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Surreality at the trackPosted Sunday, May 25, 2008, at 12:08 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, start the weirdness!
I'm here at my second Indianapolis 500 as a sports writer (third overall), and I'm still not over the ridiculous combinations of people I find here.
Caine's out in turn three taking pics and he called me talking about the crazies in the snake pit. They're out there, drunk out of their minds, already burnt to a crisp well before the race. I'm sure some of them are passed out already.
At the other end of the spectrum, I've seen the men in suits and women in ridiculously overpriced dresses. They will be populating the luxury boxes. To them, this is more of a social event than anything else.
And somewhere in the middle are the average race fans -- you know, those people who will actually pay attention and care about the action on the track.
But I fall into a different category all together. And I have perhaps the weirdest duty of all. Those of us populating the media center are here to write about the race.
And we do so while watching the race on TV.
I'm a big fan of irony, so that's the main fact I keep coming back to.
I guess there's no other way to do it. I mean, this isn't like football, where there is a good seat to sit and watch all the action first hand. We sit here and let the camera men do the seeing for us.
Besides, there certainly are perks to where I am right now.
I feel kind of lazy when I cover the race because I don't really have to take many of my own notes. Instead, they periodically bring around another page of the "Daily Trackside Report" for me. It tells me of the major events, in the race in terms of lead changes, wrecks, etc.
That's right, I don't even have to keep my own notes.
Additionally, when it comes time for press conferences after the race, they broadcast the conference throughout the building. So I don't even have to walk downstairs.
I have access (if I want to fight all the other writers) to the press conferences. I could even step to the mic and ask a question of one of the drivers. (And I would if I felt like I had a clue.)
On the other hand, I'm still a relative newbie. Give me a couple more years and maybe I'll feel like I have a bit more clout.
But my favorite fact is still the TV thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you ever feel there is a big disconnect between the sports media and the average fan, you're half right.
If you're one of the fans at the race, then you're right. Our viewing experience is totally different than yours. (And we don't have to use trough urinals, which is a definite plus.)
But if you're one of the millions watching at home, then there shouldn't be a disconnect. We're watching it the same way as you, only with a lap top in front of us.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.