Bricks and Bones: Chapter 12: Slight Reward: Conclusion
Today is Tuesday, and two days have passed since the 101st game of the Indianapolis 500. Healy and I returned to our car after visiting the Circuit Museum and having an impromptu quick conversation with the "Professor Emeritus" of Circuit History, Donald Davidson. We entered and slowly crossed the infield road. The vast orbital complex is basically empty. All the cars are gone. All the huge shiny convoy transporters are on their way to Detroit for the next race. Track neatly parked vehicles. Most of the RVs, the drivers’ private shelters, except for six or so, have disappeared.
We wander back toward Gasoline Alley, Bill’s car idling along at a slightly-better-than-walking pace. A weary, strung out security guard half-heartedly waves us through a check point. The complex of garages are all shuttered behind steel roll-up doors . . . except for one. By who knows what reasoning, the remnants of Dale Coyne’s team are still there, doing a final load-out and catching up with spares for the race. We park and get out to say hello, and there, to my absolute and honest wonder is Sebastien Bourdais. He’s sitting/leaning on the back of a golf cart, talking with various team members as they walk by carrying the bits and pieces that make up a modern day racing team.
Sebastien seems none the worse for wear, despite sitting at an odd angle and orientation – no doubt due to the fact that ten days ago, he slammed into a wall in excess of 225 mph at an impact of 100 Gs, breaking his hip and fracturing his pelvis in seven places.
He’s actually rather chatty, although he seems slightly restless and agitated. When asked how he’s feeling he answers in a bit of a world-weary way, partially due to this being the 2,459th time he’s answered these same questions, but such questions are reminders he will not be racing for quite some time; weeks, months, who knows. Although talkative as is his usual self, he’s also a bit slow to answer. He is no doubt on enough painkillers to knock even Keith Richards on his ass.
Sebastien Bourdais looks on during qualifying at the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Photo: Joe Skibinski.
We chat a bit more than take off, winding our way out through the track. We leave via the north entrance, slowly tooling by the lined up jet-driers and safety cars, and the garages and storage sheds necessary for putting on The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
We return home, to the leafy, tree-lined street of suburban middle America and I pause and look down the street as Bill goes inside. I think of Sebastien Bourdais, a man who shouldn’t even be here. A man of uncommon talent and bravery and skill. I think of concepts like “luck” and “risk” and “mortality.” But mainly I think of the racers. I think of Sebastien Bourdais.
I think of Sebastien Bourdais. I think of Sebastien Bourdais. I think of my friend/acquaintance/guy I met. I think of a man who should be dead. I think of a man who, but for the grace of God or Fate or Luck is still alive. I think of Sebastien Bourdais.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.
This series, Bricks And Bones, in its entirety can be found here.
Cover photo: David Yowe.
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