Just some thoughts:
This morning as I sat alone over a cup of coffee at my coffee place I read a small by-line that read:
“Fifty-five years ago today Mario Andretti competed in his first Indy car race.”
That was April 19th, 1964, my senior year in college.
Over the years I have often associated Andretti with my wife and I. The second date I had with my wife was on an August afternoon in Terre Haute, Indiana, 1962. I took her to the spirit car races at the fame half-mile dirt track knows as the Action Track.
The night before (our first date) we had gone to the show at the Indiana theater saw the movie “The Music Man.” Meredith Wilson’s famous play-movie, and then the spirit car races. I have no idea how many races I have been to in my lifetime. Many and many at the half-mile dirt track there in my home area.
Somewhere stuffed in an old envelope, shoe box etc is a picture of Barbara and Mario taken on that hot August afternoon. Back then at the end of the races the pits would be open to the public. Most always following the races I would walk into the pits and meet, talk with the various drivers. You could do that. There would be Foyt, Jones, Hurtubise, Bobby/ Al Unser and Jud Larson. Drivers often would be sitting near their cars having a cool drink. In fact if you got to the races early, as I often did, you might even help some of the drivers unload their spirit car off their trailers. I certainly did such on more than one occasion
On this date as Barb and I walked the pits I spotted Andretti. This was his first time to run at Terre Haute. He had established a reputation for himself running the eastern tracks and now he was coming into the big time of USAC. He was standing at the back of an old beat up pick-up truck that had a trailer hitched to it. Standing next to him was his brother Alto.
I said to Barb, “Come over here I’m gonna get a picture of this guy. If he doesn’t get himself hurt or killed in this crazy spirit car racin’ he could ended up being one of the best ever.”
So I merely walked up to him and asked if I could take his picture along with my date. No problem. So very quickly the two of them stood at the back of this old truck and I snapped their picture. Just a few feet away sat his old sprint car, robin egg blue number 83 the Gapco special. He and his brother Aldo were about to push it back on the trailer and head out for another race at who knows where.
Hey I sure had a lot of class back in those days didn’t I. One night at the theater seeing a movie from a Broadway play and the next afternoon at the sprint car races. Oh yeah, I had a lot of class.
You know sometimes in life pictures are taken and little thought is given to what later might be the significance of them some day. That’s the way with a lot of things about life, we don’t always know the significance of what is happening at the time. Only years later do we come to recognize the importance.
As the line from a country music Jack Clements song once said:
“Whose in that picture with you? Oh, just someone I used to know.”
April 19, 2019
Posted May 23, 2019