Another Reason to Travel to IMS

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It doesn’t take a lot to give me a reason to go visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the first time in over twenty years, I did not set foot in the city of Indianapolis during calendar year 2020.

The last time we were in town was in December of 2019, when we traveled there to watch the Titans defeat the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Even though we stayed downtown, we still went to The Speedway to visit the gift shop and just sort of take it all in. When we left the grounds and headed to Dawson’s, we assumed that we would be returning in about five months to take in our usual three-weekends of the Month of May. We had no idea what was around the corner in 2020. We all missed the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in forever, and attending IndyCar races was out of reach for most of us in 2020.

Susan and I were very lucky that we got to attend one race weekend last year – Road America. Fortunately that was a double-header weekend, so we were actually present for two races in 2020.

Most of you know of Susan’s battle with cancer over the last few months, since she was diagnosed in July. I am very happy to report that things are still currently on the upswing and she is doing great. We had a scare in March however, when she tested positive for COVID, along with her son who lives with us. Ironically, she tested positive just a few days before she was to be vaccinated. Knowing her immune system was still very weak from six months of harsh chemo and then surgery – we feared the worst. As it turns out, Susan had a very mild case and came through it just fine.

How did I do? I was immediately quarantined and got tested twice, but never tested positive and had no symptoms. I was wondering if I had gotten the virus earlier and had the antibodies that had protected me from infection. I got tested for the antibodies and I was negative. Somehow, I had lived among the hotbed of my two infected housemates and came out without COVID.

Most people that have read this site for the past year know that I am not the world’s biggest coronaphobe. For whatever reason, the way a person feels about the entire pandemic quickly devolved into a political division this time a year ago. I have been cheered and chastised for my opinions on COVID and how to confront it.

I respect the virus and know it is a real and unpredictable infection. I know that some otherwise healthy individuals have gotten the virus and died from it. But I also know that is not the norm. I know that I am 62 years-old. I consider myself to be in perfect health, but I am in the age group that does not have an outstanding record dealing with the virus. I also realize that my wife is immunocompromised and was very lucky to come out of it virtually unscathed.

Up until recently, I was deemed “too young” to get vaccinated in Tennessee. 65 was the minimum age, unless you had underlying health conditions like Susan. Tennessee finally went to 55-and up a couple of weeks ago. Susan has been advised by her doctor to wait 90 days after her quarantine period to get the virus.

Once I learned I did not have the antibodies, I figured it’s time for me to get my shot. I will admit I am not ecstatic about it. In another lifetime (throughout most of the nineties), I worked for a major pharmaceutical firm. In 1992, we brought a drug to market that had gone through years of clinical trials. It was an antibiotic that had been touted as a wonder-drug with virtually no side-effects – at least none that showed up in the clinical trials.

Once the drug hit the market, a couple of side-effects surfaced that were completely unexpected. Throughout a ten-day course of therapy, many patients died around the third or fourth day. Even more experienced a condition called hemolytic anemia that forced many to go on dialysis. Had the company and the FDA been able to pinpoint a common thread, they could have placed a black-box warning in the package insert to make sure that patients with a certain condition were never given the drug. The trouble was, there was no such common thread. The drug was eventually taken off of the market, just a few months after its launch.

What’s my point about a drug taken off the market almost thirty years ago? If years of clinical trials failed to reveal those terrifying side-effects, what about these vaccines that were released after just three months of testing?

By now, I know many of you are about to blow a gasket claiming that I am ignoring science. No, I am not – but I think we are still allowed to ask questions, aren’t we? All of us should be asking questions, instead of blindly sticking our arm out for inoculation. So before you attack me in the comments section, please finish reading first.

While skeptical and a little uncomfortable about it, I am going to get the vaccine. I am probably not doing it for the reasons many claim to be doing it. The holier-than-thou crowd claims that they are doing it to help mankind because they care more than you about their fellow man. It’s not that I don’t care about mankind; but the two reasons that I’m doing are to protect my wife in case it is possible for her to get the virus again, and to be able to be allowed in public places. I’m afraid we are heading toward all of us being forced to carry some type of immunity card or present a sort of vaccination passport. If that’s the case, I want to be able to get back out of the house and enjoy life again. So if you wanted to see if I’ve outgrown any of my shallowness over the pandemic, the answer is probably “no”.

Getting back to IndyCar racing, if you listened to Trackside this week, you learned that IMS is going to host another mass vaccination project on selected weekends in April. Their goal is to vaccinate almost 100,000 people at IMS in the month of April. During the show, I tweeted in a question asking if non-Hoosiers could go to IMS for the vaccine. Hosts Kevin Lee and Curt Cavin weren’t sure, but they indicated that the answer was probably no. Still, Curt said he would look into it.

He kept his word. When he found out that, coincidentally, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb had lifted the in-state residency requirement the very next day, Curt e-mailed the registration link to me.

Tomorrow (Apr 3) was full and no appointments were available. They aren’t doing any vaccinations next weekend, I’m assuming because of the test on the oval next Thursday and Friday. The following weekend is Barber, so I can’t go then, since we will be at the race. I was finally able to secure an appointment on the afternoon of Saturday April 24.

You are probably wondering why I would drive four hours to get a shot, when I could go to my Walgreen’s just down the street and get it.

If I have to get it, I at least want to get something out of it besides feeling bad the next day. As I said earlier, we have not been to IMS in almost a year and a half. Some will say it’s nothing but several structures sitting on a big plot of land. Most of those that would say that are not regular readers of this site. If you come to this site often, you probably share my belief that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a sacred place that sits on hallowed ground. Whenever we drive to Indianapolis, I get more antsy and excited the closer we get. There is something that just draws me to that place. We got married on the grounds at IMS in 2012, so I might as well get my vaccine there also. It’s my own little bonus for getting the shot.

If you live outside of Indiana are like me, but would like to get your shot at IMS – you can register here. If I have to get the shot, I will at least reward myself with a much-needed trip to IMS. I was hoping my reward would be being able to throw my mask away, but that doesn’t look likely at this point – so I’ll settle for a trip to my favorite place on earth.

George Phillips

Please Note: With Easter Sunday this weekend, I am going to relax and focus on other things this weekend. Therefore, there will be no post here on Monday Apr 5. I will return here on Wednesday Apr 7. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend. – GP

9 Responses to “Another Reason to Travel to IMS”

  1. Brandon Wright Says:

    At the risk of being lumped in with the “holier than though” crowd, these vaccines have been in development for years, not three months. They started working on them with the SARS virus which is closely related to Covid, all they had to do was make some adjustments for this strain. They also don’t contain the virus so there’s no risk of actually getting sick, it’s just a set of instructions for your immune system. I’ve had both my shots, felt fine after the first, after the second I felt like I had a medium-grade hangover for 24 hours and then was good as new. Looking forward to going to races this year without having to worry for my health.

    • You know the crowd I’m talking about. They are the same ones who enjoy public shaming someone for taking their mask down in an open parking lot, or shouting someone down on Twitter for being selfish and not caring – simply because they express hesitation about the vaccine and have questions. Rational discussion is not allowed with this crowd. I know I don’t know a lot about it, but neither do they. – GP

  2. billytheskink Says:

    As an adult who admittedly still gets little-kid-like nerves about getting shots, I’d love to get all of my vaccines at IMS. That would help a lot!

    You all have a happy Easter.

  3. Very cool, George, that you will be able to receive your vaccine at IMS his month. I was thrilled to be able to go for both of mine at the Fabulous Forum, the former home of the LA Lakers. It also gave me a chance to ogle the Ram’s new home, SoFi, next door.

    My best to everyone and a special shout out to Susan. I am so pleased she continues to do well.

  4. MAURICE KESSLER Says:

    Too bad, you couldn’t be here on the third. The 500 breakfast club meets at 9am tomorrow at Dawson’s. Eighty fans & track workers expected to attend.

  5. Yannick Says:

    It’s great to find out that Susan is doing better again now.

  6. Ron Ford Says:

    Even after getting your second Covid shot, you will still be asked to wear a mask where required.

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