This short blog series tells the story of how the Coke Lot event known as Camp and Brew, celebrating it’s 10th year in 2011 at the The Indy 500, began and grew. It’s alliance with the Brian’s Wish Charity and the $31,900 raised in 9 short years, is in memory and support of a young man who died of ALS.
The trail that leads fans to become fans of a particular sport is never straight forward or similar in any two cases. For me, it started with an invitation to the Indy 500 from my younger brother living in Indianapolis in 1994.
He was more a fan of the party that always surrounds the race, as opposed to the racing itself, but he knew the drivers and before the split, at least had an interest in the series and in the outcome of the 500.
His Carb Day party at his house, complete with hot tub, was an annual event that I enjoyed going to, even though I knew none of his co-workers from the Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center who comprised 90% of the guests.
It seems a lifetime ago, but I can still vividly recall the feeling of not knowing what to expect as we drove to the race that Sunday morning. After parking somewhere off 30th street, we walked past the campgrounds that told incomplete tales of massive fun and alcohol induced revelry from the night before. Through the tunnel we went in the Turn 3 and 4 short chute making our way, with the crowd of thousands, to our seats.
We sat in Turn 3, in aluminum stands that are no longer there. Infield seats that, at the time, I didn’t know were not as special of a view as in the stands would later prove to be. But to me, it did not matter that the cars passed in front of us so quickly and were only in our field of view for brief seconds when at speed.
To say the Nigel Mansell/Dennis Vitolo accident in the 1994 race happened “right in front of us” always makes me laugh, since no matter where in the 500 an accident happens, it starts or ends ‘right in front’ of about 95,000+ people. Although memorable, I was not there to see carnage, but fast cars.
I became a fan of the series and joined the CREW, which was the Official Fan Club of the (at that time) IRL. I went on to produce the CREW NEWS and MC’d at several end of year CREW Banquets, where finally we got Sarah Fisher to show up, after winning the CREW’s Most Popular Driver Award for the third straight time (2001-2003). Special guest speaker that year was Tom Carnegie.
As my interest and trips to Indy from Ohio increased, my brother transferred his job to Southern California. I wondered if he’d still come back for the race. I wondered where we would stay. I thought of those crazy campers that we always saw and figured we’d try that.
That would have to wait, as that year, 2001, he landed us free accommodations at a former co-workers house who was recently divorced. To say that was not ideal, would be to neglect the obvious and I knew, somehow, the next year would need to be different.
The idea of how to make camping for the 500 a reality was born and by the time the next 500 came around, the annual event known as Camp and Brew (since it rhymed with 2002) was started.
Stay tuned to the IMS blog for the next installment in this series to find out more! Visit CampandBrew.com in the meantime and share your comments for Tom and Glenn below!