"Holy Toledo!"

May 15, 2015

Indianapolis 500, Forever Memorialized on Video

Filed under: Auto Racing, Vintage Sports Video — Bill @ 4:28 pm

When the calendar page turns to the fifth month every racer knows. The gates swing open and Indianapolis Motor Speedway is ready for racing. We all know the old names, Unser, Foyt, Penske, Mears, Sneva, Andretti, the list goes on and on. This month marks another year and another generation hoping to have their face forever carved on the Borg Warner Trophy. Saturday is Pole Day as the current crop of racers vie for the coveted number one spot, hoping win the pole and lead the field to the green flag for the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

While I have never actually attended this race, I sure would like to take my father someday soon. I believe, as a racer, it is something one simply must do.

Remember back in the old days ABC would broadcast the race Sunday night, on a taped delayed basis? Not wanting to know who won, we would spend that entire day avoiding any news on the radio or TV. If someone started to discuss it they would quickly get hushed, “Don’t tell me, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know!”

1970 was a big year at our house, it was the first time we ever watched Jim McKay describe the Indy 500 on a color television, Holy Toledo! Because my Dad had met Bill Vukovich, and he was from near Fresno, CA we would always hope for him to succeed. For a few years former drag racer Danny Ongais drove at Indy, so we always rooted for him. In 1981 when he had his terrifying crash we all held our breath until we knew he would be okay. We were thrilled in 1977 when A.J. Foyt won in the red Gilmore, and we all shed a tear in 1986 when Bobby Rahal shared his milk in the winner’s circle with his longtime friend and partner Jim Trueman. Just eleven days later Trueman succumbed to cancer. Indy is like that, it will thrill you, frighten you, make you jump for joy, or hang or head in frustration, sometimes all in one day.

I guess for me what Indy really represents is my Dad. Between work, and him racing the drag boat, he was a busy man. He wouldn’t always sit through an entire football game, but he would always watch the entire Indianapolis 500. I would sit near by, listening intently as he taught me so many things about racing. I knew I could ask questions, but I wouldn’t ask too many, I didn’t want to be a pest. We would discuss down-force, the advantages of soft rubber tires, and the virtues of a fuel tank bladder, it was great. To this day I can still get under his skin by singing loudly the words to “Back Home In Indiana”. These days we don’t usually watch the race together, but I always make a point of it to call him after the race to discuss it at great length. It is for all of these reasons that I’ve always thought they should move Father’s Day to coincide with Indy.

At some point I started taping the Indy 500 with my vcr. For several years the tradition in our family was that we spent Memorial weekend at Dad’s lake house. It was great fun, but too often unexpected visitors would drop in, thus interrupting our viewing of the race. Days later, while back at home I discovered the joy of watching the race again in a quiet room. One rainy afternoon many years later I was going through a box of old vhs tapes and found one unlabeled. That was the day I realized how much fun it was to watch an old Indy 500 race, plus the old commercials were pretty darn cool as well. Being somewhat compulsive, I searched for all my old Indy 500 tapes, organized and labeled them, and I’ve been collecting them ever since.

Fortunately the vhs tape went the way of the old guy holding up a chalk board to get a signal to the driver, they are long gone. Now all my old tapes have been converted to high quality dvd. With the help of some friends, the collection is quite impressive these days. I now have 45 years of Indianapolis 500 races on dvd dating back to 1967, including every race since 1977.

Of all the races the ones I enjoy watching the most are those old tape delayed broadcasts with Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart, shot with the old cameras on old film. You close your eyes, let your mind wander for a minute, and just like that you are sitting on the old couch next to you Dad watching the Indianapolis 500.

Here is my list of Indianapolis 500 races on dvd.

1967 Indy 500
1969 Indy 500
1970 Indy 500
1971 Indy 500
1973 Indy 500
1974 Indy 500
1975 Indy 500
1977 Indy 500
1978 Indy 500
1979 Indy 500

1980 Indy 500
1981 Indy 500 Qualifying
Pole Day
3rd Qualifying Day
Bump Day
1981 Indy 500
1982 Indy 500
1983 Indy 500
1984 Indy 500 *3 disks
1985 Indy 500 *3 disks
1986 Indy 500 *3 disks
1987 Indy 500 *3 disks
1988 Indy 500 *2 disks
1989 Indy 500

1990 Indy 500 *2 disks
1991 Indy 500 *3 disks
1992 Indy 500 *3 disks
1993 Indy 500 *3 disks
1994 Indy 500 *2 disks
1995 Indy 500 *2 disks
1996 Indy 500 *3 disks
1997 Indy 500 *3 disks
1998 Indy 500 *3 disks
1999 Indy 500 *3 disks

2000 Indy 500 *3 disks
2001 Indy 500 *3 disks
2002 Indy 500 *3 disks
2003 Indy 500 *3 disks (C- quality)
2004 Indy 500 *3 disks
2005 Indy 500 *3 disks
2006 Indy 500 *3 disks
2007 Indy 500 *3 disks
2008 Indy 500 *2 disks
2009 Indy 500 *2 disks

2010 Indy 500 *3 disks
2011 Indy 500 *4 disks
2012 Indy 500 *3 disks
2013 Indy 500 *3 disks
2014 Indy 500 *3 disks


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