Monthly Archives: March 2009

Earth Hour 2009: Watt’s the use?

As I begin typing here at my well lit desk in the middle of “Earth Hour 2009”, I felt compelled to comment on this non-event. Looking at the Earth Hour web site, you’ll find a bunch of participants with pictures of themselves on Flickr holding candles. I’m really thrilled they feel better about themselves. I’m not posting to rip on the entire green movement….it’s the phonies I have issues with.

I have friends on both sides of the political aisle who call themselves green. Fortunately they don’t ram it down anyone’s throat. Even though I’m not the greenest person around, they have my utmost respect. Why? Because they walk the walk. A couple of friends went solar  in their Tulsa home. Yeah, I’ve got a few CFL’s in my house, but I also have my share of the time tested incandescent bulbs. I’m a little old school when it comes to my light bulbs. But as I mentioned, I’ll run a few CFLs to push down my light bill a bit. So my purpose in using a CFL is strictly for monetary reasons.  Just something about the warm glow of an incandescent bulb that a CFL can’t compare. Plus, it’s a part of historical technology that I’ll do what I can to keep from disappearing.

But, back to Earth Hour. I’ve got a bit of a problem with this whole concept. It appears to be a whole lot of symbolism and very little substance. I saw a sign tonight at an eastside coffee bar touting Earth Day and to come in & celebrate at 8:30. I can only guess they shut down the lights & had candles burning. And I imagine they, like just about every other participant of this “glowious” event blew out the candles and flipped the light switch to the on position at 9:30:01 pm.  I’d love to ask some of these people that if it’s soooo right to flip your light switch off and live by a candle, then why not do it 24/7/365? What, not practical? Hmmm??? Then what was the point of your little vigil tonight? Was it just to tell yourself “I care”? Feeling a little trendy, are we? Yup, that’ll get it done.  Talk to me when you throw enough solar panels on your roof to make your light meter run in reverse or start repurposing and recycling in a meaningful manner. Otherwise, don’t throw your shoulder out patting yourself on the back.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motel: 1963-2009

This week, demolition crews will knock down the final wall of the 96 room Brickyard Crossing Inn, originally dubbed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motel, which was abruptly closed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in December.

(courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway, circa 1966)

Opened in 1963 outside of Turn 2, the IMS Motel was never an architectural masterpiece, but it had plenty of memorable guests during its 45 year tenure on West 16th Street. Many celebrities throughout the years attended the Indianapoolis 500 and most of them stayed at the IMS Motel, given the fact today’s upscale hotels in Indianapolis didn’t exist in the 1960’s. Names like James Garner, Jim Nabors, and Paul Newman  made it their home while in town for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Many a driver stayed there during the entire month of May, most notably 4-time Indy 500 winner AJ Foyt, who typically passed on the luxury motor homes for a comfortable room at the motel.

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Newman’s roots with the speedway and the motel run deeper than his celebrity. He filmed many scenes from the 1969 movie “Winning” at the speedway and the motel, co-starring Robert Wagner and his on-screen and off-screen wife Joanne Woodward. Probably the most memorable scene from the movie was when Newman’s character, Frank Capua, returned to the motel after leaving Gasoline Alley and caught Woodward and Wagner (his team mate in the movie) “in the act” in Room 212.

winningdvd

When I found out the motel was going to be leveled, I was hoping to be able to get access to the room so Jennifer & I could get current day photos of the room and do some side-by-side shots from the movie, much like we do on our Road Trip Memories blog. I went straight to the top and wrote a letter to IMS president Joie Chitwood, but to no avail. I got a nice “Sorry Charlie” e-mail from the IMS public relations department a few weeks later. Hey, I tried! Hopefully Joie enjoyed the issue of American Road magazine that I sent him along with my letter. 😉  The last photos I took from there during demolition, Room 212 was still hanging on….although gutted and broken.

Newman was a fixture at the speedway for decades and became a car owner in the 1980’s for Mario Andretti. He made his final appearance at the speedway during qualifications for the 2008 Indianapolis 500, just four months before losing his battle with cancer to watch his rookie driver, 19 year old Graham Rahal, qualify for his first 500.

paul_newman_indianapolis_500_qualifying_race_may10_2008

The other more notable guests to stay at the motel were none other than The Beatles during their 1964 tour. Legend has it that during their stay in Indianapolis, fans were tipped off they were staying downtown at the Essex House Hotel. Their manager then put all four in one room at the IMS Motel.

Thus ends a piece of the history of the century old Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The adjoining Brickyard Restaurant and Flag Room Pub remain open for business with no plans of closing. The future of lodging at the speedway is uncertain. With the Town of Speedway undergoing a major redevelopment plan coupled with a struggling economy, it might be a while before anything transpires, but early indications are there’ll be a more upscale hotel and conference center sprouting up near the site of the former IMS Motel. But whatever replaces the IMS Motel, it’ll have a hard time matching the history and lore of what stood before it.

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