The downtown of Indianapolis, Indiana, mirrors the center of Cleveland, Ohio. The cities are both anchored by a monument dedicated to soldiers and sailors and there are pockets of a thriving night-life. Indianapolis is only a stopping point, but after checking into the Conrad Hilton a block away from the roundabout encircling the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, I’m wishing I had more time here.
The few people I interact with (the night manager and clerk at the hotel, a couple of people in the elevator and the people working and visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and the cleanliness of the city present themselves as kind and welcoming respectively. I feel I’ve only gotten a glimmer of the potential of this city despite the overcast sky, wind and cold rain.
Still, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a monster sitting on the outskirts of the city, and the mere size of the entire track and complex is intimidating and ridiculous. Cape Cod houses and small bungalows line half of the track. I can’t imagine the droning that must scream from the track when cars race — a dull hum like a muffled air raid siren meant for every planet in the universe to hear.
The Hall of Fame contained within the chain-link fence meant to keep invaders from Pepperland out is visited by people around the world. A group of Italian men buy their tickets and slap each other on the back out of excitement as they head toward the trophy cases. I understand the love of cars, but the love of racing escapes me. The loop after loop after loop of street-illegal cars making enough noise to open the heavens seems like a waste of a potential productive weekend, but, hey, I enjoy the Weather Channel. To each their own, I guess. While I can’t appreciate NASCAR, I can appreciate the fact that the love of cars is something bringing people together, that makes men and women share beers, that encourages neighbors to talk, that gives a fifteen year-old his/her first true sense of freedom, and that can’t be all bad.
I hope to return to Indianapolis one day, but until then, Route 66 calls.