It’s the Month of May!

Is it May yet? Yes! What a month it has been and cars haven’t even hit the yard of bricks yet. So unlike last year, this May if full of anticipation for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 and so much has already happened before cars and teams have even arrived in Indy. Let look at what has already happened this May.

Always fly my IMS flag in May

May 1 – Before we can get too excited about the Indy 500 we had a double header at Texas. The Genesys 300 took place on Saturday. Scott Dixon won the race and is now only one race behind Mario Andretti for wins. It was Dixon’s 51st win.

May 2- The Xpel 350 was a slightly longer race than Saturday’s. It appeared perhaps Scott Dixon would tie Mario Andretti when he took the lead early in the race but it the end Dixon was fourth and Pato O’Ward earned his first IndyCar win.

Both races were enjoyable. I perhaps enjoyed race one more than others having picked Dixon for my fantasy league. I am again leading. The race itself though wasn’t overly exciting but a couple yellows and watching oval rookie Scott McLaughlin earn a second place win was enough to keep my attention. Race two started with a huge crash. Poor Conor Daly took the green flag, passing the start finish line upside down. Thankfully no one was injured. Sebastien Bourdais was involved again and was out of both races due to someone hitting him from behind. It was a tough weekend for Bourdais and the Foyt team.

After a fun start to May we learn of some sad news. Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser has passed away at age 87. Unser is one of only 10 drivers to have won the 500 3 times. He was also the winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 13 times. It is said everyone has an Uncle Bobby story but sadly I do not. I never had the opportunity to meet the man. He will be missed in the racing community. I expect there will be a nice tribute to him during the 105th Indianapolis 500 broadcast.

May 3- Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee begins nightly shows for the month of May. If you don’t already listen to this radio show I highly recommend it. You can easily listen at your convenience to the podcast. It’s a great way to keep up on the latest news. My boys laugh at me all the time as I join right in to the conversation talking back and asking questions that can’t be heard but yet are still often answered. That’s been especially true the last few days as I keep asking if Stefan Wilson will be in the 500. That one was answered.

After Trackside a new show called Beyond the Bricks will take the place of The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Now everyone knows that no one can replace the incredible knowledge and stories that Donald Davidson would share on Toga but since Donald has decided to retire a new show was started. I’ve only made it about half way through the first show so all I can really say so far is I’m grateful to Jake Query, who hosts alongside Mike Thompson for saying a heartfelt thank you to Donald from everyone who enjoyed the show. I have so enjoyed learning of the history of the 500 and fun extra stories when Donald would go off on a tangent. It was like sitting at your grandpas knee and he shared about the old times. I’m grateful for the podcasts so the wealth of knowledge Donald had will not be forgotten. I’m looking forward to listening more to Beyond the Bricks but will miss The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Donald, enjoy your retirement.

May 4- We learn some great news on Star Wars day. Stefan Wilson will return to Andretti Autosport with Lohla Sport for the 105th Indianapolis 500. As huge fans of Stefan’s late brother Justin we have always enjoyed following Stefan’s career. We’ve been fortunate to meet him on several occasions and found him to be just as kind and genuine as his brother. When he lead in the 102nd 500 I’m sure many heard my cheers. Hoping for great things for him this year.

Another amazing thing happened on the 4th. Robert Wickens was back in a race car. He drove sport car equipped with hand controls and was able to put his visor down and do what he loves best- drive fast. Wickens still hopes to return to IndyCar but is open to Formula E or Sports cars. I can’t wait for the day he is racing again.

So now as we have some time off before the GMR Grand Prix of Indy I’m guessing we won’t really noice as news will keep rolling in and excitement builds before fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It’s May folks! The most wonderful time of the year! This year we get to enjoy it.

That’s How You Start The Season

I absolutely loved the IndyCar season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. Part of that may have been because I picked Alex Palou to win in my fantasy league but honestly it was just a fun race.

After a longer than usual off season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NTT IndyCar Series had their season opening race this last weekend. The race drew a bit more attention thanks to NASCAR veteran turned IndyCar rookie, Jimmie Johnson. The other two rookies in the field while not quite as popular also drew new fans to IndyCar. Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean might be rookies in IndyCar but have made their mark in the racing world. Many were watching to see how they would do in the race. Pato O’Ward won the pole position was is very eager to win his first race. Alexander Rossi is looking to make 2021 a much better season than 2020. Drivers on new teams are looking to prove themselves. It was going to be an interesting race.

What no one expected was that it would be a Penske driver and two time champion that causes a big accident on the first lap. Josef Newgarden got loose and sadly chaos followed. Ryan Hunter-Reay was caught up in the crash and finished last in the race. Newgarden finishes 23rd. James Hinchcliffe who did not have a qualifying speed and started last was also caught up in it. He continued to race but was never a factor. Jimmie Johnson made his way through but then causes a second yellow to come out later when he spun. He was able to keep the car going and finished the race in 19th. I prefer when the NASCAR guys struggle a bit. I think it makes them appreciate IndyCar more. Johnson has been very respectful and willing to learn. I usually don’t like the nascar guys but Jimmie is quickly growing on me. I feel he will figure out how to drive these cars and we will see improvement.

Sebastien Bourdais, driving for AJ Foyt Racing, started 16th but worked his way up to 5th. I’m hoping this is a start for much better things for the Foyt team. Bourdais will be one to watch in St. Pete having won there twice before.

Pit strategy played a big part in the race and kept things interesting once the yellow flags ceased. Sometimes the races can become a game of follow the leader when no yellows are there to mix things up. Because drivers were on different pit strategies it left some possibilities open for how the race would play out. In the end though, Will Power and Scott Dixon were not able to catch Alex Palou on track or work their team magic in the pits to move in front. Palou led 56 of the 90 lap race and won the race.

Even though Palou had a sizable lead it was an edge of your seat kinda race for me. With Power and Dixon just seconds behind and Palou being a fairly new guy it could still be anyone’s race. I was ecstatic when Palou won. I always love seeing new winners even when they are driving for a winning team. Also, as stated above, I picked Alex for my fantasy league. Newgarden was the popular pick in my league. I knew Alex would be an unpopular pick but if he pulled it out I would be leading the league and I’m happy to say I am. One other person also picked Alex but my pick was placed first putting me in the number one position. I will savor this while I can. I’m sure after next week I will find myself mid pack again.

All in all in was such a fun season opener. Barber Motorsports Park is beautiful- even on the TV. IndyCar is back and we go nonstop for the next few weeks. Alex Palou won his first race. All is well with the world. Ok not exactly but we are seeing glimpses of normal again and that is wonderful. Fans were able to attend and it looks like that will be the case moving forward, although in limited capacity.

St. Pete will be kicking off in a few days and then we mix things up this year with Texas appearing before the 500. Texas will be a double header before we enter the month of May. Of course May looks to be exciting with a true bump day and I’m eager to find out who might be in the last Andretti car. While listening to Trackside today Kevin Lee mentioned that Oriol Servia would not be in the Andretti car and speculation over who it could be began. My mind immediately went to a favorite of mine- Stefan Wilson. Loved hearing Kevin also bring up his name. Nothing would make me happier than having Stefan in the 500.

Thank you for reading. I’m looking forward to the 2021 season and plan to attend at least a couple races. Our first should be the Indy GP in May.

Bonus- Just before I was ready to publish my post a package arrived form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I took advantage of some last season sales. Two shirts with the 2020 season that did not happen on the back. Simon Pagenaud’s Indy 500 car and one more piece everyone should have, a Mario Andretti bobble head. It was a steal, less than $3 and I love adding it to my IndyCar shelf.

Bob Jenkins

While sitting in the airport I learned some sad news. My family had just spent a wonderful weekend in Fort Myers Beach for my sons 18th birthday. We fly space available so Steve and the boys made it on the flight home but there weren’t enough seats so I was stuck at the airport. Between checking the status on my next flight several times I scrolled through Facebook and learned that Bob Jenkins has brain cancer.

Doug Boles has a new online show called Behind the Bricks. I hadn’t yet listened to the first episode but immediately listened to the second one to learn Bob’s news.

Bob woke up on Christmas night with a horrible headache and went to the ER. At first he was diagnosed with a stroke but it became evident that he had two malignant tumors on his brain. He will be undergoing both chemo and radiation to fight this battle. While he hopes to do some work for the public address at the Indy 500 it will be a greatly reduced role. He is hopeful he will beat the cancer and calls on his fellow fans of the 500 to lift him up in prayer. I ask that of you too.

I would guess that I first became a fan of Bob when I watched the IndyCar races on Versus. I’ve always enjoyed the races he has called and he felt like family when I heard his voice. While I didn’t start watching the full series until the early 2000’s I had been following the 500 since 1985 so I was familiar with Bob and it made following the season an easy transition for me. I’ve loved when he emceed the 500 banquets and always tune in for the qualifying draw for the 500. In more recent years we have even been able to hear Bob at Gateway Motorsports Park. He is a huge part of what I love about IndyCar and I always smile when I hear his voice. When I hear his voice as I enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I get chills. He is as big a tradition for me as other pre race ceremonies.

While watching Behind the Bricks, Bob admitted he can cry at the drop of a hat. It was about all I could do to not cry as I learned the news in the airport.

Bob, prayers have been and will be said for you. Thank you for making my IndyCar and Indy 500 experiences so special. I know that will continue. I believe you will win this battle and we will enjoy many more 500’s in the future. Thank you for sharing this news with your racing family. I will be praying.

“There is nothing like Bob Jenkins voice to make a race fan feel they are in the right spot in the month of May.”- Doug Boles

First Trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

For some their first introduction to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on a qualifying or race day and they are immediately in aww of the sounds and speed. My introduction was a bit slower – pun intended. I was reading a book, an AJ Foyt biography to be specific and my very first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was to visit the museum and take a track tour. Well today for the very first time my husband Steve visited the Speedway. Not sure he enjoyed it as much as me but he did have a fun time.

I’ve been a fan of AJ and the Indianapolis 500 since 1985. I first visited the Speedway with my dad in 1992 for a museum and track tour and followed that up in 1993 with a trip to time trials. In 2008 I returned with my son Matthew for qualifying and have returned every year for either qualifying, the GP of Indy or the Indianapolis 500. In 2010 my son Zach joined us and 2015 was our first Indy 500.

My husband, Steve, has never been a fan but we can usually get him to watch the start of a race at home on tv or listen to our stories. Today I finally got him to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. November 6th I turned 50 and we planned a trip to the Smokey Mountains to celebrate. I decided we would take our time driving down and spend the night in Indy so we could visit the track and experience some of my favorite things. Steve agreed.

We arrived in Indianapolis around 1:30 pm. We drove straight to the Speedway and went into the museum to purchase tickets. We did both the museum and the track tour. Similar to what my dad and I had done 28 years ago. We went on the track tour first.

I had a hard time not telling Steve all the facts before the tape of Bob Jenkins did so. I knew exactly what would be said but I just mouthed the words and with masks on no one noticed. I love getting out on the track and feeling the banking. The bus goes so stinking slow, I don’t need to go fast but I’d love to be able to do at least 60. Then I feel the bus goes too fast. I want to take in every sight and sound. If I had my way you would walk it, drive around slow and then drive around fast(ish) but no one asks me how the tour should go. The bus stops at the yard of bricks and you can get out and kiss the bricks if you like. I told Steve we could pretend to kiss the bricks but that right is reserved for winners and we wouldn’t be kissing them. That was fine by Steve he didn’t even want to get down on the ground after having torn his hamstring off the bone this summer.

Is this good enough?

I was willing to pretend letting my lips hover just above the bricks.

We finished our bus tour and went into the museum. Currently the museum is running an Andy Granatelli exhibit. I have read Andy’s biography years ago and he is from Chicago so I was glad to be able to catch this exhibit while we were in town. We learned some fun facts and Steve really appreciated hearing how Andy and his brothers got their start by helping neighbors on city streets whose cars wouldn’t start on a cold morning. These were guys with a passion and Steve could appreciate that. I think it’s safe to say that Andy Granatelli was a very passionate guy, from his flamboyant suits sporting his STP sponsor to his slobbery kiss to Mario Andretti after his 1969 win. The Granatelli story is a good one of the little guy finding his American dream.

I loved showing Steve some of my museum favorites, the Marmon Wasp, the pictures of all the winners and even Clark Gable enjoying the race from turn one. We watched the movie, took pictures and looked for our favorite drivers on the Borg-Warner trophy. It was a good visit.

Even though we drove in I had to snap the traditional picture we take as we walk through the tunnel and into the Speedway.

Steve refused to stand in the sun ☀️

After our trip to IMS we went onto Main Street so we could stop at the Foyt Vault. Steve does not enjoy wine but I do and since AJ is my favorite I especially enjoy a Foyt wine. Steve had a coke and we loved the bread basket with dipping sauces. I retold several of our AJ and Larry stories and even the time we met Dave Furst at the Vault. Steve has heard them all a thousand times but he patiently listened as I told them again.

We then went to my dear friend Lisa’s house where we are spending the night. Lisa is always so gracious to let us spend time here even when she is out of town. It is so appreciated.

After a short rest we headed back to Main Street for dinner at Dawson’s on Main. I love calamari steak and of course we had to get a tenderloin sandwich. After dinner we walked over to see the Speedway at night before heading back to Lisa’s. A wonderful way to celebrate my 50th birthday.

I wonder how you were introduced to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? With all the sights and sounds of cars on track or a quieter version like Steve and I?

Harvest GP

When we learned that the GP of Indy was cancelled Mother’s Day weekend we were so disappointed. My boys and I had not missed a single race. We don’t usually attend the Indy 500 but I expected that 20 years from now we would boast about never missing a GP. I know the tradition is not quite the same but it was our tradition. Racing on Saturday and then spending Mother’s Day at Charlie Browns and touring the museum and track make for a perfect day. 2020 looked a lot different. So then we thought maybe we would attend the 500 and definitely qualifying but while these events did finally run in August, fans were not allowed. Then we held out hope that we would be able to attend the Harvest GP the first weekend in October. Honestly, this sounded so fun. I love autumn and loved the chance to finally get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As the event neared it was decided that 10,000 fans could attend each day. No infield access, limited seating and masks must be worn but we were going.

Due to all the restrictions I thought we would attend Friday’s race and then view Saturday’s race from somewhere in Speedway. Part of what I love about attending races is seeing friends, meeting drivers, exploring he tracks. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this so we would attend Friday only. I was truly surprised at just how much we enjoyed our Friday experience.

We left the Chicago burbs early Friday morning. My dear friend, Lisa, hosted us for the weekend. We dropped our things off by her and headed to IMS. We had purchased GA tickets on the North side. As we entered the Speedway masks and hand sanitizer were passed out. Our temperature was taken and bags were checked. A couple trailers had merchandise and food. We found our seats and then the boys grabbed us some lunch. Had a tenderloin that George Phillips would not approve of but we still had to try.

After our lunch Doug Boles came into the stands to thank everyone for attending. We waved and said hello. Lisa and I decided to visit a friend in the next stand over and followed Doug down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs there was an older couple trying to find their seats. Doug directed them in the right direction and then told them to get on his golf cart and he would take them to their seats. Seriously, this is why IndyCar is the best. Doug is amazing.

On our way to meet a friend we ran into Curt Cavin. I always enjoy a chance to catch up with Curt. I love listening to Curt and Kevin Lee on Trackside.

Chatting with Curt

After a quick visit with our friend Joan it was time for driver introductions. I didn’t want to miss this because I always enjoy cheering for the drivers and I was especially excited to cheer for Rinus VeeKay who had won the pole. Rinus is quickly becoming my new favorite driver.

Driver intros, invocation, Star Spangled Banner and the command to start engines were all so good to experience. The roar of the cars was also amazing. The smells were what surprised me the most. You don’t always realize how much a smell can bring up past memories. I loved just sitting in the stands, soaking up the sun, sights and smells.

Rinus wasn’t able to maintain his position after the green flag and Colton Herta took the lead. The two of them then put on a great show. Lots of side by side racing and great passes. At the checkered flag it was Josef Newgarden that won, followed by Alexander Rossi. Rinus VeeKay had his first podium finish with third and Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist round out the top five. The weather was not near as cold as predicted and it was an incredibly enjoyable day at the track.

We met up with my husband Steve after the race and good friend Mike Silver for dinner at 1911 Grill. Steve and Matthew left early Saturday morning to tour the Air National Guard unit at Scott Air Force Base. Lisa was also going out of town to visit family. Zach, Randy and I decided that Race 1 was so much fun we would attend race 2 in person and purchased our tickets Saturday morning.

Race 2 didn’t have a chance of being as exciting as the first one and when Will Power won the pole I joked as I often do that we’ve seen this race before. We’ve actually seen in several times now where Power wins the pole and leads the entire race to the checkered flag. However, the weather was even better, we met some great fans and still enjoyed the race. Colton Herta was second and Alexander Rossi was third. Rinus VeeKay struggled a bit more in this race but I still enjoyed watching him. He finished 17 having apparently used a set of his sticker reds in race 1 didn’t help his second race but was worth it for day 1.

Met some Speedway residents- Corey and Amber.

After the race we met up with my oldest IndyCar friend, Mike Knapp and his son Kevin. It was good to catch up with them.

Catching up with Mike.

Post race we went to the Foyt Vault for a glass of wine before dinner at Barbecue and Bourbon. I highly recommend both places. We walked to the main gate for some pictures at night after our meal.

Sunday was a lazy morning. We packed up and went to a Charlie Browns before heading out of town. While waited to be seated we stopped at a sweet little store right behind Charlie Browns. They had some antiques, crafts and racing decorations. I look forward to stopping in there again. Breakfast was delicious of course and we were stuffed for our ride home.

We waited five months to attend the road course race at Indy but it was worth it. The schedule came out for next year and while I’m grateful the race is scheduled for Mother’s Day Weekend, I’m disappointed that there is not a race there in October. I personally think the Harvest GP would make a great season finale. There will be a second road course race at Indy in August. I believe it is a double header weekend with NASCAR. I honestly don’t have much desire to attend in the heat and with NASCAR. We will see, maybe I will change my mind. However, this past weekend was a blast and at least for right now I’m just enjoying that we were able to attend and make memories we will enjoy for a long time.

One more race this season, the finale in St. Pete. Scott Dixon still looks to be in the best place to win the championship but Josef has been steadily moving up. Maybe St. Pete will bring about a surprise. Can’t wait to watch and see.

Other thoughts-

Tony Kanaan was so fun to listen to in the booth. I hope he gets a few races next year but if not hopefully we will see him on the broadcast.

Big Machine hand sanitizer was passed out as you entered the gates. I love this sanitizer so that was a sweet bonus. Now I can refill my TK bottle.

Roger Penske has done an amazing job with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Everything was beautiful. So grateful he is overseeing this place we all love so much in these crazy times.

No flyover. That was a bummer.

Masks were worn quite a bit. Distancing was a bit harder because we were contained in certain parts of the stands but I felt everyone tried to be respectful of their spacing. I felt completely at ease the whole time.

Having been to every Road Course race at IMS except for the July 4th race, Friday’s race was beyond a doubt my favorite. Look forward to rewatching on TV.

Masks and sanitizer. Doing what we gotta do.
Zach and Randy post race.
Met some of the AJ crew at the Foyt Vault!
Doug Boles watching the start of race two.
Love the sign at night!

Tony Kanaan

For as long as my boys can remember I have been a Tony Kanaan fan. AJ Foyt was my first favorite followed by Arie Luyendyk. When Arie retired from racing at the Indy 500 I needed a new favorite. I don’t remember actively looking for a new favorite. It just happened naturally. Tony was always impressive at Indy and I immediately liked him. He was my Indy 500 pick for many years. In 2013 when he finally won the race I was beyond thrilled.

So it is odd that Tony Kanaan is one of the few drivers I have never really met. I got his autograph once but he barely looked up from the photo book to notice me. Just another fan asking. He didn’t realize I was one of his biggest fans, well maybe not biggest but a long time fan and he had always been my favorite. Zach was fortunate enough to meet him at Road America and got a great selfie with him. Hopefully I can do the same one day, maybe even without crying.

Zach meets Tony Kanaan.

I met both AJ and Arie long after they retired so maybe the same will be true with Tony. If my experience with Tony comes even close to the neat conversations I had with AJ and Arie it will be worth the wait.

First thing Arie asked me was if I was a Tony Kanaan fan. I responded I was an Arie fan before Tony.

I never saw Tony Kanaan win a race in person but we were at the Bommarito 500 last year and saw Tony get a podium win. It was a great day for Tony and AJ Foyt Racing.

Tony on the podium!

My first IndyCar memorabilia are Tony Kanaan shirts. I have Big Machine vodka even though I’m not a huge vodka fan. I have Tony Kanaan, Big Machine hand sanitizer. I purchased a Cabernet Sauvignon featuring Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500 win from Foyt Family Wines. Safe to say I love and support all things Tony Kanaan.

2010 qualifying at Indy
Boys and I celebrating Tony today.

When Tony announced he would be joining AJ Foyt Racing I was thrilled. I was extremely hopeful that TK would be a wonderful asset to the struggling Foyt team. I was also thrilled to have my original and absolute favorite driver, AJ, team up with my current favorite. Since AJ and Arie have some history it’s fun having AJ and Tony together. I love the respect AJ has for Tony and I’m grateful for the partnership. I wish they had done better but I remain hopeful for the Foyt teams future.

So as the hour nears for Tony’s last ride I have mixed emotions. I’m excited to watch him race today after yesterday’s 9th place finish and I’m sad to know it could be his last race. My son came in and asked if I was crying yet. Well I may have teared up a bit when we took some pictures earlier.

Tony, have a great race today. Enjoy every minute. Hope we see you back in 2021 for the Indianapolis 500 and other races. Thank you for being such a fun driver to cheer for. I never grow tired of watching you pass several cars on restarts. Thank you for the leadership roles you had among the drivers, including a heartbreaking day when we lost Dan Wheldon. Thank you for the laughs and pranks pulled over the years that just endeared us to you even more. Yep, here come the tears.

It Is August! It is Race Day!

Usually the night before the Indianapolis 500 I am way to excited to sleep. I’m still super excited but I was able to sleep just fine. My Month of May routine was thrown off though by having the race in August. While I’m usually not at the Speedway for race day, I am there a few of the days leading up to the race. Of course we missed that too this year. From home I still enjoy Carb Day and the Pit Stop Competition and always watch the parade. This year those didn’t happen. So I’d didn’t expect to have much that made me smile in the days leading up to the race but I was so wrong.

If you have read my blog even just once before you know I follow IndyCar because I love the teams and drivers. The cars and speed are just a bonus for me. I would watch these guys (and gals) even if they played ping pong. The way the interact with the fans, the fun the have with each other, the amazing things they do for the community, that is why I love IndyCar. They were thrown a curveball this year but still hit a home run.

I watched the driver’s meeting Saturday morning. It opened with each driver sitting in someone’s regular race seat. They called out that fan by name and said they would be keeping their seat warm for them until next year. I teared up watching and tear up again writing. It was the absolute sweetest gesture. It didn’t get old after a few drivers either. It was so fun to watch. Several of the recipients of the messages tweeted out how very cool that was for them. I can only imagine.

The drivers meeting itself was a bit odd with the drivers applauding each other and not many others there but there were some fun conversations with drivers. A highlight was Marco Andretti discussing how his grandfather Mario and father Michael would be leading the field in the two seater. Marco laughed saying, “I can’t believe I’m on the pole and I’m still starting behind these guys.” Honestly, I’m guessing he will have to work hard to not think about it too much at race start because you don’t want to be overcome with emotions and that will be a pretty special time.

Surprise! After the driver’s meeting the 33 drivers all got in the pace cars and did an impromptu parade down Main Street. Wow! That would have been so fun to see. Then for an even bigger surprise the drivers stopped at the house of some lucky ticket holders and surprised them with a visit and a bag of IndyCar swag. I’ve seen so many videos of these visits. How fun! Have you ever heard me say IndyCar drivers are the best? Well it’s true and they continue to prove it.

Doug Boles, the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is pretty cool too. He watched Pole Day out in the parking lot with the fans who had gathered. He visited fans with Simon Pagenaud and he issued his first ever decree. The “Keep Your Streak” decree was issued declaring that your streak will remain intact even though you are unable to watch in person this year. For some they will always feel that their streak was broken but for some this might help sooth the pain of missing. At the very least it was another sweet gesture to try and make the race weekend special for the fans and let them know how much they truly are appreciated.

https://imsdotcom.azureedge.net/-/media/IMS/pdf/Indianapolis_500_Attendance_Streak

So after all that race day is coming alive. While I slept great, I woke early. I’m getting anxious, nervous for the drivers and am so eager to see the green flag drop and learn who will drink the milk after the 500 mile race. I’m feeling both a readiness to get started and also am trying to slow the clock down so we can enjoy every moment.

I hope wherever you are watching from today that even though this race has such a different feel you are able to keep some traditions, start some new ones and find joy in the day we call Christmas for race fans. It’s not the day we wanted but it is still race day and I wish you all a great one.

Gentlemen, Start you engines!

Photo credit- Curt Cavin

The One Where We All Watched From Home

For many of you this years running of the 104th Indianapolis 500 is a huge disappointment. You had planned to be at the Speedway sitting in your regular spots, chatting with friends, cheering the drivers and enjoying a pork tenderloin. I disappointed for those of you who want to be there. My Indy 500 traditions are a bit different. I have only attended twice in 2015 and 2019. Memorial Day is a busy weekend at my house as my husbands birthday falls on the 27th. He is not a fan so we celebrate on Saturday with him (regardless of the date) and watch the race on Sunday. I supply plenty of snacks to lure my family in so they watch some of the race with me. We also have a family pool for the winner.

Don’t misunderstand though. I still have a huge love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My boys and I attend at least one weekend every May. First it was for qualifying and more recently the GP of Indy. Until this year we never missed a road course race at Indy. Even when we drive through town on Spring Break I look for that small piece of 465 where you can see the pagoda from the highway. We never stop but I make sure I see the beautiful pagoda and remind myself I will be down soon and stand in her shadow as we enjoy the road race or qualifying weekends.

Even with my love of Indy I was hesitant to attend my first 500. The crowds seemed overwhelming. Parking sounded horrible. The weather could make the day miserable. In 2015 we decided it was time to see it in person. Mike Knapp offered to help us navigate the day and we couldn’t have had a better day. Weather was perfect, amazing finish even if it wasn’t the driver we wanted and plenty of friends. We thoroughly enjoyed the pre race festivities and the roar of 33 cars flying by – well words can’t really describe. The 2019 race was very similar and I’m so thankful we were able to attend.

There is a lot though that you miss from the actual race when at the track and for me personally my tradition is watching from home. It’s how I enjoy the race. It was how I planned to watch in 2020 even before the pandemic hit. Now it is everyone’s plan. Fans are not allowed at the race and many are extremely disappointed. Well it’s not all bad. There are some benefits of watching from home.

The two biggest benefits are being able to follow the race much easier and air conditioning!

Even with my scanner or the IndyCar radio broadcast on I enjoy seeing the cars being discussed. I enjoy the replays and I immensely enjoy the pre race specials that are put together with behind the scenes stories of the drivers and teams. Back Home Again in Indiana is one of my favorite pre race traditions and I loved hearing it at the track but I love seeing Jim Cornelison and seeing the band and the drivers. I could hear it at the Speedway but not really see it. I’ve sat near turn one and turn two. I can see lots of race action but I see much more on TV. Side by side coverage allows me to not miss too much during commercials and I can even pause for a bathroom break. At the Speedway I wore my big bulky headphones into the restroom. If a great pass is made or one of our favorites has a mishap or takes the lead I can call the family in and replay it for them. I truly enjoy watching the race at home.

I watch in a room we call our sunroom. We have a 60 inch TV and the most comfortable couch ever. I make a taco dip with cream cheese, veggies and chips and make sure the family watches at least the start. If it’s raining I am dry and enjoy the pre race show. If it’s hot I turn up the air conditioning and keep comfortable. My seats at IMS have not had backs. I’m aching by the time the green flag drops. Even though our first race was only in the high 70’s, lower 80’s the sun made it feel much hotter. The boys needed a break during the 2015 race and we walked from our seats to the fountain to dip their feet and missed about 50 laps of racing. I was prepared that could happen but for someone who watches every minute and even takes notes during the race I hated missing out some of the action. There is something to be said for watching indoors.

When the race is over there will be no fighting the crowds or long walks back to the car. You won’t need to shower before dinner or even wait in long lines with a million other race fans to get a seat at a table. Your WiFi won’t have any issues and you will be able to tweet and update Facebook immediately.

Now I know a few of the things I’ve addressed are also things Roger Penske has addressed. Roger has added big screen TV’s and 5G to the facility. He has spruced our beautiful track up more than we could imagine with new signage, paint and flowers. I’m sure the on site experience this year would have been better than any previous year. Hopefully, some of us can experience it in October. Until then I hope those of you who regularly attend the Indy 500 can appreciate some of the things I’ve mentioned above and enjoy the race from home. My heart breaks for those of you who are missing your traditions. Traditions that might go back 50 years or more. I truly understand the disappointment of not being there. I made a trip down in May just to walk by and peek in the gates, dinner at Dawson’s and meet up with a few friends. If you can’t stand the thought of not being there then go. Hear the cars, see the fans, smell the rubber. No one can take that from us. If a trip isn’t an option then I promise you will still enjoy this race on TV. I’ve been watching since 1985 and every race still feels like Christmas morning.

Roger sent a letter to ticket holders and Indy 500 fans. He is eager to get us all back doing what we love.

Dear Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan,

I will miss you on Sunday. 

Believe me, there is no one more than me who wanted fans to be able to watch the 104th Running of the Indy 500 in person.

It is disappointing to run the event without all of you here, but I know our drivers are determined and ready to put on a world-class show for everyone watching at home. 

Especially now, during these difficult times, gathering with friends and loved ones for cherished traditions means so much. Hundreds of thousands of fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every year, savoring the final note of “Back Home Again in Indiana” and cheering for some of the world’s greatest drivers. The roar of the crowd goes with the roar of the engines. I wanted you here.

For Indianapolis and Indiana, in general, the Indy 500 means so much. This is especially true for our Race Day staff and local businesses in Indianapolis, who count on the Month of May to boost their income and take care of their families. 

But given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Marion County, running the race without fans was the right decision. 

My family and I purchased the Speedway and INDYCAR for the long-term. As much as I wanted to open our gates, even at 25 percent capacity, protecting our fans and “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the long term is more important.

When fans return in 2021, you will see many of the improvements we’ve made, including more than 30 new LED video boards, 5G connectivity and refreshed concession stands and restrooms. The winning driver and car are now lifted atop Victory Podium, allowing more fans to see the iconic post-race celebration. More improvements, all focused on our fans, are on the way.

When I was 14 years old, my father took me to the Speedway to watch the race. It was 1951, and Lee Wallard won it. I was able to put on a helmet and sit in a race car. I’ll never forget that experience. That special day shaped the rest of my life and made me who I am. It’s why I care so much about the Speedway and INDYCAR racing. It’s why the fan experience will always be my top priority. 

Thank you for understanding, and I look forward to seeing you next May. 

And drivers – start your engines.

Roger Penske

With Roger at the helm we know that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in good hands. We will return and it will be better than ever. Until then I hope you enjoy the race this year even if it is a huge change from your regular traditions. Happy Race Day everyone!

Let me know your favorite traditions or what you will miss the most.

Marco Pole-Oh!

When deciding what to wear this morning I did not choose my Marco Andretti shirt. I did not want to do anything to jinx his chances of winning the pole. Now I don’t really believe that I could have jinxed him him but it seemed to unreal to believe that Marco would win and in the end I decided to not take the chance. I wore my 100th running shirt and laughed to myself wondering if perhaps I was jinxing Alexander Rossi. Yikes! Maybe I did.

Marco Andretti was fastest in qualifying on day one of qualifications. He has always been a strong contender at the Indianapolis 500 and nearly won his first race at the track. Sometimes it appears Marco is his own worst enemy. He practices well but when it’s time to qualify he struggles and often doesn’t perform well during a race. The Indianapolis 500 is one race where he does show his true potential though and we have seen good speed and results from him there.

Marco has had four podium finishes at Indy but let’s be honest- no one remembers those. Only winners are remembered. Perhaps his 2006 second place comes to mind because he was so close to winning but I honestly can’t remember the others.

Marco has had Bryan Herta working with him the last few years. Bryan was behind Dan Weldon’s 2011 win and Alexander Rossi’s 2016 win. I’m sure hoping Bryan can work his magic and pull out another win with Marco!

So today I did some work to get the boys ready for school which begins tomorrow here at home- remote learning for my sophomore and senior. Then I sat down ready to watch the fast nine. Takuma Sato had a great run and held the top stop for a couple runs. Graham Rahal struggled a lot and had the slowest speed. Alex Palou held his own as did Rinus VeeKay. Great results for the rookies in the field. Scott Dixon had a great run and I would not have been surprised if he won the pole. James Hinchcliffe did not perform as hoped for the first Andretti car out. Alexander Rossi was the slowest of the fast nine. It was not looking so good for Andretti. Ryan Hunter-Reay was faster than other teammates but didn’t come close to Dixon’s pace. I felt sick as Marco went out and took the green flag. He had been so fast but would he hold on? His first lap was faster than Dixon’s but his second and third were a bit slower. I could not stand the thought of Marco losing out by just a few hundredths of a second but he didn’t. It was Dixon that lost out. Marco won the pole! Marco’s average speed was 231.068 as compared to Scott Dixon’s 231.051. History was made folks and it was amazing to watch. It is absolutely not fair that fans were not there because the roar in the stands would be so much louder than we could have imagined.

Many believe that Marco is only racing because his name is Andretti. I have always been a Marco fan. He might get in his head and hold himself back but I’ve always believed he has the talent to win. Marco has won twice before, 2006 in Sonoma and 2011 in Iowa. I admit I’ve thought in the last few years that maybe he should do like Ed Carpenter and just run the ovals. Those seem to be his strong point. He proved that today on the biggest oval. I’m a fan though and I’m thankful he is running full time.

I was thrilled to watch Marco win that pole. It was so close and that just added to the drama. My eyes teared up as we learned he was indeed faster that Scott Dixon. Amazing! Ha! Take that all you Marco haters. I say all the time that of course a win at Indy is the ultimate goal but winning the pole also puts you in the history books. You will always be known as a Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner. There is something to be said for that. Great job Marco!

Now just 500 miles to go!

Ryan Hunter-Reay congratulating Marco.
James and his creepy mask!
Father and son
Yep Marco! I was crying too.

During the afternoon practice NBCSN Gold showed reaction around Indy. Fans gathered outside the track all cheered. Watching the reaction from the Penske garage was priceless. Such a popular driver winning the Pole. It was amazing. So wish I could have been there! History was made!

Make sure you check out the afternoon practice because there was also an interview with Mario. His smile says it all! What a great day for the Andretti family!

Congratulations Marco! 500 miles to go! Go get them!

IndyCar Feast or Famine

Five races in fifteen days to begin the month of July, then three weeks off before returning to Mid-Ohio and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. There has also been talk (I’m not sure it is confirmed) that both Mid-Ohio and Gateway will become double headers. If so then in the span of 23 days we would have five races plus qualifying and practice days at Indy which are much more intense than practice and qualifying at other venues. Honestly, it’s fun for us fans but it has to be exhausting for drivers and teams. Many of us our still on lighter schedules due to the pandemic so we welcome the busy race weekends but I’d also be fine with spreading the joy out.

So I’m going to dive in talking about the Iowa double header, announcements about the Indy 500 and thoughts on the remaining races.

Iowa was a blast! I loved pretty much everything about the races at Iowa. The qualifying just made sense for such a busy weekend. Each driver ran two laps. The first lap counted for the first race, second lap for the second race. One slip can send you way back but one good run sends you to the top. It was fun to watch and see where everyone ended up. Even more fun was having a first time pole winner with Conor Daly. He had a fantastic qualifying run for both laps but only held onto the pole for race 1. Josef Newgarden won the pole for race two. I have always been a Josef fan but now that he is with Penske it’s not as exciting to see him win- it’s expected. Conor winning the pole for the Carlin team- that’s exciting. I’m always rooting for the underdog.

Simon Pagenaud had a problem and wasn’t able to qualify which meant he would be starting at the back for both races. Since he won race one and finished fourth for race two this wasn’t a problem but I could see how that could have been a much bigger problem for a smaller team. I still like the qualifying system for the double header but had it been a different team I might have been saying they need to rethink the strategy or give a team a second chance to get the car going. Yes I hear myself, just being honest.

Loved that Tony Kanaan gave the command to start engines from the car. Race two Helio Castroneves gave the command. Helio gave a whole little speech. TK just gave the command. Would have loved to have heard a bit more from Tony. Honestly, he appeared a bit nervous about it. I think the whole weekend was an emotional one for him as he winds down his IndyCar career.

The invocation was way too long. Let me preface this by saying I am a Christian and I have always appreciated that they broadcast the prayer. What a great way to share about the love of Jesus. Well apparently the preacher that was asked to pray on Friday felt the same way and then some. He turned his prayer into a sermon. Sadly, rather than reach others it turned them off. I saw many complaints about it on Twitter. You can’t make anyone feel any different by forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. The following night the invocation wasn’t aired. Hmm? Maybe because there was a shortened pre-show, maybe because the preacher went way too long on Friday. I have always appreciated IndyCar Ministry. They say a beautiful prayer and are there to pray with drivers before the race, hold services at the track and teach about Jesus to those who want to hear. If we have many more invocations like fridays I’m afraid the series will stop broadcasting them.

The race had its share of excitement. TK brushes the wall. Will Power looses a tire. Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay are involved in a very scary accident (more on that in a bit) and Simon Pagenaud goes from last to first to win the race. Loved every minute. Oh and don’t forget James Hinchcliffe in the booth. Wish he was in a car but love having him as part of the broadcast team. Now if we could just get Kevin Lee back I’d be thrilled.

As the race was going back to green after a caution what was expected to be a green flag lap remained yellow. The cars in the back of the pack didn’t slow enough and Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay were involved in an accident. Herta’s car vaulted over Rinus Veekay’s car. The new aero screen definitely helped keep the drivers safe. There is no doubt about that in my mind. It also protected Marcus Erickson from some debris. The aero screen did its job. However, I also wonder if the screen played a part in launching Herta’s car into the air. Did it act as a ramp? It looked like it from my perspective but of course I am not even close to an expert on things like that. I hope it didn’t. I do know it protected Rinus and Markus. I’m so thankful for that.

Simon Pagenaud was the winner working his way from last to first. Never change your fantasy pick when they have a bad qualifying you will regret it. I felt Simon could still have a good race but doubted he would get the win. Well I was wrong. So much for my fantasy points.

Race Two

The race is much hotter. 90 degrees. This has to make the back to back racing so much harder.

Hinch looks great in his suit and tie. So snazzy and does a great job in the booth. Just want to see him in the race suit for a few more years.

As stated Helio gives the command to start engines. Loved it. Miss him in the series.

Ed Carpenter hits the wall. Ryan Hunter-Reay has the same accident that he had in race one, hitting the pit exit. He does more damage the second time. Pato O’Ward has a bad pit stop. He had been running second and then he drops down a lap after everyone cycles through their stops. Simon Pagenaud had another great race finishing fourth. Tony Kanaan finishes eleventh and on the lead lap. Marco Andretti gets a top ten. Oliver Askew finishes sixth- great two nights for him. Josef Newgarden wins from the pole and Will Power and Graham Rahal round out the podium. Good to see some who have been struggling have a good night. Will Power was completely spent after the race.

I wrote about race one a few days ago, gave a quick abbreviated review of race two today. Since I began this post we have learned that the race scheduled has once again changed, making my post title even more relevant.

So while the teams enjoy three weeks off the fans miss racing. It was hinted at that Portland and Laguna Seca might not happen. It was announced today they are no longer on the schedule. To replace them three more weekends have become double headers. Mid-Ohio, Gateway and the October Harvest GP at IMS Will now each be double headers. I appreciate all Roger Penske and IndyCar have done to make sure we have a good mount of races this season. I know there are things in our world right now we can’t change so double headers sure beat no race at all. However, I really feel for the teams and drivers. You could see how tired they were after the Iowa races. Late nights to repair cars or even to change liveries makes the weekend even longer for the teams. As a fan I enjoy the races but I am hopeful that next year we will be back to single race weekends for the most part. Double headers need to be spread out if they do continue.

Let’s close with the Indy 500. It has been announced that it will run at 25% capacity. I can’t even imagine how different it will look. I am thankful that anyone who wanted to attend is able. Many chose to stay at home this year. We hope to be at qualifying but honestly if masks must be worn and it’s a hot humid day I’m not sure like that sounds fun. Might be a wait and see for us.