In 49 other states, it’s the month of May. But in Indiana—Indianapolis, to be precise—it is now THE MONTH OF MAY. I don’t expect you to quite understand it if you aren’t from here or don’t live here. The Month of May (yes, it’s capitalized) is the annual monthlong run-up to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing: The Indianapolis 500.
The Month of May, I’ve always said, is punctuated by a series of Days. These Days are what Indy 500 fans live for, every Month of May:
* Opening Day
* Pole Day
* Bump Day
* Carb Day
* Race Day
I pity you if these Days require explanation. 🙂
The Yard of Bricks
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is alson known as The Brickyard, because the original track was made of bricks. While the 2.5-mile oval is now paved, a one-yard strip of bricks remains exposed at the start-finish line. While the track is best known for open-wheel racing, it was NASCAR’s Dale Jarrett who began the tradition of race winners kissing the bricks after winning the 1996 Brickyard 400.
Back Home Again in Indiana
The traditions around the Month of May are just as beloved in Indianapolis as the race itself. The 500 Festival Mini-Marathon this weekend is the official kickoff to the festivities, followed by several events leading up to the race. Most fans know about the annual 500 Festival parade, but one of my favorite traditions is the remembrance service held at Monument Circle on the Friday before the race. It is a somber event honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The ceremony includes a caisson with a flag-draped casket, a riderless mount and a military flyover to close.
While that is the most meaningful of all Month of May traditions, my favorite is, without question, “our friend” Jim Nabors and his singing of Back Home Again In Indiana. I know it sounds corny, but this is the one tradition that gets me every year. By the time he gets to “When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,” I know I’m not alone in getting teary-eyed.
That, of course, leads to the five most-famous words in racing:
…and Mario is slowing dowwwwwwwwwwwn.
I’m kidding! It’s actually six words, now: Ladies & Gentleman, Start Your Engines.
It’s Indy in the Month of May. And now you have a little idea of what it means here in Indianapolis.