Indy F1 & The Hoosier Corral
by Bob Morin
For the fifth straight year Sheila and I traveled to Indianapolis for the Formula One weekend. This year, the race was moved from its traditional late September weekend to June so that the teams could avoid an additional round trip across the Atlantic, since the Canadian Grand Prix was the weekend before Indianapolis . Formula One had been absent in the U.S. for quite a few years before Tony George persuaded Bernie Ecclestone that Indianapolis could build an infield road course and would be the ideal spot to re-introduce U.S. fans to the U.S. Grand Prix. The first race was in 2000 and had great attendance, including a huge international contingent. Each year, attendance has declined and with the exception of the always spirited Columbians who come to route for Juan Pablo Montoya, the international crowd has definitely dwindled. However, it was announced at this year’s race, the last in the original five year agreement, that the two-year option would be picked up and the race has life for at least another two years.
The best part about being a BMW fan in Indianapolis has to be the corral that the Hoosier Chapter hosts each year. It started out as a great attraction from the start, but every year they find a way to improve upon it. The corral is located only about a block from the track, so the first benefit participants get is preferred parking. Friday night and Saturday night, there is great food. Sunday morning, there is a breakfast to start your day. Between all this, there is always plenty of beer, soda, bottled water, popcorn and other snacks. You’re encouraged to fill your pockets each day as you head off to the track. For the last two years, they’ve even arranged to have a BMW Williams at the corral on Saturday. This year, they increased the size of the tent to accommodate more people. Attendance hovered around 300+ enthusiasts the last few years. On Saturday night they hold an auction, with proceeds split between The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and another charity. Great items are donated from all around the country and participants enjoy it so much that many even bring items to contribute to the cause.
Unfortunately, the racing has always been a disappointment, especially for the BMW fan. Last year, after the two BMW Williams collided in the very first turn of the race to cause another disastrous result ; we were even considering skipping the race this year and just watching on the big screen TV from under the tent while enjoying the camaraderie of the rest of the weekend. However, the race is blacked out locally, so that idea was soon set aside.
Due to the aforementioned decreasing attendance, the section in which we usually sit was actually closed for this year’s race, so we moved to a location in the Northwest Vista . The seats were terrific, except that they are completely exposed, to sun and rain, whichever the case. The old seats were under cover. Luckily, we got a cooler, less humid, sunny race day, but I don’t see that luck holding every year. As it was, the sun really got to Sheila on race day.
Most of you know by now that it was another BMW Williams nightmare. Ralf still has not driven since the injuries he received in a very high speed crash on the main straight and Montoya was disqualified after changing to his back-up car at the start and working his way up to as high as second place. There was a very unusual rate of attrition this year and the biggest excitement was the Minardi team scoring its first Championship point. Of course, to no one’s surprise Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari were victorious once again.
We’ll be back again next year as it is becoming like Oktoberfest for us; we’d go just for the visit with our friends each year. Thanks again to Barbara O’Brien and the whole Hoosier group for their great hospitality once again this year.
Barbara O'Brien at Indy.