In the previous post I mentioned the racetrack we have here close to Denver, and how races are held there. In this post I want to mention the main differences I found between the High Planes Raceway and the Indy 500.
Obviously there are many, and in many instances they simply cannot be compared. But one of the things that caught my attention is the difference in the “attitude” these two races have.
For instance, while at the High Planes the concept is for racers to go there and get the best result they can, independently of spectators; and even more, they simply don’t care about spectators and it seems they would prefer there would be none, at Indy 500 the assisting public constitute the main element of the day. At the High Planes is about the races, with just one or two people watching; at Indy 500 is about the people, with a race somewhere in the day’s program.
While at the High Planes you can freely walk around the race cars and take pictures, and even talk to the drivers and mechanics, at the Indy 500 you can walk freely around concession stands and buy different kinds of foods and memorabilia. The race is just an excuse to promote products that fight each other to be the “official” product of the race, and even celebrities move around to be seen and promote themselves to the assisting people. In other words, the race becomes a products and artists promoting event.
Unless you have a lot of money to spend in one day, at the Indy 500 you may assist to the event but still have to watch the drivers on the big screens. Sure, you can watch the cars live while they are racing, but at a long, long distance from where your seat is. The only way to see the drivers up close; have the chance to talk with them (very briefly); ask for an autograph; see the race cars; and watch the race from a relatively close distance, is to spend thousands of dollars!
And that’s my point. The Indy 500 is a people’s event, not a race. Those who go there in the majority are not race fans; they are party goers. Obviously there are always a few number of spectators who are effectively race fans, but they are just a very small minority. The point of the Indy 500 is the whole day’s party…not the race! And you can see that reflected in the huge number of stands selling all kinds of foods and beverages in big amounts, just like those selling T shirts; hats; stickers; rings, you name it, and also in huge quantities.
No wonder why there is so much trash left behind! It is a reflection of all the “consumption” that happens and is expected in that event. The idea is to create a spectacle that would last most of the day, so to have more time to sell more; and the “excuse” for this event is a race.
I know some people might think, “but the Indy 500 is a traditional race!”. Yes it is, but to hold this traditional race there is no need to create a whole spectacle for most of the day, and definitely there is no need to sell so much food and stuff. The Indy 500 may be a traditional race, but it’s commercialization simply reached a point where the race is just and add-on to the event, and the most important part definitely has become the selling of food and stuff and the promoting of products and celebrities.
Let’s face it, if one day the organization notify to the spectators in the grand stands that the Indy 500 race will be postponed to the next day and people can come back the next day and get in free by using the same ticket they have now, and that anyway they will have a, let’s say, a lower category car race the original day; do you think people would restrain from consuming food and buying memorabilia for the Indy 500? All because they will come back the next day for the race? Or might they feel lucky that they can have two days of fun rather than one, all for the same ticket price? And if they stay and watch the lower category race and consume food and drinks; will they come back the next day just to watch the race, but restrain themselves from buying food and drinks because they already consumed the day before?
That would be a super business for the organization! I believe the only reason they don’t do it is because the facilities would be a mess for the second day, so they prefer instead to just pack all they can in one day, to make people consume the most possible in that long day, and reserve the two days show for when rain prevents from racing on Sunday.
And then the trash. Gee! I’ve never seen so much trash together! It seems nobody taught these people to collect their trash in a bag and throw it away in their way out. It could be so easy if the organization placed those big rolloff containers in every exit, so people just toss their bags with trash there. But I guess even if those big rolloff containers were there, people still would leave their trash on the floor where they were standing. It’s a culture thing, and the images after the event shows the level of culture of the assisting people. I’m sorry to say that, but what else can I say with those images?
Then at the other hand you have the High Planes races, where there is no business in selling food (except for the “burritos” truck) and no memorabilia, but instead it is all about watching races and learning about the race cars. It is an event for true race fans. There are some trash containers around and there is no trash left on the floor. The few spectators that go there go to watch the races, not to “consume”, so there is no trash left behind.
There are enough races for the afternoon, while in the morning is the classifications, so still it’s a whole day event. Going at 9am in the morning and walking around the cars being prepared; talking to the mechanics and pilots and watching classifications; to then have lunch at the “burritos” truck, and spending the afternoon watching the actual races you can have fun until around 6pm. It is also a whole day event, but only about races, not about artists; products; and/or any kind of commercialization and indoctrination.
Another element that shows how the Indy 500 has been turned into a “Show” rather than a “Race” is the ceremonies with the winner at the end of the race. At the High Planes there are trophies and a podium, but you can see in the pictures below how simple and straight to the point it is. No fancy stuff and no show involved; just the giving of the trophies; a quick interview from a local radio or TV station and the applause of the other racers; mechanics, and the very few spectators that can also stand watching from a 10 feet distance for no extra fees.
At the other hand, at the Indy 500, the winner was interviewed for about 30 minutes by different TV stations; given a ride in a convertible all around the track while the announcer was asking for applause to the people in the different curves of the track, resembling a TV show about contestants; prizes and music, rather than a sports events. And then spent another 30 minutes with the driver kissing the bricks a hundred times, so they could be photographed and recorded on video from different angles. Funny, if you had put Dishdashas to the drivers, it would have looked like Muslims praying; something many people in this country fear! And they were doing the bending and kissing so many times, it lost all the meaning!
No wonder why I personally felt so comfortable at the High Planes, worried about what cars and categories were racing and watching them how they negotiated the track, rather than trying to dodge people carrying huge coolers and bags full of stuff. The High Planes races are about racing; so for pilots, mechanics, teams and race fans it is a straight to the point event. There is no show, products, selling and/or promoting…and no trash! Just racing.
I am a racing fan, and the Indy 500 didn’t seem like a race but rather an excuse to sell, giving me just a small taste of racing somewhere in between the whole day program. I do appreciate the race at the Indy 500. I believe it is a very tough race and a “classic” race by it’s own merits, but I disagree with the commercialization the organization have done to the extreme point it has been taken; and the use of such distinguished race to make indoctrination of people while taking their money with tons of products and food. The honorable Indy 500 has been turned into a “Superstar” that sells; and the majority of people going there are mostly party goers that consume and leave their trash behind after partying all day. Oh!..and there is a race too!