Addicted to the Indianapolis 500 experience

It's 1,000 miles roundtrip from Rochester to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

All you have to do is take Interstate 90 to Chicago, then catch Interstate 65 and head south to Indy.

Roughly, it's 10 hours.

Scott Sherden knows the route by heart, and he certainly doesn't need a GPS.

He's been there, done that, oh, hundreds of times.


"It never gets old,'' he said. "Every year I look forward to making the trip.''

One which he'll do again Saturday, in time for Sunday's running of the 94th Indianapolis 500.

Sherden, a lieutenant with the Rochester Police Department, has missed only one race since he started going full time in 1981.

But he was hooked long before that.

"Back in the 1960s, we couldn't get tickets to the race; they were almost impossible to get,'' Sherden said, "so my dad (D.T.) first took us to the Time Trials. My first time was 1968. Back then the Time Trials were huge; the stands were always packed.''

The Sherdens lived in Des Plaines, Ill., just north of Chicago, and only about four hours from the track.

But his dad was transferred to Rochester by IBM in 1972, which made going to the track a little more difficult.

But when you're hooked, you're hooked. No big deal.


"We still went,'' Sherden said, "although in the mid 1970s I missed a few because of all the sports I was involved in at school.''

Sherden was a John Marshall and Mankato State graduate and joined the Rochester Police Department in November of 1981.

Early in 1981, he was finally able to get Indy tickets on his own.

"The only year I missed going was 1982'' he said. "My family was receiving threatening phone calls from a guy I had arrested, and I didn't want to risk going.''

One year, he had knee surgery two weeks before the race.

Hey, no big deal.

"The walk to the track is about a mile,''he said, "so going on crutches that far would have been quite a challenge. So I brought an old bike at an auction, latched it to the roof of the car and then rode it to the track on race day. After the race, I donated it to a dumpster.''

His older brother Dave and younger brother Bruce also have tickets, four each. Scott has six so that makes it a mini-Sherden weekend every Memorial Day. Sons, daughters, wives, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles.


"It's hectic getting everyone together,'' said Sherden, who also served as head girls track coach at JM for a number of years."Sometimes we're still making our final plans the morning we're supposed to be leaving.''

The families meet in Remington, Ind., on Saturday night, which is about two hours north of the track and then they head south to Indianapolis no later than 7 in the morning.

"I took my youngest son (Colin) to his first race in 2002,'' Sherden said. "He's now 13 and can tell you in detail every race he's seen. He's the historian in our group.''

His tickets are in the "J'' section, which is partway down from turn four. He can see cars going into turn three and the straightaway all the way to turn one.

"When I first got seats, they weren't the best,''' he said, "because you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. I gradually moved over, and now I don't envision ever moving.''

He loved watching A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti in their prime and Danica Patrick's first Indy race in 2005 is "one I'll never forget. She was leading the race at the end and almost won it,''' he said.

A year later, Marco Andretti had the lead on the final lap, but Sam Hornish Jr. passed him just before the finish line, making it the second-closest finish in race history. "It doesn't get any better than that,'' Sherden said.

But it's more than the racing. "I love the sights and sounds, and all of the pageantry on raceday. Watching the speed of the cars, the National Anthem, the smells and the call, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.' If you don't get chills, you never will.


"You become addicted. I know I am."

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