Memorial Day Weekend/The Great Day of Auto Racing: The Presidential Address

“Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.  It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory” -Gen. George S. Patton

What a great weekend for the sport of auto racing.  One Sunday in May encompasses three major genres: The Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

First off the Grand Prix of Monaco

Of the three major races in the day, the one I know the least about.  The Formula One (or Un as Talladega Nights refers to it) is a 78 lap, 261km  race around the 3.340km Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo.  Nineteen turns twist and turn through the streets of Monte Carlo with a hairpin so tight it seems as if the car comes to a stop.

As per this post the leader was Nico Rosberg, the pole sitter and the defending race champion, F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton was close behind.

The Indianapolis 500, the 98th running

I may never be able to drive a racecar professionally, however I do share one thing in common with both Indy and NASCAR drivers…I have kissed the yard of bricks at Indy.  First opened in 1909, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was paved with bricks, the entire speedway!  The 500 can seat up to 400,000 people during the event, making it the largest single day attended in all of sports.

After the 33 drivers take 200 laps around the relatively flat 2.5 mile course they receive the spoils of victory.  These spoils include: the Borg-Warner Trophy, the over five feet tall, 130 plus pounds of victory complete with bas-relief sculptures of each winners face on the trophy.  The winner also receives a wreath to drape over their neck and a cold glass of milk.  Though the Anchorman quote of “Milk [being] a bad choice” should apply here, in 1936 after Louis Meyer (multiple time champ of the race) asked for a glass of buttermilk, which his mother told him to drink on warm days to quench his thirst, thus the tradition was born.

So, who could win this year?  Could it be local drivers Marco Andretti or Sage Karam?  Defending champs Helio Castroneves or last years winner Tony Kanaan? Pole Sitter Ed Carpenter or 12th place starter, NASCAR Champion Kurt Busch?  It remains to be seen, after 500 miles we will all know.

The Coca-Cola 600

The final crown jewel in the NASCAR crown, after the Daytona 500 and Southern 500, the Coke 600.  It is the longest race in the NASCAR season, so you better get your popcorn and whatever beverage you may choose ready for a long evening.  Starting in light and going to dark, the Charlotte Motor Speedway (now named Lowe’s Motor Speedway) tests the teams, drivers, spotters and even fans.  In 2000, I saw Matt Kennseth win the 600 after two lengthy rain delays and going deep into the night, I think it was close to 2am when it finished!  That was such a race to see in person.

The aforementioned Kurt Busch is trying to become the 4th driver to race both the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 in the same evening.  The only driver to complete all 1100 miles of racing was Tony Stewart in 2001, his third Cup season!  With not having a driver to root for in the race (always have to get my Mark Martin reference into the post) I am excited to see who has the car to beat.  Kevin Harvick has a great chance today starting 11th.  Danica Patrick, who starts 4th is starting to come into her own as a driver on the 1.5 mile tracks and was fast, like her Stewart-Haas racing teammate Harvick.  Rookie Kyle Larson, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series, History 300 yesterday has a legitimate shot as well as Brad Keselowski in the Blue Deuce starting 2nd.  Yet, you can never count out the pole setter, Jimmie Johnson.  The 48 has owned the Lowe’s Motor Speedway (hmmm his sponsor is Lowe’s…) and is always stout here.

I am excited to see the racing today and hopefully it will be as exciting for me sitting and watching 1100 miles of racing as it is competing in it.

What is most important though is that not that we get a three day off in a row, yet it is a time to remember those men and women who have sacrificed their lives for us to be free and enjoy the spoils of freedom.  Please thank all service men and women you see this day and in the future because without them we would not be here.  Happy Memorial Day ya’ll!

Agree or disagree this has been the Presidential Address, thank you for your time, God Bless these United States of American and most importantly this ThunderBlog.

I am Jarred S. Barnes and I approve this message.

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