A Day at the Track

My parents are both from the Chicago area and they’re not exactly explorers, so although I was raised in Indy for the majority of my life, I never really felt ingrained in the culture here and I never felt like it was “my city.” There are so many practices and places that exist here that I’m completely oblivious to. Now that I’m somewhat of an adult, I can start my own adventures in the city that practically wired me from head to toe.

Two days ago, it was my first day at the track: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I vaguely remember driving by the IMS as a child speculating, wondering what it looked like inside, questioning its existence. Thankfully, I do not live entirely under a rock, so as I got older I realized that it was a race track and that racing was a highly celebrated phenomenon in Indianapolis.

I was also introduced to the concept of the Indy 500, but it never really aligned with my scene enough to keep my interest.

I go to Indiana University in Bloomington and we have our own baby version of the Indy 500. My preconceived notion was that it was an excuse for people to drink to their heart’s desire and ignore all their obligations for a week or so, which I feel is completely justified.

Yet, this past Tuesday, when PATTERN gave me the opportunity to finally step on the other side of my curiosity, something changed, not just about the track, but about my perception of Indianapolis and the culture here in general. All of the interns were separated into teams to participate in a scavenger hunt and the deeper we got into the game, the more my eyes were opened to new things.

First off, it is huge! There’s more than I expected to do and see in there. I saw race cars in the flesh, I saw the pagoda, and my team may or may not have gotten an autograph from a driver who I’ve never heard of, a lady never tells. Most importantly, I also saw families, friends, different people, probably from different parts of Indy or the world in general, existing in the same space for the same purpose and just overall having a good time.

Although I did not grow up hip to the IMS experience, I’ve always had a greater sense of appreciation for community. I now realize that IMS is just another safe space for a community, it is something for the people of Indy to be proud of and to look forward to. It has a history, a future and it brings people together. That’s something that can’t easily be replicated.

My team also won the scavenger hunt and I got a pretty cool goody bag. I can’t promise that I’ll ever return to IMS, but I can admit that it was an invigorating day outside of the office Tuesday, and I’m excited to see what else PATTERN will open my eyes to this summer.