Memorial Day Weekend
Years ago I worked closely with Michael Levin, who owned a video studio. One of Michael’s clients was the head of the New York Times photo archives. He was also a childhood friend of Paul Page, who was for many years ABC’s on-air announcer of Indianapolis 500.
Because he did videos, Michael had the idea of producing a video on the history of the Indianapolis 500. Paul said he would try to get materials from the ABC archives for Michael to use, with permissions and credits. Michael’s NY Times client said she would try to get photos. Michael called me and said the one thing that would raise the project to another level was a song, and asked if I’d be interested in writing it. I said sure.
I immersed myself in the race. It is a huge event in Indiana, particularly (clearly) in Indianapolis, where it is a month-long event with parades, charity appearances by drivers, and TV profiles of previous races and drivers.
The Indianapolis 500 draws the largest live crowd of any sporting event in the world, around half a million people watching from bleachers that encircle the 2 ½ mile track and from inside the track’s oval.
I wrote “Indy 5,” which we recorded and which is on “Moments of Grace.”
The race is the pinnacle of nearly a year’s worth of qualifying events around the country. It is a testament to the stamina and courage of the men and women behind the wheel racing at over 200 mph for over two hours, with, at that speed, no margin of error. Each driver is backed by a team in which every member has a specific job, and which together works like a well-oiled machine, with speed and precision.
The first race was held in 1911. The winning driver was Ray Harroun, who came in at an average speed of slightly under 75 mph and an average speed of 6¾ hours. Ryan Hunter-Reah won in 2014 with an average speed of 186.6 mph and an average time of close to 2¾ hours.
Hear "Indy 5" on the audio player.