The Only Month That Matters
May 2, 2007 | 1:15 A.M. EST
"What’s the big deal – why are you so happy that May has arrived?"
The answer is simple; even though it features just one race, "The Month of May" is the only month that matters in open-wheel racing.
Ever since the split between the IndyCar Series and Champ Car (then known as CART) in 1996, open-wheel racing in the United States has dropped from its perch atop the motorsports landscape, falling to a distant second (or further down the pecking order if we really want to get technical). However, when the month of May rolls around, fans young and old turn their attention to the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the buildup to the running of the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.
Why you ask? Part of it is because the hype machine gets put into overdrive by ABC/ESPN (who own the television rights to the event), but mostly it is because it reminds people of simpler times, back when all of the top racing talent was competing in one series for one championship. And every May, those drivers would travel to the town of Speedway, Indiana, for the running of the most prestigious event of the year.
While the legacy of the race, and therefore the entire "Month of May," has diminished because of the aforementioned split, it remains the best time of year to be a fan of open-wheel racing.
Top drivers from all over the world have and will continue to make the journey to Indianapolis as they dream of joining the famed faces engraved on the Borg-Warner Trophy, a list that includes Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi and Juan Pablo Montoya to name a few. For one month every year, the country shifts its focus from Baseball, Basketball, and yes, even NASCAR, to listen to the stories of those people who make the trip and will risk everything for a chance to celebrate with the trophy and a nice glass of milk.
Yes, American open-wheel racing is not what it used to be, but for this one month every year, everything seems to be back to normal as the country, and even the world, turns its attention to Indianapolis once again.
Will you be doing the same?