#40 The Indy 500

Well, no surprise here.  The Indianapolis 500.  The greatest spectacle in racing….a Memorial Day tradition, even for some of us who have never been to a race track and will probably never go. 

SSOMG remembers some of the highlights and some of the names that have made the race famous, especially those over the last 60 years. 

– Parnelli Jones

– AJ Foyt

– Mario Andretti

– Rick Mears

– Al Unser

– Helio Castroneves

– Roger Penske

– Danica Patrick

How would we ever know those names without Indy?  For me, and I think so many, the Indianapolis 500 is just a part of the American culture.  It fits in there rather well with the Kentucky Derby and the Masters Golf tournament and the World Series and the Super Bowl; the NBA finals; the All Star Game; The Final Four.

The unique thing about the Indy 500 is that the race was not broadcast on TV until 1986.  That’s crazy.  But that is probably why I remember it so well…listening to this thing on the radio growing up I was able to hear the sounds and imagine the racers.  Of course I remember listening to so many of sports great moments on the radio.  For instance, I never saw Koufax pitch a no-hitter, or Franco Harris make the Immaculate Reception in 1972, or The Catch, – the miracle pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark putting the 49ers in the Super Bowl, 10 years later.  But I caught them all on radio.

In today’s generation of ESPN, with every local ballgame being on the TV, the radio broadcast has certainly taken a back seat.  SSOMG must admit however, that the Memorial Day TV broadcast this year will be missed.

The Indy 500, version 2020 has been postponed for this year.  It is now scheduled for late August, so we will see what happens between now and then. 

However, another Memorial Day tradition will continue as planned.  Though not a sporting event, this tradition holds even much greater value than those 33 cars speeding around that 2.5 mile-oval brick-yard track.  Despite the Covid-19, the planting of over 240,000 American flags will go on at Arlington National Cemetery this weekend to honor those that have fallen in battle while protecting our country.

SSOMG takes a moment to pause and honor that tradition, and remember what Memorial Day is really all about; not just Rick Mears’ four Indy championships, or Mario Andretti’s disappointments or Roger Penske’s fabulous success; but those who have served and in some cases given their ultimate sacrifice so that we at home could enjoy those radio & TV broadcasts of a race that has continued annually since 1911.  We hope that the 2020 Indy race will go on in August, and continue to serve as a national remembrance of a race that our Veterans have won that has made us all victorious.

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