10 Things We Overheard on the Indy 500 Drivers’ Bus

“What’s the Snake Pit, mommy?”

Yesterday, I snuck onto a bus containing 12 drivers who comprised rows 5 through 8 of the Indy 500 starting grid. Among those aboard were Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Sage Karam, and former Indy 500 winners Tony Kannan, Scott Dixon and Juan Pablo Montoya. Also on-board were their wives, girlfriends, children and friends. And a heap of pallid boxed lunches, reluctantly eaten because everyone was famished.

The coach, less than half full, was headed from Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the start of the Festival Parade, downtown. A bevy of motorcycle cops accompanied us, halting traffic so we could speed on through. Fans lined the streets, waving and cheering as the motorcade whizzed by, though no one on our side of the tinted windows paid them the modest crowds any mind. They were too busy gabbing and laughing, corralling small children or face swapping for social media. I spent the 20 minute ride jotting down the most interesting things I heard. (Their names were switched to their starting rows to help protect them.)

“Don’t say that! My kids are here, man. That’s a fucking swear word.” - Driver from row 5

“I can’t promise I won’t fight anyone.” - Driver from row 6

“We were so boring last night. Just played Family Feud: Indy Edition. I’d give hints like ‘Winner’s Drink’ for milk or ‘Where You Get Herpes’ for the Snake Pit.” - Driver from row 6

“Last year, I didn’t even feel like I had a chance. My car was pure evil.” - Driver from row 8

“Look! That’s your dad’s flag.” - Driver from row 8
“Where’s yours?” - Child of Driver from row 5
“In the back, behind your father’s, unfortunately.” - Driver from row 8

“Why are the police driving us?” - Daughter 1
“Because daddy’s really important.” - Daughter 2

“You’re going to party so hard here in 15 years! You’re going to have so much fun. But for now you can tell everyone you were at Carb Day.” - Mother to son
“Carb Day is stupid.” - Son

“You have to be 25 before you can go near the Snake Pit. Bad things happen there.” - Mother to daughter

“If you win, we are renting a mansion in Hawaii.” - Wife to Driver from row 6

“This year, I feel like I’ve got a car that can actually make it to the end.” - Driver from row 5