there’s usually a bunch of photos taken,
and then, almost before you know it, it’s
time to start the race.
When it’s time to wave the green I give
the guest a tap on the shoulder, and then
I’m standing by ready to take over in case
we need to go yellow right away. Usually
we let the guests stay for about five laps
before we politely usher them off. The
exception was Jack Nicholson. He was so
into it that he stayed up there for 55 laps.
I wasn’t about to tell him to get off! A
few years later Patrick Dempsey waved
the green. Before he left, he turned to
shake my hand and made sure I knew he
broke Nicholson’s record!
Up on the stand with me is the back-up
starter, plus two observers. Between radio
communications and our computers, we
are able to keep track of the race pretty
closely. So once we get into the middle of
the race, everything settles into a rhythm.
During the cautions I try to loosen up and
make sure I stay hydrated.
As we get closer to the finish, my heart
does start pounding a bit. On Lap 198,
I check in with timing and scoring to make
sure we are all in sync on the lap count. We
confirm the leader car number, and then
wave the white flag on Lap 199.
For the finish, we have two special
checkered flags. Both are signed by every
starter before the race. One goes to the
winner, and the other is kept in the museum.
As the winner approaches I get myself
ready to do a perfect wave, timed to when
the car crosses the yard of bricks so the
photographers can get their perfect shot.
I try not think of the Indy 500 as being
different to any other race, but hours
later when I see that picture, it hits me
that I’m a small part of history.
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When Paul Blevin waves the
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Paul Blevin waves two checkered flags at the
end of the 100th Indianapolis 500. One will
later go on display at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway Museum; the other is destined for
race winner Alexander Rossi’s man cave.