Every Memorial Day weekend, race fans from around the world come to the city of Indianapolis, Indiana to witness what has been called the greatest spectacle is racing, The Indianapolis 500. As a kid, growing up in the small Indiana city of Crawfordsville, I always heard of the big race in the “big city” and even attended a couple times as a child (but never watched the race).

This year, I had the opportunity to go with my father-in-law and his family. As my brother-in-law and I drove early Sunday morning to meet everybody, I anticipated finally getting to experience the Indy 500 for all it had to offer. Sure, I can talk about the people, the sounds, the smells, the traditions and the race, but as I took everything in – the nerd in me thought about marriage. How could such a race provoke such a thought?

 A Big Deal

The Indy 500 is a single race where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe pack into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch and thousands more watch from their home.

In 2014, there were 1.2 million marriages and millions more were most likely in attendance to these ceremonies and celebrations. The average cost of a wedding today is roughly $26,720 (excluding honeymoon). Millions of dollars are spent on weddings because it is such a special time for the future Mr. and Mrs. I’m sure you can agree that weddings are a big deal!

Traditions

From the 500 Festival parade, saluting service men and women and past 500 winners, singing along with “Back Home Again in Indiana” and “God Bless America,” to the removing of your cap for our National Anthem and the the winner drinking the milk – there is definitely no lack of tradition before, during and after the race. As I looked out from the turn 3 grandstands, I saw flags, tents, grills, people that were celebrating (even if they didn’t really know there was a race going on). It made me think about the rich culture of tradition that has developed since the first race in 1911.

From the track to the alter, you see many traditions in many different cultures that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some couples are extra sentimental and emotional, other couples party like there’s no tomorrow, while other couples are simple and quiet and take everything in on their special day.

The Greatest Spectacle

There is a reason why so many people love this race and this sport. No, it’s truly not just about driving the fastest around an oval. It is training for years to earn your rookie stripe, it is laser focus for 200 laps going 230 mph with 33 drivers and a trusting your crew to make sure you have everything you need to hopefully finish and maybe even win. It is dedication and commitment to your sport, respect for the guy/gal next to you. It is truly a great site even if you have never watched a race before in your life.

So how in the world does this relate to marriage? Well I can tell you one thing – it goes far beyond a big race in a small part of a city.

It is “training” for years as you mature into an authentic young man or woman. It is humbling yourself to one knee (in most cases) and earning a hand for life. It is focusing on building a legacy together as two become one. It an unconditional commitment that chooses to love, honor, respect, cherish, serve, care for, believe, trust and so much more – even when its tough. It is trusting friends, family, mentors and community around you to give you tools when you need them the most. When a husband and a wife fortify their lives together as one with Christ at the center – that truly is a great site and you know it is special even if you have watched something like it before in your life.

Unconditional love – the love that surpasses human understanding = The Greatest Spectacle in Marriage.