Race at the Race: Being Indian-American at the Indianapolis 500
“Everyone stands up to cheer for the winner at the end, no matter who they are.” It was true, everyone had taken off their hats and clapped for Sato as he did his victory lap. “Same with Kanaan,” my brother continues. “He’s from Brazil and that doesn’t stop people from rooting for him.” Kanaan, who won in 2013, is a crowd favorite.
After we pass kids selling a $1 shortcut through their backyard and other kids charging $1 to shoot water guns at people, my cousin strikes up a conversation with three college-aged white guys. One of them says, “I’m still butthurt that a Japanese man won. At least it wasn’t Castroneves though. He doesn’t pay his taxes, but everyone still likes him because he can dance the mambo.”
Turns out the guy is far from alone in his racism—over the next few days, people will write racist comments on Sato’s team’s Facebook page, and Terry Frei of the Denver Post will tweet that he was “very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend.”