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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Ticket #17: Ready to blow your senses?

This is the 17th in a series of 18 stories examining the best events an Indiana sports fan would want to see over a lifetime.

Imagine standing next to the speakers at an AC/DC concert, or maybe on the runway as a fighter jet takes off, or how about in the middle of a nursery when every kid is screaming?

That's about a tenth of what it sounds like and, yes, even feels like to attend the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

It's the most prestigious drag- racing event in the world. Imagine if the NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula 1 series all had their premier races in the same place over the same weekend, and that's kind of what it's like at this event because the biggest, greatest divisions in drag racing hold their Super Bowl events over this weekend.

It's not always the easiest event to get to or get out of because it's wall-to-wall people and there are only a couple of ways into the park. Getting in or out can take up to 90 minutes because everyone wants in on those two lanes, and if you get mixed up and into the wrong lane, you're stuck there.

Once you get in, it's a unique experience because of the racing and all the people, and you better not forget your earplugs. It's an assault on the senses with the sounds, the vibrations, the sights and the smells. When standing near the track, you can feel the sound and vibrations in your chest. There are also lots of people wearing masks because of the ethanol the cars burn.

If you want to play a joke on a friend, don't warn him what's coming, then watch his expression as the cars take off down the track. The experience has been known to knock over some unknowing fans. By the time they reflexively react, the cars are past them.

Most fans prefer to go to the finals, but many believe the preliminary eliminations are the better bet because you get to see more racing and more variety. The only bad part is when oil is spilled on the track and it takes time to clean everything up.

It's also not that comfortable to sit in the stands without earplugs, but the folks who go passionately and pack this event will be glad to share their knowledge and help initiate new fans.