My former basketball player, and now big-time racer Zach Veach, will zoom around the track this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He earned a good starting spot on the sixth row and in 17th position as he prepares to make his run at history and kiss the bricks when it’s over.
I’m happy for him, but I just cannot imagine not being there.
The past three years, I have been there to cover him at the Indianapolis 500.
Although not an avid follower of auto sports, I believe the Greatest Spectacle in Racing is the most exciting event I have ever attended, and I have been to a few of them.
I have covered everything from the Super Bowl to the Final Four. But I must admit, the MLB Home Run Derby comes close, but that was more entertainment and fun than anything.
The disappointment hits home because I won’t be there for his fourth attempt to “drink the milk” as many of the media will not be allowed to come.
The race, traditionally run on Memorial Day weekend, was pushed back to Aug. 23 over fear of the coronavirus. News came down this week that the race will be run without fans.
Zach put on his Twitter post recently that “My favorite sight of the year is walking through gasoline alley and seeing the stands for the first time on Indy 500 race day. Saddened it’ll look so different this year, but it is what needs to be done. We’ll put on a great show for everyone watching at home!”
I will miss that too but cannot narrow down what I will miss the most.
Everything about the Indy 500 is spectacular. I appreciate the pageantry, the tradition of honoring the military, and the patriotism. The flyovers send chills down my back, and “Drivers, start your engines,” are the four most exciting words you will hear.
On race day, it is “highly suggested” to be in the media center about 4 a.m. – come to think of it, I won’t miss that part so much. But I must admit, the place is hopping with adrenaline even before the sun comes up and rises over the Pagoda. Track employees are everywhere and hyped up on coffee.
The entire event is a thrill.
I recall walking the straight away with my friend, George, who is the owner of Kingdom Racing, at 6 a.m. He always goes to each car and prays for safety.
Throughout the morning, there are church services at the Speedway in a garage conducted by IndyCar Ministries, and I’ve been to a few of them.
It’s interesting to watch the employees at the track get ready to put on the show. The red carpet is rolled out for “celebrities” at 5:30 a.m. and once the gates open, about 400,000 fans come into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s electric.
A friend and fellow sportswriter went two years ago for the first time at my suggestion, and he told me it was more amazing than he ever thought it would be.
I will miss not talking with Zach in his garage hours before he straps into his No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti AutoSport. I coached him in fourth grade basketball at Minford Elementary School, and he was friends with my youngest son when they were in grade school together.
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Isaiah 8: 20 KJV
I will miss following him on the board in the media center and watching his car zoom by the me at 240 mph.
It’s hard to fathom. No fans. A handful of media.
Although I will miss the 500, I am glad I did not miss God’s calling in my life.
It can be easy to do, especially if you zoom through life as fast as Zach goes around the track. Here are some ways you can miss God’s plan if you are not careful:
- Having a pre-determined outcome in mind and trying to back it up with scripture.
- Making life decisions when you are not in tune with the Holy Spirit.
- Avoiding counsel from people who love you and who have experience.
- Making a decision that conflicts with God’s plan for you. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8: 20 KJV)
- Doing the opposite of what your spouse thinks you should do. God gave him or her to you for a reason. Listen to them.
Look for your spotters and be ready to pass your enemy at the right moment.
Zach loves the 500 and wants nothing more than to take the checkered flag.
Instead of being waited on inside the media center and having the traditional brisket and potatoes for lunch, I’ll be in my recliner chomping on nachos and cheering for our hometown boy as he takes part in the most exciting day in sports.