I was there…

As we all struggle to find our way, our voice, our means of dealing with the uncertainty and eventual fallout from this… thing… I have chosen to find the happy.
I’m all talked out. Ranted out. Angered out. Saddened out.
At least for now.

Last weekend, when we thought the announcement was hours from happening, I started to go through some of my old pictures. Remembering the emotions and the laughter and the friendships and the excitement. These are the memories I choose to take with me as we move forward into the unknown. Not the politics and the fighting and the oneupmanship and the bullshit.
I’m taking the smiles and the goosebumps and the adrenaline and the happy tears.

I’ve been there for many PT & Patreek podiums. My Canadian boys who made it all worth while. And I was there for Paul’s ugly but thrilling win last year in Cleveland. But this… this is the one that stands above all else. Especially now, faced with the gut checking knowledge that I may have unknowingly witness my last race on home turf.

I wrote this following the race that night. It was July 13, 2003, but I remember it as if it was yesterday…

Poking my head through the cut out in the chain link fence, under the media sign, I find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. I have diligently walked the exhibition grounds for 3 days now; talking to fans, staff, drivers, and crew members; taking pictures; finding the story. What is it about race fans? What is it about Toronto race fans? What is it about the Toronto race itself?

But right now my hands are shaking, there is a lump in my throat, and I can hardly focus through the tears welling up in my eyes. I have gone from Michele-Marie-budding motorsports journalist, to Meesh/race fan.
I am at my home race.
I am standing at pit out, my national anthem has been sung, they have just called “gentlemen start your engines”, and 73,000 fans have started cheering.
I am having a moment.
One of those ” unless you are a race fan you just can’t understand” kind of moments.

I spent the day roaming around watching the race from various vantage points. I sat in the bleachers along the aptly named Thunder Alley. Ouch! Earplugs are definitely needed there. Although I’m sure the shooting pain I experienced is still the aftershock of the jet fly by. Not the first pass but the return flight with no warning. Were cameras rolling on the photographers gathered at pit out, it would have been blooper reel material for sure.

I stood along the fence for a while and did the whiplash head action thing as the cars went rocketing by. Soon I became comfortably ensconced in the media centre watching the race and the timing boards on the big screens, taking notes and enjoying the surround sound effect as the cars barreled down the straightaway into turn one around the historic Automotive building we were being housed in. With 4 laps to go, I ran downstairs to my new favorite spot at pit out and was there, at the finish, when my hometown boy took the checkered flag. Again, the race fan in me took over, and I found myself overwhelmed.

To be at the start/finish line when the checkered flag waved…
To hear the deafening roar of the crowd as Paul Tracy exited his car and got tossed into the air by his crew…
And then to stand proudly during the playing of Oh Canada…
Well proud doesn’t even begin to cover it.

How did I manage to get so lucky?
I may not be rich by society’s standards, but today I am a millionaire.
My currency? Memories.
I was there!
Paul Tracy won his home race for the first time in 10 years… and I was there!
Paul Tracy won from pole to checkered flag, something that only 2 others had done at this track… and I was there!
And at a very melancholy but historically important time for Team Players, Paul Tracy pushed himself to the very edge and gave them, and all Canadians who have supported them, the ultimate gift. And I WAS THERE!!

Tomorrow I will put my journalist cap back on, and finish transcribing my notes.
But for the rest of the evening, I will remain Meesh…

race fan…

PT’s win in 03


5 responses to “I was there…

  1. Great post. I’m sorry to hear that you may be losing your ‘home race’. I too have lost my nearest option of Denver, where I’ve caught all but one of the races. Houston will be nixed if the merger happens so there goes option #2. Dallas is still on the table for the TMS race but, ugh, I’ve seen too many IRL crapwagons go round and round there. Keep your fingers crossed that if a merger comes about that Toronto will find it’s way back on to the ’09 schedule.

  2. thanks.
    Ya, I guess I just, well, we all just assumed that Toronto would automatically be included in any merge. But with the decline over the last couple of years, and the sponsorship issues, it’s not really the jewel in the crown in once was. Truthfully I think it would be included if they hadn’t just sold Edmonton to a big promoter. The litigation will be less with an event they own…

    I was heartbroken when Denver was dumped. It was on my someday list. On the bright side, there are a few IRL events that are close by (Watkins, Mid Ohio & Detroit) and not one is a roundy round, which makes it more palatable.

  3. Meesh,
    Keep the faith that Toronto will be back on the schedule once all the marginal IRL races are flushed. Hopefully they’ll be flushed in ’09 with that gawd awful car.

    I think PDX is done though. (the track was just re-surfaced too)

  4. I’m pretty sure that if the race doesn’t happen this year, it is toast. The city will use the absence to nix it for good.

  5. See, you DO understand how we old Indy 500 fans feel.

    And now, if your race survives, you will also know how we felt post-1995.

    You may be better off with your memories.

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