…joy turned to shock as we discovered.. the beer’s nearly ALL GONE!!
Suddenly everything became difficult. Indecision reigned. The heat haze of 90-degree, May 29, seemed to choke our beer and meat-addled brains’ ability to comprehend reality. The steamy grass and gravel confines of Lot 2 had suddenly become a desperate place tinged with the smell of panic. Our ranks constricted into a more defensive posture. Even the slightest of issues so easily dispatched just minutes earlier, became cause for alarm. Gravel dust and sweat were mating with abandon on my skin. There are GRASS BLADES AND DIRT IN THE ICE SLURRY!!
This trip will NOT end like this. We have the entire Indianapolis-fuckin’-500 tomorrow. The time to overcome obstacles was now. First up, each man took a quick inventory of beverages consumed. Preliminary calculations went beyond initial comprehension. In times like this it’s almost as if the brain understands it is no longer functioning at 100 percent, furiously ignores the messages and signals from the most-affected area, and allows for basic logic and math calculations to be performed.
Through some well-thought-out teamwork, we were able to arrange a party for supplies. When they returned with two cases to last the remaining 20 hours, we were surprised with the extended bonus of cheap cigars and magazines whose theme seemed to revolve around a poorly-lit, yet vaguely art-like appreciation for the female form, complete with pages and pages of telecommunication ads, all in a foreign language that appeared to be Russian. I took this as a sign that things would be OK. For what remained of the now-scant daylight hours, we set about a final straightening of the camp site.
A sense of order restored, we settled back into our chairs, reconvening around our re-stocked cooler and makeshift soft-sided pictorial gallery. We offered thanks for the fresh beer and a return to a more serene, seated conversation as our Wisconsin neighbors set about foraging for local food and investigating the rising nightlife on Georgetown Road.
Those moments, huddled as a small group far away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life, I believe gave us a better appreciation for the value of our adventure, comradeship, and even our friendships. Daylight and activity waned. Consumer-level fireworks popped and sparkled in the distance. Music from other camps wafted as we noticed the campground nearing capacity. Sights were now beginning to affix on the remaining 20 hours that lay ahead.
Drinking light lagers continuously for extended periods of time prior to age 40 isn’t terribly difficult nor is very complicated. It is almost cleansing in fact. It was easy for us to see why, as men age, they seem to increasingly treasure times like these – they afford us a respite and time for reflection. My race rookies and I even indulged in some poor-tasting cigars, salty snacks, and Indy 500 race conversation. As 1am beckoned and final arrangements made for tent-sleep, we all also settled the final tabs with our bladders and retreated to our modest nylon shelters, satisfied that we sucked the marrow of that Saturday with appropriate vigor.
Regardless of how much we choose to believe the illusion of how evolved or civilized we are, the body and brain has it’s millenia-old systems of well-groomed self-preservation if we dare to listen.
I find mine becomes apparent only when asleep. This system was activated with a rustling of grass and snickers that were much too close to our defensively-placed tents near the vehicle and back of our lot. Ears pricked up and alerted all senses to an ominous shadow on the tent’s far side, but it was already too late. Our playful neighbors had pulled a trump card from their camper and decided that we would be the victims.
At approximately 3:11am local Indiana time, we were quite rudely awakened to a standard-issue crowd bullhorn just 12 inches from our tent and one of the Wisconsin boys singing some currently popular song and also imploring us to come out and play some more. We all remained motionless and through visual communication realized we had been had. Our first strategy was to ignore it and play ‘possum even though no person would ever assume sleep could be maintained though a bullhorn’s call. The strategy worked for a couple of minutes but the bullhorn was then set on the tent sidewall and the taunt continued.
At approximately 3:14am local time, nearby female voices giggling with our neighbor boys implored them to stop as the joke was clearly over and now were only antagonizing us. The one of us closest to that tent wall only later admitted it was only through both great fatigue and restraint that he didn’t violently send the bullhorn back through the jokester’s incisors and canines…
An uneasy calm returned to camp as the voices again trailed away whether back into the night or just into the camper, I don’t know. Knowing the day’s physical expenditure and requirements of the next day, I used every bit of personal soft good to insulate my head from sound, returning to whatever form of rest I could muster…
For each of the estimated 375,000 race visitors who descend upon Speedway, Indiana any given Memorial Day weekend, I would conservatively estimate there MUST be no less than 5 stories to tell. When you extrapolate that, Rainman, you get 1 million, 875 thousand some odd stories… EVERY YEAR.
Granted at least half of those fall into the ‘too disturbing to recall/brain bleach’ category or tied to the ‘sworn to secrecy’ pact, never to reach beyond that inner circle of mind-altered/beer-infused/traumatic-event bonded few who witnessed it. It’s akin to being my generation’s D-Day, storming the flatlands of central Indiana and invading the fortress known as IMS. Some stories that emerge from an event as such must remain sacred, others may be told. God, I love the 500.
A minivan replete with two tents, camp chairs, basic charcoal grilling gear, a (unbeknownst to me) huge Jack Stack Freight House Deluxe package of glorious (overnighted on dry ice) barbequed meats and trimmings, modest personal effects, and two large coolers filled with four cases of beer and ice. Certainly more than enough for 4 chaps for 36 hours or so…
…OR SO we thought.
I waited patiently for the a quieter moment at the first of seven county lines we’d cross during our three-hour drive to reach into my sixer-cooler and crack a beer. I did it with no warning or celebration, more just to signal intent for this day. Although I had broken beer with these guys before, this would be our first road trip without spouses or kids or much of any care at all… >PSSHHhhrrrrrrrTK< …the silence for the following seconds seemed a bit too long for my liking and was actually concerned that I had maybe overshot my targeted enthusiasm. Silence was broken when the question came.
“Did you just crack a beer?” … “Yes.” … “Alright then, gimme one too.”
I suspected right then we had the makings of a winner. Ever-cautiously though, I explained it away by stating that my calculations had us back home in less than 36 hours remaining so every moment needed to be savored. It was agreed. The minivan’s cruise control received a bumping-up of 4 mph. Radars be damned.
Six counties later, upon our arrival to Lot 2, we were eyeballed at the gate, asked to affix the camp sticker to the glass of the minivan, and directed to the lowest, muddiest spot to tent camp in the whole of the place. We humbly asked, as tent-campers, if we can be assigned a replacement spot. DENIED by our yellow-clad lot official. This amateur geologist assured us it would be dry before evening. The entire camp lot was half-empty. Rather than argue, we allowed this over-zealous ATV-jockey to hastily depart and we then found a much more suitable locale on our own beside a very demure and friendly-appearing couple with a towable camper in a small clearing of about five spaces. They were nice enough and quite sympathetic to our original placement story.
Our enthusiasm grew as the sun and temperature rose ever-higher that day. After the essential tents and grill were set, a ring of four camp chairs surrounding a large blue and white cooler full of beer was established in the direct sunlight of this latest of May Saturdays. Much commiserating, laughing, and ever-deepening pond of empty aluminum cans later, our serenity was broken again by the now harried yellow-clad jockey directing a 1-800-RENT-RVS camper to park beside us, again with nothing for tens of yards around.
After The Wizard of Lot sped off again, and seeing the relative proximity of park and our washers and cornhole pitches, the driver came around and offered us the deal of the weekend – in exchange for their moving a half space away from us, we would share the wasted space between us (nearly a full slot) for all of our mirth and merriment. “DEAL!”, I said to Mike from Wisconsin. Rapidly all of our gear became wider as did our neighborly stature. The camper, now parked with a sense of permanence, spat out four fresh-faced college-age lads, the fourth of whom was of larger stature than the others. His mission was clear – with beer bong in hand and already loaded, he ambled down the steps, set his feet to the ground, almost Armstrong-like, and hoisted the classic funnel tube engulfing the golden lager in three seconds. Cheers erupted. Spirits soared.
Duly impressed and eager to foster positive relations, we offered this phalanx of clean, cargo-shorted chaps some welcoming beers and a good-natured tone was struck. Several beers later however the tone turned to concern as the large fellow had surprisingly met his fill already and, nearly in the same spot as his triumphant bong, he stood erect and blew a foamy gusher of liquid beer-puke forward with a volume and force I’d not seen before. Much like a fireworks show, we all ‘OOOHHed’ and ‘AAAHHed’. Once evacuated, he retreated into the camper only to emerge minutes later clean, composed, and with a fresh polo of new pastel color tucked into his khaki shorts. Unwavering, he grabbed a fresh beer, opened the top and drank it like the previous 4 minutes never happened. Cheering and laughs ensued. While never having been formally introduced, I proclaimed him, for our the extent of the weekend, to be known as Derrick Geyser.
More sporting skills were made evident and our very own collegiate basketball player dazzled the Dairyland visitors with repeated washers bullseyes using a basketball shot technique instead of the traditional underhand. Other fun was had and I even was so bold as to call a 2:00 minute penalty on the visitors for misconduct in which the violator spent the time in a not-so-very-large RV storage bin. More laughs and his mates agreed, so he served his time. Fair play is fair play and I credit him with acceptance of that call. As the games wound down our joy turned to shock then as we discovered… the beer’s nearly ALL GONE!!
I have the skills of a master detective. Actually more like approximately 65% of the average skills found with the average TV detective from the 1970s… less the cool car.
What I do have that resembles a 1970s TV detective, besides the penchant for bars with dark wall paneling and 11 mpg sport sedans, is a friend who survives below the radar that provides me with helpful information from time to time. This friend sourced to me two major places to go to find clearinghouse information on musical acts and their schedules: Pollstar and Tourtracker.
Armed with my latest research weapon, I perused and pursued any combination of search tag scrap that would produce a result. I now don’t mind sharing these with everyone since the secret of the Carb Day band for 2010 appears to be on lock-down in a maximum security computer at IMS and (much like my favorite 70s era TV detectives) I lack the true ‘juice’ or contacts to elicit such information. My research therefore has been sufficient only to produce data for deductive reasoning, eliminating the acts who are already committed to the May 28, 2010 dates.
This I share with you so that the first person with any correct information you may have that leads to the confirmed band or bands to play the 2010 Carb Day, prior to the official IMS announcement of such concert, will garner you full and commensurate honors (a free premium beer or alcoholic beverage) at the campsite of yours truly for the 2010 Indy 500 weekend. Here is the official list of those acts currently on tour who shan’t be performing Miller Lite Carb Day 2010:
Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, Black Eyed Peas, Bullet For My Valentine, Tim McGraw, Asleep at the Wheel, Angels and Airwaves, Eli Young Band, 3OH!3, Dave Matthews Band, Pavement, Steel Pulse, Michael Buble, Daughtry, Oak Ridge Boys, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Bret Michaels, Little Big Town, Godsmack, Kiss, Coheed and Cambria, Wilco, Heart, CS&N, Elvis Costello, Montgomery Gentry, BoDeans, Bela Fleck, Mark Knopfler, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Carole King, David Gray, Lifehouse, Joe Bonamassa, NKOTB, Three Dog Night, ZZ Top, Barry Manilow, Diana Ross, Tesla, Deep Purple, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, moe., Steve Miller Band, Chevelle, Umphrey’s McGee, Indigo Girls, OK Go, Living Colour, Buckcherry, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Manhattan Transfer, 1000 Foot Crutch, Barenaked Ladies, Gov’t Mule, Reverend Horton Heat (damn.), Saliva, The Glitch Mob, Cracker, Dark Star Orchestra, Steve Winwood, George Benson, David Sanborn, Gaelic Storm, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Good Charlotte, Proclaimers, Pendulum, Paul Weller, Garaj Majal, Natalie Merchant, Duke Tumatoe (crap.) Cinderella, Sammy Kershaw, Dangermuffin, New Pornographers, The Damned, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Stone Sour, The Yardbirds, Naked Eyes, The Wailers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Eve 6, Rusted Root, America, Buddy Guy, annnnnnnd (perhaps most disappointingly) AC/DC.
Please note there are many others left off the list that I couldn’t recognize as any band of note and judging by their venue, not big draws anyway. So there it is, the unofficial, non-announcement of Carb Day band for 2010. Sorry. What else is there to do for off-week, non-NCAA day of non-sports-news?