Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

[friday]

May 3, 2013

Kokomo Speedway

The search for how it got its ‘feel’

Kokomo — After 18 interviews, copious note-taking, endless discussions and picture browsing for a story about something bigger than its parts — i.e. Kokomo Speedway — is nearly finished. To be honest, I’d never been to Kokomo Speedway until last year. I grew up watching the Indy 500 and picking a name from a hat, but my racing knowledge ended there. But, when you fall in love with someone who fell in love with Kokomo Speedway — most likely when he was still in the womb as his mom watched his dad race — your knowledge increases, exponentially.

On Sunday, Kokomo Speedway will open its doors after hibernating beneath the snow, cold and rain and the memories that were buried under blankets of white will crop up as the cars file into the parking lot. Handshakes will be exchanged, and a reunion of everyone you haven’t seen for the past seven months will be underway — usually with a beer or three.

During my first exposure of Kokomo Speedway, I loved it. I loved the tradition of everyone nestled in the same seat they settled into decades before. I loved how people knew each other as who they were — not the version they wanted to be seen as.

There’s something unique about a place where people’s lives evolve, but there is a Sunday night window they refuse to close. If they move, they come back for it. If they have work in the morning, they stay up for it. To have a spot of permanence and tradition in an unpredictable world, is what makes Sunday night under a setting sun at Kokomo Speedway so special.

It’s hard to find out how a place like Kokomo Speedway has developed such a “feel.” How it’s become a fixture in the lives who live it each week. I’m not sure you could ever objectively — it’s something different for everyone — find where the “feel” of it came from. Some claim its rich history, others say the famous names who’ve plowed through its dirt oval. But, the one word I heard throughout every interview I conducted for Sunday’s story was: family. Not one interview ended without the mention of family. There were tie-ins to tradition, respect for the sport of racing. But, it was family that made the wheels in people’s minds spin. When I asked questions about memories, the spark was lit and the word family was the basis of the flame that ignited in the stories that were sure to follow.

The process of this story was inspiring because the people made it that way. Hearing what a place meant to them because of the lives they shared it with and seeing how it stuck with them was something that restored my faith in the balance of the planet. The fact that on the outside, they’re there to watch a race. But, on the inside, the true story is they’re there to see the people they’ve seen their whole lives, they’re there to celebrate a tradition their grandpa celebrated. It’s a tradition I loved instantly and grew to appreciate quickly; getting glimpses into why this particular place means so much to so many has made this hands-down one of my favorite stories. Thank you for letting me tell it.

[friday] editor/ Writing a story about stories

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
[friday]
  • Editor's Picks An angel’s taleCarmel Community Players presents “I Married an Angel” all weekend in Carmel.Shows are 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.In the production, a wealthy Budapest banker, Count Perrin, is love-weary. He ends his engagement,

    July 25, 2014

  • This week's best bets 1) Look to the skies Several rockstars of the aviation aerobatics world are set to perform Saturday afternoon at the Kokomo Airshow. The show is free and starts at 1 p.m. at the Kokomo Municipal Airport. It will feature award-winning airshow performe

    July 25, 2014

  • Ziliak, Lindsey Living out my dream My high school chemistry teacher eight years ago basically told me I was dumb. It wasn’t because I was failing his class. I actually excelled in it and picked up this catchy tune while I was there. “A mole is a unit; Oh have you heard,” I remember si

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marques Bunn Kokomo native returning for hometown comedy show A comedian who grew up in Kokomo is back in his hometown performing all weekend – his second time here this year.Marques Bunn opens for longtime friend and fellow comedian Troy Davis at Laugh House Kokomo downtown. There are shows at 8 p.m. today and

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • This week's best bets 1) Rockin' in the park Stray Cat, Lee Rocker and Band performs a free show Saturday night at Foster Park, so don't miss it. The show goes from 7 to 10:30 p.m. and features special guests Tony Funk and the Homewreckers. Lee Rocker made his mark singin

    July 18, 2014

  • Editor's Picks 1) The Nutcracker Show Ron White performs his Nutcracker show at Honeywell Center in Wabash Saturday night. Ron “Tater Salad” White first rose to fame as the cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking funnyman from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Now, as a chart-t

    July 18, 2014

  • Ziliak, Lindsey Searching for my lovable goof He busted a move on the dance floor while wearing a woman’s straw hat, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. They say that girls want to marry men like their fathers. For years, I swore that wasn’t true. Then one day I realized it actually was. That means

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editor's Picks 1) Everyone's favorite ogre Footlite Musicals in Indianapolis presents Shrek the Musical at 8 p.m. today and Saturday at 1847 N. Alabama St. The musical, based on the Oscar winning DreamWorks film that started it all, brings the hilarious story of ev

    July 11, 2014

  • This week's best bets 1) Fair Entertainment Check out local acts Shiny Penny, Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel and The Time Travelers at the Howard County 4-H Fair throughout the weekend. Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel and The Time Travelers take the stage tonight, with Mik

    July 11, 2014

  • NWS - duckderby 33 Rubber ducks are back at Kokomo Beach On Thursday 2,000 tiny, rubber ducks will race down the lazy river at Kokomo Beach to raise money for an organization that may be one of Kokomo’s best-kept secrets. Jamey Henderson said there are still many people who don’t know what Samaritan Caregi

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller