Today, driving to the track, was the hardest of all four days. It was harder than yesterday when I was fearing the end of everything because today was the end, the last day.
Going to bed each night knowing I would be working at the best spot on the planet is something that can't be duplicated.
It had to come to an end (well, not really, they could race quarter midgets year round, couldn't they?) and today was it. I was determined to bring it home with a stellar performance and no mistakes, but today I was thrown a curve ball.
The first race, of 18, went smoothly, but at the end of the race I had to hand the winning driver the checkered flag while they were at a reduced speed (not an easy task!) and then I helped direct them to the exact spot where their car needed to be. This
meant I was going to interact with the drivers and parents.
I knew I could handle the parents just fine, but there's one thing I have never been good at and that is talking and being around kids. I never have been good because, for one, the eye contact game, but secondly I simply don't know how to be around kids. Do I need to be more goofy, or less smart? I always hated, when I was a kid, when adults would dumb themselves down around me. I don't want to make that same mistake, yet I know some of my words I use may go over their heads so all that being so I simply state the facts around kids and nothing more.
Race after race went by and some of the races were intense and could have been a prime chance for a blunder, but each race went w
ithout and errors. Kid after happy kid came to the victory area and I had a few interactions, and after a while it wasn't so hard to say a few words. One winner had the hardest time getting his car in the proper spot, then he couldn't pose properly so I told him, as he was pushing away, "See, winning was easy, this is the hard part." He laughed and smiled and said, "thanks, I know now this!"
As the day progressed I realized I was free. Totally free of all the normal thought processes and worries I endure. On top of all this I was part of the team and not having to
play the eye contact game and because it was sunny there was no odd looks as to why I was wearing sunglasses.
I knew though that with each race gone was one race closer to the end. I cherished each moment I had to actually think how great of a time I was having, which wasn't often because of the extreme amount of work and attention these races required.
It finally came, the final checkered flag and the day went without any issues at all. My fears from two days ago were all for not as parent after parent thanked me for such a brilliant display of flag waving. Normally I would be running away from any talk after an event, but eye contact was not an issues being behind the sunglasses.
Driving away from the parking lot where the track was towards the tunnel to 16th street was painful. On the first day as I came into the track my breath was taken from me, and again this time it was too, but not because I was in awe, but rather this time it was sadness. Leaving a place one finds to be the best place on Earth will always be hard, I guess.
I drove to Noble Roman's pm 10th street as I have been going there for as long as I can remember. My saddest thing of leaving Indianapolis and moving to Saint Louis at the age of 10 was that I would no longer be able to go to Noble Roman's.
I celebrated the week and savored what had been a once in a lifetime event. I was just the starter for the event and had little influence in how awesome of an event it was, but being a part of something at the Speedway is something I have wanted to do forever and I did it. Along the way I also discovered that the sunglasses have made a difference because I did things I don't normally do. Will this trend continue? Of course only time will tell.
Tomorrow morning, early, I will be driving home and will write something up if I get creative with a place I could go to test out another sunglasses social setting. Once I get home I don't think I will be going out as I am thoroughly tired and want nothing more than a quiet day.
Waking up tomorrow will be difficult. I will be headed home and not to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The past four days will only be a memory now and I hope I get the chance to do it again, someday. If I don't I will always remember the highs and lows flagging in the shadow of the pagoda. What an amazing time!