Yes, I know it's called the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, but just like the masses in Chicago that still call U.S. Cellular "Comiskey," it's still "The Brickyard" to me.
Since today is the Brickyard and this is an Indianapolis-based blog, I thought I'd share some local perspective on the event.
First and foremost, if you want to see a race at Indy, the Brickyard is the wrong one to attend. This race places a far second to the Indianapolis 500 in about every category possible. That's not to say that the Brickyard isn't a great race to attend, but if you want real Indy racing, go to the race where the cars are named after the event.
This race is a jewel of the NASCAR circuit. Most of the racers I've heard from have said that the Brickyard is just as significant as Daytona, but in a completely different manner. Where Daytona is important because of NASCAR history, Indy is important because of its rich racing history. Although, at 100-years-old, I'd hope the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would have a lot of history.
A lot of real racing fans in Indy are huge Tony Stewart fans. Meanwhile, in other areas of the country, people can't stand him.
So why does this occur? Most people say it's because Tony is from Rushville, Indiana and we want to cheer for a Hoosier. In my opinion, the real reason goes deeper than that.
For racing die-hards like my late Uncle Steve, a good Friday and/or Saturday night was at the local dirt track watching the "good old boys going round in circles" as he would often put it. Some of my fondest memories with him are at the track, and my feeble attempts to remember the loads of information he was telling me over the course of the night.
Every evening would invariably have this event, a pit fight. The fight usually sprung from some rough driving or something of that nature that carried over into the pits. The fights always involved heated words from very impassioned individuals who had put a large part of their free time into getting their cars ready for the race.
They felt threatened as they put their heart and soul into this car. It's natural they would be willing to fight over something they put their blood, sweat and time in.
That's the reason why most of us love Tony; he's a "good old boy." I've watched him from the dirt tracks to the IRL to NASCAR.
He still has that fire. His passion comes through and while passion is important everywhere in this country, it means more in the Midwest. When we see him act up, we laugh it off because he's just "an old race driver" and he'd have to be a little bit crazy to do what he does for a living.
So here's to Tony and all of the crazy "good old boys" today. May you race well, enjoy the moment and realize that anything more than two wide in our turns will not end well.
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