It is Tuesday and the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 is now two days gone. Healey and I return to our car after taking in The Speedway’s museum and a quick, impromptu chat with Donald Davidson, the “professor emeritus” of Speedway history. We get in and amble slowly through the infield roads. The vast track complex is largely empty. All cars gone. All huge shiny team transporters long on the road to Detroit for the next race. Track vehicles neatly parked. Motorhomes, the private sanctuaries of drivers, mostly gone except for a half dozen or so.
Tony Borroz attended the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28th, 2017. This series, Bricks And Bones, explores the cultural significance, endearing legacy, and the nitty-gritty phenomenon of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The prologue of this series here.
Chapter 1: Real Wrong here.
Chapter 2: St. Elmo’s Fire here.
Chapter 3: The Quiet Racer here.
Chapter 4: Hang Ten here.
Chapter 5: Female Perspective here.
Chapter 6: The Fearless Spaniard here.
Chapter 7: Speedway Legends here.
Chapter 8: Barrel Roll here.
Chapter 9: A Wide Face here.
Chapter 10: Among The Fans here.
Chapter 11: After The Storm here.
We wander back toward Gasoline Alley, Bill’s car idling along at a slightly-better-than-walking pace. A weary, strung out security guard half-heartedly waves us through a check point. The complex of garages are all shuttered behind steel roll-up doors . . . except for one. By who knows what reasoning, the remnants of Dale Coyne’s team are still there, doing a final load-out and catching up with spares for the race. We park and get out to say hello, and there, to my absolute and honest wonder is Sebastien Bourdais. He’s sitting/leaning on the back of a golf cart, talking with various team members as they walk by carrying the bits and pieces that make up a modern day racing team.
Sebastien seems none the worse for wear, despite sitting at an odd angle and orientation – no doubt due to the fact that ten days ago, he slammed into a wall in excess of 225 mph at an impact of 100 Gs, breaking his hip and fracturing his pelvis in seven places.
He’s actually rather chatty, although he seems slightly restless and agitated. When asked how he’s feeling he answers in a bit of a world-weary way, partially due to this being the 2,459th time he’s answered these same questions, but such questions are reminders he will not be racing for quite some time; weeks, months, who knows. Although talkative as is his usual self, he’s also a bit slow to answer. He is no doubt on enough painkillers to knock even Keith Richards on his ass.
We chat a bit more then take off, winding our way out through the track. We leave via the north entrance, slowly tooling by the lined up jet-driers and safety cars, and the garages and storage sheds necessary for putting on The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
We return home, to the leafy, tree-lined street of suburban middle America and I pause and look down the street as Bill goes inside. I think of Sebastien Bourdais, a man who shouldn’t even be here. A man of uncommon talent and bravery and skill. I think of concepts like “luck” and “risk” and “mortality.” But mainly I think of the racers. I think of Sebastien Bourdais.
I think of Sebastien Bourdais. I think of Sebastien Bourdais. I think of my friend/acquaintance/guy I met. I think of a man who should be dead. I think of a man who, but for the grace of God or Fate or Luck is still alive. I think of Sebastien Bourdais.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.
This series, Bricks And Bones, in its entirety can be found here.
Cover Photo: David Yowe.