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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Volume 6: Indy 500 Dreams

Today’s question: This Friday, Feb. 19, will mark 100 days until the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Fans are encouraged to watch Takuma Sato unveil his image on the Borg-Warner Trophy at 1 p.m. (ET) at ims.com/100Days. Aside from hopefully seeing race fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, what aspect of the “500” are you most looking forward to celebrating Sunday, May 30?

Curt Cavin: My answer might be surprising since it has little to do with the race itself. I have long enjoyed the pace of race morning, slow at first but revved up as the command to start engines approaches. It’s the early coffee and donuts with colleagues in the Media Center, and a walk through the garage area to see the many friends I have spent the month with, including members of the IMS Safety Patrol and fans I have known for years. I never miss taking a stroll up pit lane to see the crews making final adjustments to their pit boxes and seeing the cars pushed out to the track. There is an indescribable energy that builds through anticipation; it’s slow, steady and sure. For me, the cap to the morning is the singing of “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” and the release of the balloons, a time to reflect to the generations of those who came here before us. That’s when I’m ready to see a race.

Zach Horrall: What a tough question. Obviously, I want to say everything! But if I have to pick one thing, it is to get some of our traditions back and experience an at-least somewhat normal Indianapolis 500 pre-race ceremony. Those final moments before the race are some of the most special moments of the entire year. Even though they were there in August, we didn’t truly get them. There were bigger things going on in the world, and our minds were preoccupied with that and the lack of race fans in attendance. But this May, we’ll get to experience “Taps,” “God Bless America,” the national anthem, “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” the command to start engines and so much more on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 2019. It will feel so right, maybe even a little normal as we head into a summer that could see some sense of normalcy return to our daily lives. Not to mention, we’ll experience those beautiful moments 110 years to the day of the very first Indy 500. Now that is cool.

Paul Kelly: Well, I’m going to cheat a bit and give two answers. The first is very simple: I just want to hear race cars roaring at full song in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has become such a mental and aural tentpole of my life since I started working for the track and series in 1998. That sensation probably was something I started to take a bit for granted. Not anymore. Not after last year. I missed the sweet song of turbocharged V6’s in May so much. The GMR Grand Prix and 104th Indianapolis 500 were fine races in July and August, respectively, but it wasn’t MAY. If you love that month like we do, you get what I’m trying to say. Finally, on a personal note, this year’s Race Day will be special because it falls on my birthday. The privilege and pleasure of working the Indy 500 is the ultimate birthday gift. I won’t disclose my age on Race Day, but don’t be surprised if I give myself a little, private fist pump on Lap 56.

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