6427 Miles: A Tour of America by Car

By Gerard Forgnone

Day 22

Friday, September 20, 2013

Indianapolis, Indiana to Livingston, Illinois

When you browse the internet on news sites, often there are stories that aren't earthshattering, yet they're still interesting.  I read a story on Yahoo about an old-time baseball stadium that was being turned into housing.  The stadium had fallen into disrepair over the years, and was, at one time, a car wrecking yard.  I didn't really even pay much attention to where it was located.

While I drive along, I often scan the sides of the roads to see interesting things.  Often, I'll take roads or streets just to get off the interstate and see what it's like in someone else's neighborhood.

When I got up this morning, I was heading from the East side of Indianapolis on I-70 west, to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500.  The freeways didn't really get close to the Speedway, so I decided to go through the center of Indianapolis on 16th Street, which takes you right to it.

So, I'm driving along this old road in an old city, fairly unremarkable, and what do I see?????

That very same baseball stadium!!!

Construction was still going on, so I snuck in the front door and looked around.  This is going to be a nice place to live!

They have recreated the diamond and baselines in concrete, to prevent them from getting muddy and needing maintenance.  Nice, huh!

That was just amazing to run across that, totally by accident!

So, a mile or two down the road, you see the backsides of bleachers right on the street.  There is no room to spare at this place.  You turn in, and go under the racetrack, and this greets you.  Awesome!

WOW!  What an amazing collection of cars!  This isn't even all their cars...supposedly, there are warehouses full of cars, and they rotate some in on occasion.

1964 Indy winner, the last front-engine car to win Indy.

Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America Sonic 1, holder of the Land Speed Record from 1965 to 1970, at 600.6 MPH.

A very early (1968) battery-powered land speed car, went 138 MPH.

This is a race car from 1903.  Note the lack of safety features!  Not even seat belts!

Can you imagine going 60 MPH in this car????

These are the fast cars of my youth.  I remember when this was high tech!

You never realize how low these cars really are, until you see that the tires are taller than the driver!

I went around a corner and gasped!  BIG OLY!  Oh My Goodness!  The real, true Big Oly!  Parnelli Jones turned the world of Off-Road racing on its ear with this truck.  This was the first time that anyone built an off-road race car from the ground up, and it dominated for 3 years.

Right on the other side of Big Oly, another gasp!  TWO Johnny Lightning cars! 

Johnny Lightning was a brand of small die-cast cars that competed with Mattel Hot Wheels in the late 60's and early 70's.  I was one of those boys who was targeted by their advertising, and it worked!  40 years later, and I still remember Johnny Lightning, and get excited by seeing it again.

This is the revolutionary turbine car of 1968, that totally dominated qualifying, and was leading far ahead of the competition when its engine quit.  After one appearance, the rulesmakers changed the rules to bar this type of car from competition.

TV does this place no justice.  Nor do photos.  You can NOT believe how big it is!

This is the infield, where there was a car show on the day I was there.

Yeeehaw!  Who wants to ride in a wagon again?????

An overhead view of the speedway.  Enormous!  If you include infield seating, the Speedway can hold 400,000 people, making it the highest-capacity sporting venue in the world!

A beautiful sunset headed West toward Illinois.

This evening, I made it to Livingston, Illinois, which has the nearest hotel to Worden, Illinois.  There were no campgrounds any place close to Worden, Illinois, so I stayed at the only hotel of the entire trip.  It was a time-warp experience, for sure!

The strangeness of it all is that my family, the Worden's, lived in Livingston, California.  Having Worden and Livingston right next to each other in Illinois was a real coincidence!

More tomorrow!

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