The following is the first person account of CLARION NEWS Correspondent Kenn Staub's trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for "Speedweek"

May was always a special month for me growing up, the Sunday before Memorial Day synonymous with one of my favorite sporting events the Indy 500. And it wasn't just the race, it was the whole spectacle.

I'd get goosebumps as Jim Nabors sang "Back Home Again in Indiana."

I'd wait impatiently for Mari Hulman George to instruct 33 drivers, aligned in 11 rows of three cars, to start their engines.

I'd thrill to the sound of the engines turning over, the cars beginning to move in parade formation around the speedway.

I'd sit transfixed as the cars, three abreast, approached the green flag and then raced into turn one.

I'd hold my breath until all the drivers made it safely through the first turn and headed into two.

I'd settle in once the race was underway, watching the tape delayed television broadcast that Sunday evening - the only viewing option for much of my youth - until the 200 laps were complete and a winner determined.

I'd hope it'd be A.J. Foyt sipping from the winner's traditional bottle of milk, though I'd be almost as happy if an Unser (Al or Bobby, it didn't matter) or Rick Mears or Emerson Fittipaldi or Arie Luyendyk were taking that drink.

On that last Sunday in May, as Nabors had crooned, "How I long(ed) for my Indiana home."

Never mind that I was born and raised in south central Pennsylvania. I knew the Indy 500 was something special. I vowed one day to see it.

Jump to the present.

Let's just say I've lived a lot of life; various twists and turns precluding me from making it to Indianapolis Motor Speedway also known as "The Brickward."

Until this year.

I finally traveled to the speedway in May, making the trip to see this year's version of "Fast Friday." Though it wasn't the Indy 500 - I've long since lost my tolerance for the size of crowds that race day attracts (approaching 300,000) I was not disappointed.

I knew the speedway was big, the highest capacity sports venue in the world; a two-and-a-half-mile rectangular oval surrounded by permanent seating for 257,325 spectators. However, I wasn't prepared for the reality of just how big seating for that many is; especially since the speedway -- surprisingly -- sits in a residential neighborhood surrounded by streets and blocks of single-family houses built up against the track.

Once inside the venue, that "bigness" became even more obvious. No seat really allows for a view of the entire track. As a result, trade-offs need to be made; proximity to the track and the cars versus positioning for maximal viewing. Thus, in many locations, the approaching cars could only be heard, rather than seen.

I knew the cars were fast, powered by 2.2-liter V-6 engines capable of generating 500-800 horsepower that routinely propel them over 220 miles-per-hour (mph).

The cars were especially fast on "Fast Friday," hence the day's name equipped with turbochargers for the first time in anticipation of qualifying the next day. Sitting at the apex of turn one, slightly above and back from the track surface separated by a concrete wall and cable catch fence I gained an appreciation of how fast a well set-up car can go on a closed course. As the cars sped within feet of the wall, it became easy to understand how an error a driver bobble could spell instant catastrophe in these sleek, yet fragile open-wheeled ground missiles.

At over 200 mph, the cars come and go the head snapping in one direction and then the other to follow their progress. Easy to do on straights, it became more of challenge in corners. For an amateur photographer like myself, relying on a cell phone, video was a better option than trying to snap pictures I have photos of a lot of blurry race cars.

Auditorily, the doppler effect gave the cars' whine a unique distortion as they came and went. Unlike stock cars, which produce a guttural rumble, Indy cars produce a higher-pitched sound more akin to a fighter jet.

And taking flight was a concern that "Fast Friday." A hot, slippery track and gusting crosswind entering turns two and three regularly tried to upset the cars' balance the moment when grip was needed most. That, however, did not stop the drivers from taking risks in the name of speed. So many drivers were turning laps in excess of 230 mph, that those only running in the low-to-mid 220s appeared slow. Connor Daly, a native Hoosier, put it all on the line; being clocked at 243.724 mph in the speed trap entering turn three, a new record.

Off the track, the atmosphere was almost antiquated but in a good way something akin to what folks attending major league sports "back in the day" would appreciate. The attendants were plentiful; welcoming, courteous, helpful. Upon finding out it was my first visit to the speedway, a gate attendant tracked down Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Operating Officer Doug Boles to personally welcome me.

And wonder upon wonders, though there are ample concessions complete with "modern day" prices, spectators can bring in food and beverages. When was the last time anybody went into a professional sports venue where that was an option? The only restrictions: no glass containers and coolers no larger than 18 inches by 14 inches by 14 inches.

The month of May at IMS has since come and gone.

Sitting on the front row, from inside-to-outside it was Scott Dixon (four-lap average of 234.046 mph), Alex Palou (233.499 mph average), and Rinus VeeKay (233.385 mph average), the fastest starting trio in race history.

Defending champion Helio Castroneves started 27th and finished seventh, falling short of a repeat and his "Drive for Five" (a victory would have made him the Indy 500's only five-time winner).

Jimmy Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR champion, was a somewhat controversial Rookie of the Year; winning the award traditionally given to the highest placing rookie (this year David Malukus in 16th), despite his crashing out on lap 193 of the 200.

Marcus Ericson beat Patricio "Pato" O' Ward by 1.7929 seconds in a wild two-lap, five-mile sprint finish, winning his first Indy 500 and earning the right of having his visage engraved on the Borg-Warner Trophy.

As for me?

Like Jim Nabors used to sing, "I'm dream(ing) about the moonlight on the Wabash," and, God willing, looking forward to returning to the speedway next May complete with a well-stocked cooler.

The following is the first person account of CLARION NEWS Correspondent Kenn Staub's trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for "Speedweek"

A pair of North Clarion athletes recently signed their Letters of Intent to colleges. In the photo on the left Josh Daum (seated middle) signs with Thiel College to play baseball. Also pictured in the photo are Josh's mother Nancy Daum (seated left) and father Scott Daum (seated right) as we…

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