The Field Is Set

Today, Lil' Boilerdowd and all of the males in the Boilerdowd family headed to IMS to watch Bump Day. It was LBD's first visit to the track with cars running...and he fought off feeling a little under the weather to enjoy a pretty eventful afternoon of qualifying. An added bonus to the day, was that I got to connect with fellow Purdue Blogger, race fan and all-around good dude, T-Mill for the afternoon, and Mrs. T-Mill* to boot.

I'm going to try not to bore you non-race fans with too much of this...and for those of you who think I shouldn't be writing this because it's supposed to be all-Purdue sports, all the time- let me remind you of a few things. First, it's not your site. Second, we never said the site would be only Purdue sports...and actually, four years ago, we wrote a lot more about non-Purdue sports than now. But, this time of year, as the Purdue news continues to slow to the pace of molasses out of the tap at winter in Vermont, we're left with few options. But I digress.

Growing up in Indy, my brothers and I loved CART/Indy Car racing. And outside of race day, one of our favorite track visits each year was Bump Day. While I'm not a fan of the shootout format adopted this year, Bump Day is still, with a few tweaks, as dramatic as it was 20 years ago.

If you watched it on TV, you know there were some questionable moves toward the end of the day that left Paul Tracy and others on the outside looking in. But, the best drama for me and many others was watching Tony Kanaan and his team do everything possible with a machine (or two maybe) that simply has not been right since the team arrived at the greatest track in the world.

I love this guy, but have never met him. I'm not typically like this about athletes, but I am just a big fan TK. In fact, when he came out for his qual run around 5:25 today, I was nervous for him.

Years ago, my Dad was good friends with a driver who had some good years at Indy, but had some struggles toward the end of his driving career. One recurring theme during that period was a mad dash to get a ride, shake it down and qualify it, all in about 5 hours on Bump Day. Our family's hopes and heartbreak on those Sundays rode along with Johnny Parsons, Jr.

It felt weirdly-similar today as we watched Kanaan scramble and struggle. And as he turned four very-fast laps and placed himself solidly into the field, it was tough not to admire the grit and struggle of this guy and his team.

Sure, J Money mocks race fans as a blood-thirsty bunch whose passion for Indy Car, Neckcar or other leagues is nothing more than a love of twisted metal and splintered carbon fiber. But, the nuance of racing is what I love. Today was a great example of why the little details and moments during a race weekend make it great to me.

I've said it before, The Indianapolis 500 isn't my first love in sports, you all know what that is. But I love the month of May in Indy (or at least two weeks, for now) and if nothing else, it's a diversion as I pine my time until the fall.

*photo might or might not be Mrs. T-Mill


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