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Home Wedding Cars Snake Pit at the Indy 500 once hosted an "outrageous" wedding

Snake Pit at the Indy 500 once hosted an “outrageous” wedding

Tim “Friz” Garrison first arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May 1988. He was ready to be part of a spectacle the Snake Pit had never seen before, which says something.

He wore a crisp white tuxedo paired with a peach cummerbund and a scarf, Garrison’s signature accessory to this day. White-rimmed sunglasses framed his shoulder-length blonde hair – a bit frizzy, but a lot of rock and roll. He traded his Harley motorcycle for a fancy ride that carburetor day.

He and his entourage “dressed to the nines” – the men in tuxedos and the women in dresses – stopped in two separate limousines with beer kegs in their suitcases. Dressed up for a typical carb day on the track, but it was Garrison’s wedding day.

“Nobody knew there was going to be a wedding. As we pulled up in limousines, everyone watched the limousines: ‘Who is getting out? What’s happening?’ Said Mark True, one of Garrison’s finest men.

The grandiose arrival mesmerized hundreds in the notoriously boisterous snake pit, known for generations for its “crazy times” and home to crowds of people drinking, partying and sliding through the mud. Potential danger for any bride or groom who wears white, but they weren’t in the “sloppy part” – and Garrison wasn’t too scared back then anyway.

“I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be outrageous,'” True said when he found out that one of his childhood best friends was getting married on the speedway.

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Outrageous is exactly what Garrison wanted.

“I just thought it was something else,” he said, and asked the Speedway for special permission to get married there. He and his now ex-wife were big racing fans, and Garrison was affectionately referred to as the “Mayor of Turn Four” on the track because of his popularity at Snake Pit. He often spoke to the police to help people avoid trouble. Some officers liked Garrison too, he said.

Just like his unofficial round four possession, he found a way to lead the way with his wedding.

“Everyone who was there just came and watched the wedding,” Garrison said. “I’m not exaggerating, there were at least a thousand.”

The “wedding crashers” of the snake pit took an unusual break from the party to watch in silence as one of the familiar faces of the track got married.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said True. “The crowd calmed down during the ceremony. There were still cars driving the track, practice time or something. … It was a pretty amazing thing because who would have expected a lot of people to cover up in the snake pit just for one wedding? I never thought that would happen in a million years.

“It was a spectacle in itself.”

“Lots of people said I couldn’t do it”

“A lot of people said I couldn’t do it,” Garrison told the Indianapolis News in 1991, speaking of his wedding when the newspaper listed him as one of its “personal guides to Indianapolis” alongside racing legend John Andretti.

When he arrived on his wedding day, although they had previously received the green light from the officers, he said that they almost did not let him into the infield. But when they saw reporters and television news crews gathering to cover the wedding, they finally let him in.

“My mom says I live on the fringes,” Garrison said to IndyStar with a laugh. “Said I always do something other people don’t think about.”

This creativity and persistence made a day to remember for him, his loved ones and the other Indy 500 fans.

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“I never dreamed that my son would get married on the 500, that’s for sure,” said Elizabeth Garrison.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, she had previously visited the track for qualifying races, but never during the Indy 500 weekend – until her son exchanged vows.

“I just remember the excitement of it all,” said Elizabeth Garrison. “It was one of the highlights of my life and natural.”

The size of the speedway contrasted with the intimacy of the occasion. Although Garrison was standing at a very public “altar,” he said he was focused on the ceremony. He kissed the bride after saying “I do”. The audience clapped and cheered. In one photo, a woman holds a bottle of champagne behind the couple after they have been pronounced husband and wife.

“It was pretty much the party,” said True. “The whole infield was involved. It was quite a long day, but everyone was having fun. “

The couple then celebrated with a reception in Indianapolis, maintaining the Indy 500 theme with checkered balloons and a garrison with a checkered flag bandana.

“Life works out”

The couple separated a few years later, but the wedding was a notable stop in her life for the 63-year-old Garrison.

“His marriage didn’t work out, but life does,” said True.

He moved to Florida shortly after the split, Garrison said. He has toured the country, often with True. He took part in disc golf tournaments – his nickname “Friz” comes from Frisbee. He regularly attends church and rescues turtles in Port Charlotte, Florida, where he lives with his 16-year-old partner. It revisits its Hoosier roots and flies up at least a few times a year.

His mother is proud when she talks about him and says it is “amazing” to watch her son’s life.

“He really cares about his roots,” said Elizabeth. “And that’s one thing I really admire about him. He hasn’t forgotten where he’s from.”

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He remembers visiting the Indy 500, working “super early” on its masonry, and finishing by noon so he could spend the rest of his day on the track. He lived only half a mile away and also owned an arcade store nearby. He remembers making a proposal to the Kentucky Derby just before his wedding at the Indy 500.

“I spent the whole month of May out there,” said Garrison. “Believe it or not, when you’ve been doing it for so many years … it almost only feels like you’re a family.”

That spirit and sense of community has drawn Garrison and his Indy 500 friends together for a lifetime. True says they have been “brothers” for many years – they have scars to prove it, and they often look back and reflect on their travels.

“You can’t live in the past, but you can still remember and talk about things we’ve done, things we can’t do anymore,” said True. “But it was fun back then and it’s still fun to remember today.”

The memories often bring her home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Carb Days and Snake Pits, and the Fourth Turn festivities from decades ago. Lessons are anything but forgotten. .

“I think if you really have a soul mate, you know,” said Garrison. “One you are happy with every day, enjoying the same things. Hold yourself high, stand side by side as you walk the path of life.”

Contact IndyStar reporter Rashika Jaipuriar at rjaipuriar@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter @rashikajpr.

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