26th May2016

4 Traditions of The Greatest Spectacle In Racing

by Michael Chandler

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On Sunday we will have something unprecedented in motorsport: the one hundredth running of a single race.  At 10:19 AM, the green flag will drop for the one hundredth running of the Indianapolis 500.  NASCAR doesn’t have a race approaching it’s hundredth running, nor does Formula 1, Rallying, or anything else.  This is truly the greatest spectacle in racing.  In the 105 years since the first race, some traditions have come.  Interesting traditions.  Here are four traditions, and how they came to be.

“Back Home Again In Indiana”

Before the race, and fairly consistently since 1972, Jim Nabors has sang “Back Home Again In Indiana”.  Forty-four years is a long time for Gomer to be belting out that song, and he’s only missed out on a few 500’s.  But he definitely wasn’t the first to sing it to the crowd.

There are a few reports that indicate that the song was played in 1919 by a brass band as Howdy Wilcox won the race.  Back then it was simply titled “Indiana”, and was maybe the first time the song was played at the speedway.

The first time it was played before a race was in 1946, by James Melton and the Purdue University band.  Melton was a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company, and also a car collector.  He provided several cars for the race-morning lap of classic cars.  He and the band performed 45 minutes before the race, and it went over well.  Really well.  So well in fact that he was invited back the following two years.

Eventually the performance was moved up to it’s current slot, and it hasn’t moved.

Balloons Before the Start

If you watch the race, you’ll notice thatballoons are released  as “Back Home Again In Indiana” ends.  Festive!  The balloons will rise for the sixty-ninth time this year, and all because someone listened to their mother.

There weren’t any races held from 1942 until 1945, due to the second World War.  This lack of racing, and general attention, meant that the track fell into disrepair.  In November of 1945, a business man from Terre Haute, IN bought the track for the princely sum of $750,000.  That man was Tony Hulman, and his family still owns the track to this day.  He bought it at the urging of Wilbur Shaw, winner of three of the previous five 500 mile races.  After the track was Hulman’s, he named Wilbur as president and GM of the track.

Before the 1947 race, Tony’s mother Grace suggested that they release some balloons before the drop of the green flag.  And the tradition stuck.  In 1950 they moved the balloon release to the end of “Back Home Again In Indiana”, and it’s been that way ever since.

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The Trophy and The Milk

1936 saw the beginning of two of the longest standing traditions: it saw the debut of the Borg-Warner Trophy, and it was the first time someone drank milk in Victory Lane.  The fellow who drank the milk and won the trophy was Louis Meyer.

See, Louis Meyer (winner of three Indianapolis 500’s) had this odd habit.  On hot days he’d drink buttermilk to refresh himself.  And since Memorial Day tends to be hot, Louis cracked open a bottle as he pulled into Victory Lane.  A news photographer snapped a photo of him drinking the milk.  An executive at the Milk Foundation saw this, and was elated!  MILK HAS HIT THE BIG TIME!  He vowed that there would be milk for the winner of the race from then on.  And so it was… until the war started.  And then from 1947 until 1955, milk wasn’t an option.  It cam back in 1936, and has stayed.  Now on to the trophy Louis received.

The Borg-Warner Trophy was made by Spaulding-Gorham of Chicago, and was unveiled at a dinner in New York in February of 1936.  The Sterling Silver trophy features a bas-relief sculpture of every winner of the race.  This continued until 1986, when they ran out of space on the trophy.  Fitting this happened on the 50th anniversary of the trophy.  The powers that be added a base to the trophy, which provided enough space through 2004.  And when that was filled, they replaced it with an even larger base!  A base that’ll have enough space for every winner until 2034.

All of the faces on the trophy are of race winners, and they’re all done in silver.  All of the faces, except one.  In 1987 the face of Tony Hulman was added in gold.

And there you have it, four traditions surrounding the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.  I’ll be watching the race on Sunday, like I do every Memorial Day Weekend.  Watching the race is my tradition, and has been for decades.  Hopefully you’ll be watching this historic running, and hopefully this becomes one of your traditions as well.

 *Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
16th Apr2015

Import Spring Showoff: The History

by Michael Chandler

ISS 2014 Michael Chandler CAMautoMag (53 of 125)

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

This coming Sunday is the Import Spring Showoff, one of the largest shows/meets in the state.  This year it is going to be held at the Maverick Center, which is a physically larger venue than the Davis County Fairgrounds that have held it the past couple of years.  Every year this event keeps growing, and it’s amazing to think that this all started as a simple barbecue at Barnes Park.

Utah Acuras Spring 07 meet

Back in the days of MySpace and forums, the Teknik crew of northern Utah would gather at Barnes Park in Kaysville and celebrate spring.  It wasn’t a massive, sponsor laden affair.  It was the crew and some friends just hanging out.  Soon after these little meets is when I popped into the picture.  The little Teknik barbecue had become the Eliterides meet, and subsequently grew in size.  They still weren’t massive, but they were bigger. This was the way it was for a few years, but by 2007 some of the Teknik members founded Utah Acuras and turned the little barbecue into a decent sized meet.  The little parking lot on the west side of the park was too small for the needs of the meet, but the southwest parking lot was perfectly sized.  This was the home of the meet for many years, but when Utah Acuras evolved into Utah Hondas things began to change.

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2008 through 2010 saw a lot of growth, and plenty of non Hondas in attendance.  By 2010 the meet had outgrown the southwest lot, and attendees were lining 200 North.  The Spring Meet was going to be changing again, but it wasn’t going to be moving too far.

UH Spring Meet 2012-1

In 2011 the meet filled the northwest lot, and spilled into the surrounding parking lots.  There were sponsor booths, and raffles!  It was looking like the massive event that we know it as today.  The next year the meet grew even more, and the organizers ran into some problems.  Some BIG problems.  First, the parking lot was full 45 minutes before the event was scheduled to begin.  Secondly, and more importantly, Kaysville City PD shut the meet down early because the staff failed to get the proper permits and make the proper reservations.  According to Jeff Woodyatt “It was then that we realized (along with more non-Honda’s in attendance than Honda’s) that it was time to turn the spring meet into a legit event for all makes and models.”  2013 was the first official year of the Import Spring Showoff, and it was held at the Davis County Fairgrounds.  Permits and reservations were acquired, and the rest is history.

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As the meet evolved things were added and removed.  The most notable addition were the awards given by the attendees and staff.  Some have faded from our memories, but there’s one that some will never forget.  Yes, I’m talking about The Ghetto Award.  First given out to a Civic hatchback that was very slow and rather haggard, it was given to a Civic coupe with a bird drawn on its hood in primer the next year.  In 2007 Dave, yes our Dave, got a hold of a small steel wheel and got creative with a can of spray paint and a sharpie.

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The idea behind the award was to recognize the most haggard, beat up, and generally terrible car that came to the meet.  It was meant to motivate the recipient to make their car less offensive to everyone, and it usually happened.  That hatchback wound up making 500 horsepower, and the coupe got painted.  However, the winner of the 2007 award never actually received it.  In 2007, at the joint Utah Acuras and HondaTech meet, it rained.  It always rained at HondaTech meets, and this year was no different.  A lone, multicolored Eclipse rolled through the meet.  Everyone was in their cars, avoiding the rain and watching the harlequin DSM slowly roll through.  One man, a hero, could not let this car leave without a physical representation of the recognition he earned.  Dave lept out of his car, hoisted the award above his head and began chasing the Eclipse.  Not knowing what Dave wanted, and not eager to find out, the Eclipse quickly left the parking lot while Dave gave chase.  Tragically, that was the last time the award was given.  It’s probably for the best, as I doubt that anyone would A) be able to take it as the joke it is and B) fix up their hoopty.

Now that we know where we’ve been, and how a humble meet became the juggernaut that it is today, we need to take a look at how this meet happens every year.  In part two of this story, we’ll take a look behind the scenes so you can see everything that goes into making Import Spring Showoff happen every year.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.

 

15th Nov2010

Top Gear USA: What to expect

by Michael Chandler

We are less than one week away from the premier of Top Gear on History Channel, and those of you who didn’t go to the screening like Trent and I did might be wondering what to expect? Well, since I can see the description of the premier episode on the guide of my cable box let me tell you. Here’s my take on Top Gear USA.

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20th Oct2010

Top Gear USA on November 21st

by Trent

So it may not be as good as the original as hard as they try, but who’s excited for Top Gear USA? Me! And Mike! Click ‘Continue Reading’ to see a trailer for the new show debuting November 21st on History Channel. (more…)