12 January 2010

Why It Pays to Have Useless Knowledge

When I was in college, trivia nights were some of my favorite evenings to head out in Boston.  Besides trying to win free merchandise/drinks/etc., I knew plenty of useless information - who played third base for the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, for example (the answer, of course, is the mulleted Kelly Gruber).

So, occasionally, these contest will pop up again, though I don't frequent the bars nearly as often as I used to.  Which is why Twitter can be a nice alternative - last Friday, @IndyTalk offered 10 spots at the Borg-Warner trophy and ring ceremony to Facebook and Twitter followers who could answer a trivia question about Helio Castroneves.

Now, I'll admit, I used the Indy 500 stats page to memorize some quick facts about Helio - and there were some questions I would have no knowledge of (after all, I'm not Donald Davidson).  But I did manage to snag a place in the group for the ceremony, courtesy of a prompt reply to the question, "How many laps has Helio Castroneves led at the Indianapolis 500?"  (Of course the answer is 228.)

Fellow twitterite @Fieldof33 (word of warning: he knows what Roy Hobbson looks like, which is similar to knowing whom Keyser Soze is) was among the 10 winners as well, and IMS's Eric Stam, their Assistant Coordinator of  Direct Marketing, gave us a quick rundown of the day and then we were on our way.

Our first stop was at the Borg-Warner Trophy, which was freshly polished and ready to reveal the third bust of Castroneves on its base.  The IMS staff was kind enough to allow us to take pictures of it and actually take a group photo of the 10 winners in front of the trophy with the guest of honor, Helio Castroneves.

(Overheard in the process, as the photographers were snapping early photos of us and getting their lighting right - "Who are these guys?"  "I don't know they won some contest on Twitter or something.")  

In any case, they were kind enough to snap our photos (you can guess as to which one of those 10 writes this), and Helio was his typical showman self - hamming it up for the cameras in Wilbur Shaw's 1940 Boyle Masserati (right).  We were inside the ropes, snapping as many photos as was desired before we were ushered into the Hall of Fame Museum Theatre to take in a quick highlight video with the man of the hour.

Bob Jenkins gave us a nice welcome and then introduced Helio Castroneves, who was kind enough to thank us for coming to the event.  They weren't lying about the video being brief - it may have covered 5 minutes, tops, but it got the highlights of each one of Castroneves' 500 wins (even if it glossed over the 2002 finish).  Bob gave Helio a hard time about aging from 2001 to today, but I think he can be forgiven after everything he has been through in the last year, from his tax evasion trial to winning the 500 to becoming a father.

After the video, we went back to the Borg-Warner, where Jeff Belskus presented Helio with his champions' ring.  They revealed the bust on the Borg, which brought about some more cracks about Helio's age.

After receiving his ring, IMS had one more gift for Helio, as Belskus came out again to give the new father a basket full of racing-related baby clothes for his newborn daughter.  Helio had the line of the day, however, remarking that he knew he would not raise his daughter to be a racecar driver; instead, Helio might push her towards becoming a lawyer, because, in his words, "You can never have enough lawyers in the family."

With that, the local media began their descent on Helio, getting soundbytes for tonight's local news.  Even a Brazilian TV crew showed up, promoting the March 14 race in Sao Paolo.  And with the 2010 meetings beginning today and the ceremony this morning, it is just 51 days until the Izod IndyCar Series gets going.


  1. The greatest trick the Blogger ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

    [gimp-walks out to a waiting Jaguar]

    (Good stuff here, BP. It's like REAL journalism. Radical!!)

  2. If all it took to engage in real journalism was a couple pitchers of beer and trivia, I'd be set.

    Sorry I missed the chance to try and become the Kobayashi to your Soze on Monday night.