May 2009: Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Centennial Era Balloon Festival

May 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Carl Fisher, James Allison, Arthur Newby, and Frank Wheeler as a testing facility. The history can be found in this article: Centennial: Four Founders’ Vision Created Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The first Indianapolis 500 race was held in 1911, so we have two years of Centennial Celebrations to anticipate; thus, the “Centennial Era.”

Events held from Friday – Sunday, May 1-3, kicked off the start of the Indy 500 Festival celebrations here in Speedway, Indiana. One event I was looking forward to was the Centennial Era Balloon Festival, an event to celebrate the first race held at the IMS, which was actually a balloon race held in June 1909. An interesting account, as told by IMS founding father Carl Fisher, can be found here: Balloons at IMS in 1909: what a race it was

On Friday and Saturday evenings, hot-air balloon pilots would be participating in a “balloon glow,” where they would illuminate their balloons in different patterns: synchronized, sequential, twinkles, etc. I had seen photos on Flickr taken by the IndyFlickr group at a similar event at the Indiana State Fair grounds, and it looked very cool.

Friday, May 1, 2009

On Friday night, the weather was sketchy, but it cleared up and Pat headed over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the Balloon Glow. Unfortunately, I was unable to accompany him. I’m trying to get through recovery from oral surgery for the removal of my two lower wisdom teeth, and it’s been rough! I was in pain all day, and it wasn’t responding to even Vicodin. So, I was tired and opted to stay home, hoping that I’d feel better for Saturday. Pat’s photos from Friday’s Balloon Glow are here

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The next events were held Saturday morning, a “Founding Fathers” balloon race, and the annual 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Pat asked me about making our annual trek down to the intersection of Georgetown, 16th & Crawfordsville Roads to watch the marathon participants arrive. It’s always a spectacular sight to see 35,000 people running by! But unfortunately, again I wasn’t up to it. My lower left side was swollen and hurt badly. I had taken Lodine and Vicodin, neither of which was helping, and I was tired from lack of sleep and food for the past week. A call to the “on-call” dentist was frustrating, as he was participating in the Mini! He asked if I needed a prescription for Vicodin called in and I explained that I had some, but that it wasn’t helping, which is why I was calling! He suggested I had a dry socket, and to take the Vicodin, and come in on Monday. Not wanting to mess up his marathon pace, I told him I’d call Monday and hung up.

So, I again attempted to try Vicodin, and it helped make me groggy, but didn’t touch the pain. Then, for some unknown but happily miraculous reason, later in the afternoon, the pain went away on its own and I was *completely* pain free! It felt as if nothing was done! So, by 7:30, I decided to head over to the track for tonight’s balloon glow. Pat was busy working on Amber’s car, but was finishing up and would join me shortly. So I grabbed my Nikon D50, hopped in the Corolla, and made the long, arduous drive over there. Usually not long or arduous, as I live 1/2 mile away, but there was pretty good traffic heading in there. I was directed to park behind the Hall of Fame Museum and made my way over to the field where the balloons were lined up. There was a wicked HUGE Energizer Bunny there, 166 feet tall!

Centennial Era Balloon Festival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

They did the various glows and I had fun taking photos. Here’s one of a synchronized glow:

Centennial Era Balloon Festival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Pat had quite a time getting in with the traffic, as there were alot more people there Saturday than the previous night. I ran into my manager from work and fellow photography enthusiast, Duane, who was there with his family. I told Duane about the balloon glow, knowing he’d love the photographic opportunities! Shortly thereafter, Pat arrived, the glow ended, but the fireworks began!  The remainder of my photos from the Balloon Glow are on my Flickr site: Centennial Era Balloon Festival at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The remainder of my pain free evening had continued until I went to sleep around midnight, and I managed to get 6 hours’ sleep, the most consecutive sleep I’d had since the surgery. Unfortunately, I woke up in worse pain than ever! I took a Lodine, which took the edge off for a few hours. That gave Pat and me enough chance to head to the track for the “100 Years Race.” The traffic was much easier to handle this morning!

100 Years Race - Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

It’s not every day a 166-foot pink bunny flies past the Bombardier Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

100 Years Race - Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

After all the balloons left, I needed to head to the southwest side of town to take a photo for work. By coincidence, the wind carried the balloons in that very direction, and we spotted this one along I-465:

100 Years Race - Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

The Energizer Bunny was there too, losing some of his energy as he deflated.

100 Years Race - Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

The remainder of my photos from the 100 Years Race can be found on my Flickr site: May 3, 2009: 100 Years Race – Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana

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