“Did you arrange any special hookups?” That’s what my son Dan asked me as we whistled down the PA Turnpike headed for the Indy 500. Oops, I had forgotten to ask any of my Firestone friends for possible box seats or hospitality suite tickets. Should have asked Barry from H&F or Chris from Bridgestone corporate... But wait, why’s the heat on me, if Dan works for Penske Truck Leasing? Penske = Indy, right? Taking my sons Dan and Steve to the Indy 500 was a bucket list thing for me. One of our associates named Vern told me hardcore racing fans also make the pilgramidge over to the Indianapolis Raceway Park short track on the Friday night before the 500 to see the rising stars compete. I’d never been there and didn’t even know which gate to go into. Eventually we found a back gate where the teams enter and it happened to be staffed by a few ladies with Cooper Tire shirts on. I rolled down my window and said something like “Hey Cooper Tire!” The one lady said, “Oh you’re with Cooper, hold on I’ll get your passes.” We’ll I wasn’t going to argue with her on the exact definition of “with” but she trotted over with VIP passes, parking permit, and suite tickets. Now I was holding my head a little higher, having produced a “hookup.”
We made our way onto an elevator and into our VIP suite where another nice lady showed us the buffet setup. No sooner had we attacked the food when our host said, “I’m so glad there are three of you here from Cooper since we need someone to hand out the trophies.” Uhhh, sure we can do that... Turns out Cooper is the big sponsor of this series called Indy Pro 2000. It’s a training ground for young future stars. As the laps wound down my sons and I were hustled over to the podium where we presented the top three with their trophies. An evening to remember. Sunday’s 500 was spectacular with a wild late-race duel ending with a Penske driver drinking the milk. Remember - If any asks you if you’re “with Cooper?” Just smile and nod yes.