Monday, May 30, 2011

Who Says You Can't Take a Baby to the Indy 500?

Sunday was the 100th Indianapolis 500, which we thought would be a perfect opportunity to introduce LO to the joys of silly headgear.

Despite living in Indiana, bastion of car race fanatics, we were the only people in the crowd of 400,000 who brought a baby to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unlike when we take LO to a bar, however, people were delighted to see the world's youngest Indy Car fan. When a fellow 500-goer popped open a beer in the scrum of bodies heading into the gates, spraying several people with Natural Light, he made sure to tell me he didn't get any on the baby. I told him I wasn't worried about it--nominally because the child seems to like beer whenever he grabs his father's glass out of his hands, but mostly because Natty Light is really no different from the sudsy bathwater LO bathes in each evening, except that the bathwater tastes better.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that LO really took in the spectacle that is a 230 mile-per-hour race. On the plus side, we now know that running the vacuum cleaner next to the child, pounding nails in the wall above his head, using a jackhammer on the front stoop and allowing the high school marching band to practice in the living room all while LO is napping has borne fruit. If the child can take a nap while Indy cars are zooming past his head, he'll be able to sleep anywhere. It may mean that the poor ladies at the YMCA daycare find it impossible to calm LO in the relative quiet that is the baby room when fewer than 7 babies are all screaming at once, but I feel the ability to nap at the 500 is the greater good, despite the fact that he goes to daycare 2-3 times a week and the 500 once a year. Because seriously, if you can't sleep in intense noise, then how will you ever become a decent somnambulist?

We did want to make sure that LO got the entire Motor Speedway experience. We already know that he loves milk--well, his favorite premium brand of it, anyway--so he's ready for the possibility of winning the checkered flag. We also thought he might enjoy the favorite fan food at the Speedway, the giant turkey leg. When I say giant, I'm not being hyperbolic. These turkey legs make Beyonce and Julia Roberts feel short and stubby. If LO and the turkey who valiantly gave his leg for our degustatory enjoyment ever got into a fight, the legless turkey would still be able to mop the floor with him, even while leaning on an enormous crutch. Despite this possible danger, LO threw himself into the spirit of the place and ate the hell out of that turkey leg:
J and I did need to help him to finish it. LO's not quite ready to eat his entire body weight in poultry.

There were several occasions when it was clear that LO had had enough and needed to go someplace slightly calmer than the stands beside 118 degree asphalt where open-wheel race cars are careening by. (He can be such a baby sometimes. I don't know why this would be anything less than calming). Twice, I took the young man out to a shady spot just off the concourse, where two young men of the college aged variety had passed out in drunken nap. They were so still and sleeping so soundly that I found myself thinking about poking them to make sure they were still breathing. LO was impressed at their ability to nap for so long. He generally can't go for more than 45 minutes at a stretch if he's not at home. He gave them a thumb's up for slumbering for 3+ hours in public.

It was remarkably warm yesterday, so LO and I visited the misting fans just outside our seats several times. One of the other race-fans enjoying the cooling mist was a slender 40-something woman wearing a tee-shirt that proclaimed "She's a Whore." As far as I could tell, there was no arrow or indication that the tee-shirt wearer was describing someone else as a whore. I thought perhaps it was a particularly honest advertisement, and if I could get closer to the tee I might see a list of services enumerated on the back. In any case, J and I decided that if we were to raise LO so that he never brings home a girl wearing a "She's a Whore" tee-shirt, we'll consider ourselves successful as parents. (I think I'd also like to know that he never missed out on three hours of a sporting event while a young mother contemplated poking him to check his vitals. That, I think, will get us into the highest echelon of good parenting.)

Sadly, despite slathering all three members of the B family with SPF 50 sunscreen and putting hats on everyone, we each felt the angry, toothy kiss of the sun. LO refused to keep his hat on his head, and though we thought we'd been diligent in covering every part of his visible skin in sunscreen, it turns out that we were too nervous about getting the lotion in his eyes and he now has the strangest burn surrounding his left eye. The child looks like he's been given a shiner by the guy on the Raisin Bran box.

I always thought this guy looked like a mean bastard.

Considering the fact that I get burned when we switch to 100-watt bulbs, I should not have been surprised that the child lost a fight with Mr. Raisin Bran. Next year, we'll cover him head to toe in SPF 20,000 and be sure to reapply every 1.3 minutes. Because there's no way LO would object to that.

Even with sunburn, whores and occasional fussiness, we had a great time, and we'll be sure to return to the 500 next year. LO has been requesting turkey ever since he found out that food comes in portions as large as he is. I distinctly heard him say "Vrooooooom" in his sleep. And he has been enjoying milk with much more gusto since he's discovered that it connotes victory.

And next year, perhaps LO and I will actually see some of the race.


  1. Does a babe-in-arms require their own ticket to accompany their parents in the reserved seating stands?

  2. Nope. Just the adult bringing the baby needs the ticket.

  3. What type of headphones did you use for him? We are possibly taking our 8 month old with us to Carb Day and I want to get something that'll work well for that kind of noise.

  4. Hey emily! Could I oick your brain about what you packed for the Indy 500? We are about to take our 9 month old to it next weekend and I'm worried I'm planning to pack tooo much stuff.