Reporting in the fast lane
For my article A Century of Tradition at Indy, I attended three separate events on three separate day: Community Day at the Indy Motor Speedway (IMS), the IPL 500 Festival Parade, and race day.
On Community Day I really enjoyed many things. I got to meet drivers Takuma Sato, Pippa Mann, and 3-time Indy 500 winner Helio Canstroneves. I also watched Alex Tagliani’s pit crew practice changing tires in only five seconds. I got to tour the famous Pagoda with a great view of the Yard of Bricks and the finish line. My hosts from IMS, Julie and Cassie, also spent a lot of time with me and even gave me a tour of the Media Center. After our tour, I got to help Cassie pick out a “Fan of the Day,” which is done daily at IMS. We chose a man who had been to 37 Indianapolis 500 races in a row.
At the IPL 500 Festival Parade, I was lucky enough to get a media pass. The celebrities in the parade enjoyed breakfast at the Downtown Indianapolis Library and then walked down the checkered carpet to talk to the media. In the media area, I met Indianapolis Star columnist Cathy Kightlinger. She and I stood next to each other as the celebrities walked out of the library. We both worked together and had so much fun doing it.
It was very exciting getting to talk to the 500 Festival Parade Grand Marshal, Anderson Cooper. I asked if he had any good tips for reporters like me.
“I think the most important thing is just to write a lot,” he said. “Even if you’re not a print reporter, if you’re a radio reporter or a TV reporter, learning and finding your voice is an important thing and it takes time.”
Although there are many long-standing traditions at IMS, this year they decided to try something new. To attract younger fans to the Indy 500, the IMS and Hot Wheels got together to build a life-sized Hot Wheels track with a 100-foot high ramp and 332 foot long jump! A mystery driver would make the jump and be announced after the stunt. The driver, Tanner Foust, completed the jump to the other side of the ramp, beating the world record by 31 feet.
After all the festivities it was finally race day. I will never forget the sound of the racecars and the blur of all thirty-three cars racing around the two-and-half mile long track for 200 laps. The exciting finish left everyone hanging. Nobody knew who won. Rookie JR Hildebrand crashed on his final lap on the final turn in first place. With just enough time before the yellow flag was raised, Dan Wheldon drove by Hildebrand to win his second Indianapolis 500.
Do you watch racing? Do you have a favorite driver? Let us know in the comments below!