachers for 3 hours to watch cars go around a track 200 times in direct sun (although my alabaster skin was wildly grateful for the shade and air conditioning.)
It took all I had not to pester the other people in the suite about how they had gotten their tickets. I’ll bet none of them danced to get in, that’s for sure.
It was a completely different experience than when I went in 2010, aside from Dario Franchitti winning again and the endless goosebumps I would get every time the cars drove past. I don’t think it matters how you experience the race, it just matters that you do. And you should. It’s indescribable and amazing.
Just like I said two years ago, “Go once, you’ll get it.“
Thanks to IZOD for letting me dance my brains out to win seats in their suite, thanks to Mario Andretti and Macy’s for letting me sweat all over both of them and a special thanks to Be Everywhere PR for allowing me this opportunity that turned into an absolute experience.