Maybe it's only fair to postpone the race until Saturday. How many days in a row can you ask the same 350,000 people to get blind drunk and soaked? After all, how many brain cells can dance on a pinhead?
How 'bout that telecast?
Now, live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the show all America wanted to see. ABC, the leader in sports television, spanning the globe to present the ever-changing variety of sports, is proud to bring you, live for the first time ever: the longest rain delay since Noah.
Five hours and 43 minutes of rain delay.
Hi there, Al Sleet here, your hippy-dippy weatherman with your hippy-dippy weather, man. Today's high? You're looking at him, man. Today's low? Check out the faces in the ABC truck, man, basset hounds.
Good afternoon, racing fans, and welcome to the dead air portion of our show. We'll be with you approximately forever as we try to come up with something to persuade you that this race might actually be run in this calendar year.
We're standing trackside with Tom Binford, chief steward at Indianapolis. You all know him by now. We've asked him all sorts of questions. In fact, the only things we haven't asked him for are the heights, weights and times in the 40 for his children. Tommy, this is the 37th time we've talked to you this hour, but for the benefit of anyone who might have wandered in from Mars, could you recap the situation for us?
It's raining. It's pouring. The old man is snoring.
I may have asked you this before, but do you think we can get the race in?
Why not? If it stops raining soon, say within the next 10 seconds, it would only take us three hours to dry the track. It's amazing what Bounty, the quicker picker-upper, will do.
Excuse me, Tom, they're feeding me a question through my earpiece. Tom, this is from Jim McKay back in the booth. He says that we've probably asked you this before, but do you think we can get the race in?
Habits are so hard to break. Sunday morning at 11 sharp, I turned on the TV set to ABC to see McKay give the Indianapolis weather forecast.
By the way, who did McKay have to know to get a job like this, Willard?
Sarajevo wasn't torture enough? Day after day, blizzards forced McKay to vamp his way through a Winter Olympics that was being, you'll pardon the expression, snowed out, and unleash that goofball minstrel, John Denver, on an unsuspecting world. Now, two years later, he's back on the weather beat. The least ABC could do is buy him a Burberry raincoat. In that blue blazer he looks like an assistant manager at K-Mart.
How 'bout that jet dryer?
Talk about high-ballin' down the highway, what do you figure she'll do, 3, 4 miles an hour? One lap around with that baby and it's Friday.
How 'bout ABC's good luck at finally going live with this Indy? Who signed the deal, a refugee from New Coke?
How 'bout Sam Posey's tie?
Yeah, that was some piece of business with Posey, McKay and Jim Lampley -- all of them talking about Posey's tie and how he got it from the artist, Frank Stella. That's the kind of hard-hitting celebrity journalism we need more of. It's just a pity no one asked about Lampley's shoes, or his five favorite luncheon meats.
How 'bout them interviews? I didn't mind the first 29 times I heard one of the ABC field reporters ask: How will this rain delay affect you? But the last 162 times, enough. There must have been something else to ask somebody: Do you go to self serve or full serve? Ever bite the head off a live chicken?
Were there any licensed drivers in the state of Indiana who did not appear on camera? I've seen enough of Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan to get me through the winter -- how about you? Speaking of interviews, what happened to Chris Economaki and His Highness of Garble, Jackie (Agggh, Jim, thar's blue schmoooke a-comin' frum his ingine, whut a turrrrible shame) Stewart?
How 'bout those previous Indy 500s on videotape? Wouldn't it have been nice if ABC kept identifying them as previous races, on the slim chance that some of us switched channels briefly -- and reluctantly, of course -- during this riveting telecast? Two or three times I flipped my dial back to ABC, saw cars zooming around and thought the race actually had started, and I hadn't gotten to the window to get my bet down.
Here's what I wonder about: We're always being told how fearless these Indy car drivers are. Why can't they race in the rain?
What's the problem, are the Budweiser logos going to get smudged? Why does the event shut down as soon as someone walks on the track with a squeegee? What is this, a Wicked Witch of the West complex?
I'll tell you what, if I could drive on a surface without potholes, never have to make a right turn and each time I pulled over I got new oil, new tires and a fill-up within 45 seconds, I'd be glad to drive. If perfect weather is so important, hold the race in Capital Centre. (That's 100 miles each way from the District to Capital Centre, then 600 laps inside.)
You and I, we're driving on the Beltway, got the radio turned up; suddenly, it starts to rain. Do we pull over and say, that's enough for me, I'll just sit this dance out. Of course not. We slow down and keep driving.
If they ran the Indianapolis 500 like that, slowly, at a civilized speed like 50-55, it probably would be safer. At the least it would be over by now.