Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Looking for Indy Style Sushi, Racing, and International Drama

So, this year, we're once again headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for yet another try at the US Grand Prix at Indy. We're F1 fans. There's a certain je ne se quois (did I spell that right?) about F1 that you just don't get with stock car racing. The drivers are more, uh, worldly. Its the international charm, right here in Middle Amerika!

I mean, here's an exchange I had at the second USGP-Indy, while sitting on one of the observation mounds, that should be filed in some McSweeney's List titled "Conversations You're Not Likely To Overhear In The Bleachers At A NASCAR Race":

Me: Yeah, out here in middle America, the summers get really hot and you need a lot of sunscreen.
Brian: You didn't spend a summer in Indy, did you?
Me: No, but I spent about five summers in Champaign, which is almost the exact same latitude as we are here.
Race Fan Sitting In Front of Us With Distinguished British Accent: Champaign? U of I? Love that place!
Me: You went to school there?
RFSIFUWDBA whose name turned out to be Julian: Well, grad school. I did my undergrad work at Oxford, but I worked on my dissertation and got my PhD at Champaign.
Me: Myself, I majored in English and Journalism, but only undergrad. But for the weather, Ah, then you know what to expect!
Julian: Yea, but I didn't expect this -- nowhere near the huge F1 crowds like in Europe, I've got a beautiful view up here on this mound, and if only Couthard could take the lead, my joy would be complete!


Also, here's some scenes not likely to take place in, say, Bristol, Tennessee:

  • Going out for sushi the Saturday night in Indianapolis (and yes, Indy has an excellent sushi place) in 2004 and ending up waiting in a packed line and this rather short, elderly gentleman brushing past us on the way out, and its, its, Yes, its Bernie Ecclestone, the head of F1 himself! This must be some kind of good sushi, if its good enough for Bernie "Women are washing machines not drivers" Ecclestone its good enough for us!

    But wait, there's more!

  • So, Brian and I finally get seated on the patio, and suddenly there's a huge to-do at the door, and then coming down the sidewalk surrounded by an entourage is German driver Michael Schumacher, the highest-paid athlete in the world! Brian stands up, greets him him German, and Schumacher replies "Good evening to you" in English. I didn't take a picture. It would have ruined the moment.

    But wait, there's more!

  • So, last year, we decide to head back to the Mikado, that great sushi joint. There's a huge line again, and we're figuring it's based on the reputation. No, this year it's because Juan Montoya has chosen to take his crew to dinner there. There's this jerk in front of us in line who's giving the hostess a hard time because, well, he's Columbian, and isn't that enough to get him an audience con Juan Pablo? Yeah, right, I'm part Polish and that didn’t get me any special dispensation with John Paul II. Jesus. Anyway, I say to the hostess with a sympathetic look on my face, "Anywhere, anytime you get a chance" and of course our courtesy and understanding were rewarded with being seated within 30 minutes, more than a reasonable wait on a packed night like this. "But then again," I said to her as she led us to our table, "You can't name your restaurant after a tragic Gilbert and Sullivan opera and not expect some drama now and again." And drama we saw later: Brian spotted the head of racing at Mercedes-Benz on the patio as we left, polishing off a big bottle of some strong stuff. Odd, we thought, getting wasted the night before a race. That flashed back to us the next day, when the race became the debacle it was.

We'll be at the Mikado this Saturday night, too. I'll file a report when we get home. Who do you suppose we'll run into this time?

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