Friday, we left for Indianapolis. My parents came down to visit and go with us. Somehow, my wife and I convinced both of our sets of parents to accompany us on the trip this year. And furthermore, we were able to convince them to do the driving. This involved having my parents come down from Washington, DC to visit us and drive to Indiana. We drove, stopping for a few breaks, until we got to our hotel in Greenburg, IN. It's the same hotel we stayed in last year. My wife's parents were already there, having taken a leisurely trip to Indiana starting a few days earlier.
Saturday, we got up and headed to the track for qualifying, practice, and the IROC race. Loads of fun. Hot. Very hot. But loads of fun. Unlike last year, my favorite driver (Kyle Petty) actually qualified! My favorite competitive driver (Dale Jarrett) is my wife's favorite driver, and he qualified pretty well. We got to watch the IROC race, which Dale Jarrett led from start to finish. That was pretty exciting. Then we watched a little bit of the practicing. The day was wearing on, so we decided to go check out the infield and the speedway museum before heading back to the hotel. It's been about 10 years (more?) since I've been in the speedway museum and it was just as neat as I remembered it. After the museum, we headed back to the car and packed it in for the day.
Sunday. Race day. We got up nice and early and headed out. (Our hotel is about 50 miles away from Indianapolis so we didn't have to pay the outrageous race weekend prices in town.) Once we got close to the track, we sat in traffic for a while (an hour? two hours? more?) before pulling into a neighborhood and finding someone’s front yard to park in. With permission -- most of the people who live near the track rent spaces in their yard for $15-$20 a space for the race. We had some time before the race started, so we chilled out in Lowell's yard and chatted with him. We drank some water and gathered the stuff we were bringing into the track. Eventually, we decided it was time to head to the track and found that it was just a very, very short distance from where we parked to the track entrance. One of the guys in the neighborhood was using his riding mower and a trailer to provide rides to the track entrance, so we took him up on it. Once we got to the track, we found a nice piece of shade to rest in before heading to the stands. It would have been nice to go to our seats to watch some of the pre-race festivities, but it was simply too hot.
Once it got time for driver introductions, we did head to our seats, where we sat until the race was over. Quite an enjoyable race, overall. We were all really saddened that Dale Jarrett had a mishap in his final pit stop that definitely cost him second place, perhaps cost him a win. But it was nice to see Bill Elliott win.
After the race, we headed back to the car and chilled out in Lowell's front yard again to let traffic die down a bit. Eventually, we decided to leave. This time, my wife and I traveled with her parents, who were going to bring us back home. My parents headed back to their home. We drove until we were a little bit out of town and stopped at the Cracker Barrel for supper. Then we drove back to Greenburg and stayed the night.
Monday morning, we got up and drove to Cincinnati. We got there about lunchtime and spend the rest of the day at the zoo. I really enjoyed seeing the elephants. The rest of us also enjoyed seeing the polar bears and the frog exhibit that they are currently showing. After leaving the zoo, we drove to Louisville to stay the night.
Tuesday morning, we got up and drove around in Louisville for a little, enjoying the scenery. Then we went to Churchill Downs and took all the tours they offer. It was really neat to see where they run the Kentucky Derby. I bought a tie, which I'll wear every year at Derby time. Then we headed out the Labrot & Graham distillery where they make bourbon. That was a most excellent tour. The distillery is located in a beautiful area in Kentucky and the folks at the distillery are really, really nice. After the distillery, we headed off to Frankfurt, where I took one more step in my plan of getting my picture taken in front of every state capital building. We also got to see Daniel Boone's grave. Then we drove to about Lexington and found a place to stay the night.
Wednesday morning, we got up and started the last leg of our journey. We stopped in a small town along the way and did some antique shopping. That was pretty fun. Then we headed on for the home stretch. When we found ourselves going through Hickory, we saw signs for Dale Jarrett Inc., and tried to stop there. Alas, they were closed. But Hickory isn't too far a drive for us, so we'll probably go out there some other time.
We made it home Wednesday evening and I grilled us some supper. My wife's parents finished their trip home to Raleigh. And I went to sleep.
All in all, we had a great trip. The race was very, very hot, but it was still fun. We're going to the Darlington race in a few weeks and will probably go the Martinsville race in October. And I'm already thinking about next year's trip!