500 Fest, Shooter McGavin, etc.

Celeb spotting is a month of May tradition in Indy

May 3, 2010
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In the stands at the Indy 500 a few years back, the crowd around me was offering polite applause to the celebrities rounding the track. It was hot, I figured, and energy was being saved for the start of the race. Or maybe race fans just aren't that impressed by Hollywood types coming to town.

The energy level, however, suddenly shot up considerably. And a rousing cheer arose from the crowd. The recipient? A  relatively unknown actor named Christopher McDonald.


While his real name may be unfamiliar, Christopher McDonald earned a place in cinematic sports villain history by playing Shooter McGavin, Adam Sandler's golfing nemesis in "Happy Gilmore." That cheer is one of my favorite celebrity (or semi-celebrity) memories of the 500.

I'm sure you have some, too. As Monument Circle begins to fill up with today's 500 Festival kick-off event, feel free to share here your favorite 500 celeb memories. Who did you get a kick out of spotting in a parade, on the track, or on the streets during a past month of May?

And, on the business front, do you think these celebs add value and luster to the greatest spectacle in racing? Should more be done to bring non-racing names to Indy in May or do they get enough publicity and perks for their efforts?

Your thoughts?

  • Jon Voight!
    One of my favorites was standing next to the Pagoda anticipating the fanfare of the start of the race, and Jon Voight walks by on his way up to the podium. One of my cohorts involuntarily screams "Jon Voight!!" right at him to which Mr. Voight turns and gives us a great Buddy Jesus wink and thumbs up, as if to say "yes I am". You had to be there, but it was hilarious.
  • Sargeant Schultz
    One year back when, we had TV actor John Banner as our guest for the Indy500. John played Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes and was a big crowd favorite at the 500 Festival Parade. Ironically, John showed us a somewhat famous WWII era photo of him wearing his US Army uniform and kneeling at an altar as if praying before he went off to war. He was a great guy and even played with us kids in the yard every day he was here.
  • About 20 years ago a couple of friends and I were walking down 16th Street the night before the race. As we walked along one of my friends said he saw Jim Nabors. He turned and yelled "Hey Gomer". He turned and smiled and said "Well Gooollleee" and gave us a big thumbs up. Where else can you have that happen amongst all the drunks and partying on 16th?

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?