Even Mayday Ain't What It Used to Be

May 01, 2018

When you get to be my age, it's not hard to imagine that simply everything was better back in the day, but having said that, it sure seems Mayday ain't what it used to be.

When I was a student at Sheridan School - before the Cold War got fully to the duck and cover phase - Sheridan had a Maypole and each May 1st, we'd "dance" around it. Assuming of course that it wasn't raining heavily that day. But the McCarthy era, together with the prominence of May 1st in communist doctrine, eventually pretty much took care of that. Don't know what ultimately became of the pole.

The other important first of May used to come at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when the track annually opened for practice on that day, leading to a somewhat casual contest among the teams to put the first car on the track that year. Most of the competing cars were constructed in Southern California in that era and came to the Speedway on open trailers and only about half completed, leaving the teams to devote the balance of the month looking for the speed necessary to make the field and be competitive. In those years, the motors got the lion's share of attention, the suspension of each of the cars being pretty primitive and pretty much identical. Today, the month-long warmup to the race itself is history, and the teams put in most of their labor on fine tuning the chassis setup along with tire inflation, the engines actually being leased from firms that build them, with the teams actually forbidden to do anything much beyond changing spark plugs.

So, we won't this year be having a maypole for grade schoolers to dance around, and the town of Indianapolis won't be taken over for a month by a group of grown-up hotrodders from the west coast, renting quarters in private homes and working daily to squeeze out another mile per hour or two.

Too bad in a way.

 

Subscribe
RSS
Archive
January (3) February (9) March (1) April May June (12) July August (2) September (18) October November December
January February March April (1) May (2) June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November (2) December
January February March (1) April May June July August September October November December