Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Tale From A Rainy Day

Wet socks weather
I didn't want to go to Pocono today. I knew it was going to rain. It was 100% chance of thunderstorms last Sunday. I knew the race wouldn't be started.  All I could think of all week was the car getting stuck in the muddy parking lot.

This race couldn't have been scheduled for a worse time. Actually, the scheduling wasn't the problem. This race had been scheduled for months. I couldn't have started a new job and relocated at a worse time. I am exhausted. I have been on trains, touring apartments and trying to learn new names, faces and bus schedules. I wanted a day off and attending a race isn't a day off. It is a chore. Make sure you have the tickets, pack your bag/cooler, charge your cellphone, get in the car, drive over an hour or two, find a parking spot, try to remember that parking spot despite no markers and no distinguishing landmarks, have the bag checked and then try and fill the time before green flag and then try and find your seat. And then you have to rush the exits with the 15,000-20,000 other people you attended the race with and navigate traffic. It sucks. Why do people do it? Why do I do it?

The parking lot wasn't full. I am not sure I have ever parked that close to the front door. I walked in and the place wasn't a ghost town but I breezed through the line to get validated for paddock access. Inside, it felt more like an NASA regional event. A couple hundred people were hanging around but it wasn't as suffocating as last year.

Drivers are magnets. One gets noticed and two fans go over for autographs. Then another four notice and go over for autographs. Then two-dozen people scamper over and the driver is heading for his hauler doors. Some drivers have a stronger attraction than others. People swarm the colorful haulers of Andretti, Penske and Ganassi and the teams put up barricades to create a buffer zone. The teams on the end, Foyt and Coyne, don't put up barricades. While Graham Rahal stands on the steps and preaches to the congregation, Conor Daly is chatting with two blonde women. A few approach for handshakes but they move along. Gabby Chaves is sitting on a golf cart and no one bothers him. If he were entered in the #19 Honda would it be any different?

The bright side of this rainy day was I got a lot of nice photos of drivers and cars, preparing to race and those of years yonder. I actually like that Pocono has had vintage IndyCars at the race the past two years. I almost feel it is something that could help the race if it could be coupled with historic cars. I know the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca was happening simultaneously with the Pocono race but perhaps Pocono could become a destination for those on the east coast who couldn't make it out west. Probably not though.

It was a beautiful day at 8:00 a.m. ET and it was nice until about noon. Some were in denial trying to talk away the rain even when it spat on their camera lens. The pavement darkened. Green flag time approached. I was waiting by the exit. I knew it was going to be called. The driver introductions just kept providing some with false hope. Others saw through the attempt to act like everything was going to plan when it was clear conditions weren't getting any better. I knew they were going to wait to 3:00 p.m. ET. They were waiting for the television window. It is aggravating for attendees. If IndyCar was going to wait until 3:00 p.m. ET to decide whether or not to postpone the race, just tell the people that. Simple communication, like a quick announcement over the public address system, is all attendees want and it goes a long way. People don't want to be left in the dark or in this case pouring rain.

I headed to the car at 2:45 p.m. ET. I figured I would wait there until hearing the announcement and then I would go. I checked my phone at 3:00 p.m. and there was the confirmation of what I expected for over 24 hours. I started the car and headed home. Tomorrow I will repeat the steps just a few hours earlier and while negotiating the throngs of people heading to work and dreading another Monday.