Indy 500 – Hottest ever

Indy 500: a longstanding Purdue AAMB Tradition

Ever since the first history night during band camp, I’ve known about the opportunity to play in the Indy 500. The Purdue AAMB has been an integral part of it for, as of now, the last 99 years. On the surface it sounds like a wonderful thing to do. You get to see all of you band friends after a few weeks of summer (let’s be honest, those are all of my friends anyway), you get to perform in front of almost a half million people, and you get to see and even meet celebrities. The only catch is that it is pretty hot. Sounds like a great idea right? That’s what I thought at least. I mean I have been living in Texas for a few weeks and acclimating to the temperature and getting some running done in the heat.

What I failed to realize was that how little time I actually spent outside. In fact the only time I’m really ever outside are walking to or from my car. This led me to an overconfidence that I was going to do better than my peers. Now during the school year I had heard some offhand comments about the Indy 500. “You only do it to see your friends”, “At least it’s not as hot out as the 500”, or “Just to prepare you, the Indy 500 sucks”. Now, in theory I should have really expected the extent to which it would suck. But all my friends had survived and wanted to go back so why should I worry? The only caveat here is that this year was the hottest year on record.

The worst part of the weekend is the parade on the first day. It’s just a few miles and we get some nice TV time. But this year, for some reason, we kept stopping and just marching and playing in place in the heat. From what I heard, the parade was about 20 minutes longer than usual. Which is a lot for a parade that’s normally only 40 minutes. Now I don’t have any idea what temperature it actually was in the full sun on the streets that day. But I do know that I learned about a new sense that people have. The ability to tell when your body’s cooling capacity is overwhelmed and your body temperature is climbing.

I became aware of this happening about halfway through the parade. I knew that I was about to be in trouble. My common sense told me I should drop out and get help, but I had to finish my first 500. I could see the ending. Granted you can see it for the last mile, but I could see it. This kept me barely conscious for the remainder of the parade before I all but collapsed into my friends arms and was mostly carried to our bus to cool down. BUT! I didn’t pass out. Which a startlingly high number of people did.

But surprisingly, it didn’t all suck

Now if I was to take the average happiness in each time segment during the weekend, there would be a resounding amount of misery. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again in a heartbeat. I got to suffer along with all my friends and I saw the beginning of the race from the pits. Oh, and I got to see Chris Hemsworth and Deadmau5. That was pretty neat too. And I can’t forget the band banquet staple of amazing catered cheesecake. So if anyone on the fence about participating happens upon this post, I sincerely hope you made it to the end. It was incredible.  Just do it.

My decision to continue however is mostly a product of a few things. Next year is the 100th anniversary. The year after that is my third year, so I’d get the same mug my parents have hanging up from the Mesozoic Era. The 4th year would be my last one and I’d be a senior, so I kinda have to do that one. So yes, I’m kinda stuck doing it every subsequent year. But I would anyway, and you should too.


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