Pocono Preview


This weekend the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Pocono Speedway. Last years race was so exciting, cars were eight wide on the front straight, a fox ran on the track and rookies were leading laps. Then the unthinkable happened. Sage Karam crashed and the nose cone from his car hit Justin Wilson. We lost Justin the next day. I’m still grieving this loss. I understand that returning to Pocono is completely different than a return to Las Vegas Speedway, where we lost Dan Wheldon but for me, I’m not sure I’m ready to see them race there again.

 The Tricky Triangle has been on my list of tracks I wanted to visit and yet I was so very thankful I was not in attendance last year.  If you were to ask my family who our favorite drivers are we respond that I like Tony Kanaan, Matthew’s favorite was Justin Wilson and Zach likes James Hinchcliffe. I’ve been a big Tony Kanaan fan but honestly after meeting Justin multiple times and having such neat interactions with him he really was my favorite. If asked I wouldn’t name him because he was Matthew’s favorite and we all had our “own” driver, Justin belonged to Matthew but deep in my heart I knew Justin was my favorite too. I was sad when we lost Dan but was crushed when we lost Justin. To this day the screensaver on my phone is a selfie of Matthew and Justin. Matthew gave me his autographed Justin shirt the night Justin died. I set in on my dresser and it has remained there except for Road America weekend when Matthew wore it one last time. I have a beautiful print of Justin by Doug Garrison on the mantle. I miss him terribly. It is going to be a very emotional weekend. 

So while I am thankful for an end to the three week break in the IndyCar schedule and am eager to see how the championship is affected (if at all) I’m not sure I’m ready for Pocono. I do know I will be wearing my USWAG Justin Wilson socks, have a box of tissues nearby and will be keeping Stefan, Julia and the girls in my prayers. I will also be praying for a safe race for everyone involved. We’ve lost too many good guys and having just lost Bryan Clausen I’m sure it will be a hard weekend for many. 

Josef, The Indy Car Driver- Book Review

You’ve heard about Chris Workman’s new book, Josef, The Indy Car Driver but you aren’t sure if you are going to buy a copy. Hopefully this review will help you make that decision and the decision will be not to buy just one copy but multiple. There are several reasons I love this book. Let’s start at the beginning. Long before I knew much at all about the book I placed my order to buy two copies of the book. (Here is a story about it) I always try to support IndyCar sponsors when I can and do my best to promote the sport I love so it was a no-brainer that I would be purchasing the book. The author, Chris Workman, offered several packages to chose from. The book was made possible from the money received from the pre-orders. I chose an amount which would give me two copies of the book. I became a fan of IndyCar after reading AJ Foyt’s biography and knew that kids could just as easily become fans after reading a book about Josef. I had to get a copy to keep and a copy to share. 

The book was launched during the race at Road America. I had spoken with Chris a couple times through social media and planned to meet him at the book signing. My boys and I showed up early and had a chance to talk with Chris before the signing started. I loved hearing his passion for IndyCar and wanting to share that passion with others. Chris signed my copy of the book while we chatted but my boys and I got in line so we could meet Josef too. 

Josef Newgarden was in a horrible crash at the June 11th race at Texas Motor Speedway. He broke his right clavicle and fractured his wrist. I was amazed when I learned that Josef hoped to be racing at Road America just two weeks after the accident. Josef practiced in the car on Friday and was given the okay by his doctors to drive in Sunday’s race at Road America. Unbelievable!  In the book, Josef qualifies 9th and goes on to win the race. In reality Josef qualified 20th and finished 8th. While I’m sure only a win feels like a win, Josef must have been very pleased with the race. He moved up 12 positions and proved he has what it takes to be a race car driver. I know Team Penske and Ganassi have to be even more interested in hiring him after these last two weeks. 

The book, Josef, The Indy Car Driver shows Josef’s strength and determination to become a race car driver and to win a race. We saw that same determination in his drive with broken bones at Road America. While the book is a fictitious account of the weekend in which Josef wins the race, we still saw a victory for Josef in the amazing run he had moving up 12 positions. 

The book begins with acknowledgements and a forward by Leigh Diffey. These pages are followed by a welcome page which gives some information for kids not familiar with the IndyCar Series. It explains the different tracks the cars race on, pit stops, the championship, the tires used, horsepower and what open-wheel means. The story begins  when Grandpa Jamie arrives in Josef’s garage with his grandchildren. Josef explains how the car works, what push-to-pass does and how Josef became an IndyCar driver. The story moves through qualifying and then to the race. The race portion references many of the turns at Road America as Josef works his way up to the race lead and the win. After the story ends there is a page that tells kids how they can become IndyCar drivers with a big focus on studying hard in school, eating right and exercising. 

I enjoyed the story and loved the extra pages with background information. The illustrations, which are also done by Chris Workman, are beautifully done and very recognizable if you have attended Road America. There is great detail in them if you look close. Chris explained to me how he had to update the aero kits from his first draft. 

The book is available for $19.99 through Apexlegends.com/store or Amazon.com. However, I suggest purchasing through Apexlegends.com where a coloring book is also available. Also please note that Chris Workman is doing his part to help others.  A portion of the proceeds, approximately $1 per book will go to charity. Chris has partnered with both Racing for Kids and Racing for Cancer. 

Honestly do you need another reason to buy this book. I have one copy and two on the way. I might need to purchase more for our school library. I love that I can share my passion for racing through a children’s book. I hope this book does incredibly well and am looking forward to Chris’s next book titled The Spectacle all about the Indianapolis 500. 

What are your thoughts on the book?  Do you have a copy yet?

Road America- Day Two

This trip to Road America has us in town and at track for four days in a row. I know that is a lot to ask of the boys so we took our time in the morning and arrived around 12:30. We missed the first practice but would have plenty of time before the second practice. We strolled through the paddock before going to the Paddock Store for the book signing of Josef, The Indy Car Driver. The author, Chris Workman, was appreciative of the piece I wrote promoting the work and offered to give me a book. That made my day. I just write about things that mean something to me. I wrote about the book because I love that kids can become fans of IndyCar after reading it, the same way I became a fan after reading AJ Foyt’s biography. The gift is extra special to me. Both Chris and Josef signed it and I will treasure it. 

Thank you Chris for my copy. 

Josef looking good after a scary accident at Texas. He will be driving with a broken right clavicle and a fractured hand. 

After the book signing we grabbed a bite to eat at the car and then went to the paddock to see if we could find some drivers. As we passed AJ Foyt’s area I looked in as I always do and way in the back was AJ, sitting with some others talking. I stood looking in but it was obvious AJ wouldn’t be moving any time soon. However, you could walk to the opposite side of the tent which had a opening the size of a door and that is what I did. I had my book with me. I stood at the doorway not wanting to bother AJ and yet I desperately wanted to get his attention. I was patient and eventually he looked my way. I held up the book and a pen. AJ waved me in. That was all it took for me to start crying. I asked him to please sign my book explaining that I became a fan after reading the book. I told him I’ve watched every race since 1985 but didn’t get a chance to say that I was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the day he retired. I showed him the picture of the boys and I with Larry. He seemed touched to hear how big of a fan I was and was put his hand on my shoulder and thanked me for sharing. He was also kind enough to take a picture with me. I thanked him and left and was pretty emotional as I left. I’ve waited years to get a chance to meet him. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if I could share that moment with my dad. I returned to where the boys were sitting and they couldn’t believe I met him and then laughed because of course I was crying. 

Still feeling super excited over my encounter I looked up and saw George Phillips (Oilpressure.com) and went to say hi and share my experience. I was still a bit worked up but I’m sure George understood, he is a big fan of AJ too. We talked a bit and I met the winner of George’s annual trivia contest. I love attempting the contest but I never come close to winning. 

The boys and I then went to find seats for the IndyCar practice session. We ended up in turn 8. The boys found a small bit of shade and watched some of the practice before turning their phones on. 

After the practice session we caught one of the free shuttles which made the boys happy and went to the paddock area to look for drivers. We saw Rick Mears, Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Dale Coyne and Sebastian Bourdais.  Zach’s autograph hat is filling up. The boys were playing on the rock again while I met some new friends and they said that when Poppy and Tilly Dixon rode by they waved to the boys. They had been playing with the girls the day before. 

We ended the day with a quick meal at Culvers and then swimming in the pool. We are all having a great time and love that we still have two days at the track. 

Josef Newgarden featured in a Children’s Book

I wrote this last year and it ran on the NextGenIndy website. I thought it might be fun to post it again since the book launches this weekend. 

In 1985, I had a school assignment to read a biography. I chose AJ: The Life of America’s Greatest Race Car Driver by A. J. Foyt with William Neely. I can honestly say the book changed my life. I was not a fan of motorsports before reading it but when I sat down next to my dad that May while he was watching the Indianapolis 500 that all changed. I was surprised to learn that A. J. was still racing along with many of the other drivers he had wrote about. I haven’‘t missed watching the Indy 500 since then. Eventually I began watching all the races during the season, attending races, started a blog about IndyCar and even became a contributor at NextGenIndy.com. It all started after reading one book. I’‘m so excited to see what impact a children’’s book about Josef Newgarden will have on young fans.
Josef, The IndyCar Driver will feature IndyCar star Josef Newgarden. Josef is such a high energy and fun guy. He has participated in many YouTube skits and IndyCar specials. He is always a pleasure to watch. He is very likable and well respected around the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock. Josef is also a great driver, having won two races during the 2015 season and was a contender for the championship. Honestly, kids already love him. This book will just help reach a larger crowd.
Newgarden will be teaming up with author Chris Workman to create a book that “will tell the story of his early career and culminate in a fictitious account of the 2016 race at Road America,” according to publisher Apex Legends. Workman previously wrote a children’‘s book about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Workman’’s book was made possible through crowdfunding and that is again the plan for Josef, The IndyCar Driver. Donations can be made on Indiegogo. The book is expected to be out in March and pre-sales will begin this month.
“Getting the chance to have your own personal story told through a book is kind of crazy for me to even think about. I would never have envisioned when I started racing go-karts years ago that I would even have a career worth documenting, let alone be featured in a kid”s book one day! I hope this book can be used in many ways- not just to increase interest in the world of racing for kids but also to inspire them to get involved in things they love and follow their dreams.” —Josef Newgarden

If a teenage girl can become an IndyCar fan after reading a book, I imagine a lot of young children can become fans from a book too. Even if they don’‘t become race fans they will have to admire the character and determination of Josef Newgarden. Josef is a great role model for fans of all ages. I can’’t wait for the day I am at a race and ask the fan sitting next to me how he (or she) became an IndyCar fan and they reply, “I read a book about Josef Newgarden.”

Texas- Rain Delay

If you have been following the race you know it’s been quite crazy. I’m not even sure where to start with this blog entry. There is a lot to cover. So I’m going to start by going back to the 100th Running of the Indy 500.

Carlos Munoz finished second in the Indy 500 and was absolutely crushed. He finished second for a second time and his heartbreak was felt through the tv. Munoz has always been fast and has proved to be talented driver.  He has won a race and always does well at Indy. His disappointment at not winning at Indy made him a little more personable to the fans. Two weeks later he won the Pole at Texas Motor Speedway. Some people like racing for the fast cars, I like the drivers. Stories like Munoz’s are what make me root for one driver over another and right now I want a win for Munoz preferably at Indy but I will take Texas. But wait it’s Sunday afternoon and the Texas race was Saturday night, well it should have been but Mother Nature had other plans. 

Saturday night after dinner with the family I went to watch the race and soon learned I would have over an hour of prerace show before green flag. Rain had drenched the speedway the track needed to dry. Perfect! I love interviews with the drivers and getting more behind the scenes information. We had the NBCSN crew back so this was going to be fun. However, one hour turned to two and eventually to three before the race was finally delayed until Sunday. No additional rain came through Saturday evening but the weepers on the track would not stop and made for unsafe conditions. The first hour or so of prerace show was great. The NBCSN station eventually switched to showing IndyCar Chronicles and highlights from the Indy 500. When the coverage did return it showed drivers tweeting and doing live Facebook feeds along with the NBCSN crew hanging out and trying to talk with anyone who was willing. Josef Newgarden was doing a live Facebook feed and suggested going into the stands to talk with the fans. At first he was told he couldn’t do it but eventually was given permission and the idea gained momentum. Many of the Verizon IndyCar drivers went into the stands to do an impromptu autograph session. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating–IndyCar drivers are the best!!!  Joining Josef Newgarden was James Hinchcliffe, Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastian Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Carlos Munoz, Mikhail Aleshin and others. Has anyone ever heard of this happening before and with so many of the field willing to participate. It was really cool to watch from Josef’s live feed, from the NBCSN coverage and from the tweets of those at the race. That my friends is how you grow a sport. That is how you make lifelong fans. I loved it. 

The race was eventually postponed and I went to bed. I was disappointed they would not be racing under the lights but was looking forward to a Sunday afternoon race. 

After church I turned on the TV to find out coverage had been moved to CNBC. I hate it when I miss updates like that. Not a big deal I only missed a couple minutes as the race was still delayed for wet conditions. They did finally get going though and the green flag waved. 

The race started fine and the weepers did not seem to be causing problems. After a pit stop on lap 42 Conor Daly lost control of his car.  Daly’s car crashed into Josef Newgarden’s car and Josef’s car turned on its side before hitting the SAFER barrier. Both drivers were talking to their crews and moving in the cars. Daly exited his car and appeared to be fine. Josef exited his car much more slowly and collapsed after. That was the scariest part. Thankfully the reports from IndyCar are that Josef has injured his shoulder and wrist but is otherwise fine. We have not yet learned the extent of the injuries and what effect it will have on the rest of his season. James Hinchcliffe tweeted that Josef is cracking jokes with the doctors. That is good news. 


The race was about to go back to green on lap 71 but was red flagged when it began raining. The rain came down hard and fast and after the problems they had drying the track the night before few thought they would be able to resume racing. At 5:00 central time IndyCar announced that the race would resume August 27th. It is actually hard to not laugh at that. It is the right move. The teams have testing at Road America on Wednesday so staying in Texas is not an option. The IndyCar schedule is in desperate need of races in August to fill the gaps in the schedule but it still cracks me up that we have to wait nearly two months to find out how the race ends. Has this ever happened before?  IndyCar never ceases to surprise me. First the drivers take to the stands, then we have what I will assume is the longest race in history- starting in June, ending in August. 

So there is the weekend as I saw it. Some might not of appreciated it with the lack of racing but I still enjoyed the coverage. I could have done without the Daly/Newgarden crash but am hopeful we will hear good news about Josef soon and that he will be at the next race. IndyCar is always full of surprises. Can’t wait to learn what the next one is. 

Update- Shortly after I published this post IndyCar released a statement on Josef Newgarden. Josef sustained a fractured right clavicle and a fracture in his right hand. He was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday evening. No word yet on how long he will be out of the car. Ed Carpenter Racing tweeted that JR Hildebrand will be driving the No. 21 car until Josef returns beginning this Wednesday at a test at Road America. 

Josef also posted on Instagram that he can’t wait to get back in the car but just needs some time to heal. 

The Hundreth Running of the Indianapolis 500!

It’s a couple hours after the 500 and I’m still not sure how I’m feeling about Alexander Rossi winning. Before the race I said I didn’t want Montoya, Hunter-Reay or Rossi to win. A friend asked why Rossi. He is only in IndyCar because he lost his Formula One ride. He was not happy with the move and that is why I’m not happy he won. He doesn’t appear to love IndyCar and love the Indy 500 so why should he win. That is why I don’t care for Montoya. He won the 500 and left for NASCAR, only to return after things went bad at NASCAR. Does he really appreciate that IndyCar is the superior form of racing?  Might not pay the same but it is so much better. However, while watching Rossi before he emerged from the car and seeing his emotion over winning I think that perhaps he does get it. If he sticks around in IndyCar I may become a fan but if he leaves first chance he gets I will not be happy. The Indy 500 is an incredible race with a fascinating history. I want all the winners to truly appreciate what winning the 500 means. Carlos Munoz gets it. Josef Newgarden gets it. Both were crushed at coming so close to winning and falling short. Helio Castroneves gets it, he has tasted the milk three times. He is desperate to join the four time winner club. James Hinchcliffe gets it. He nearly lost his life at the Speedway yet returns a year later and puts his car on the pole. The demons he had to overcome to get back in the car, at Indy and go faster than everyone, James showed amazing determination. Hopefully today made Rossi a lifetime IndyCar driver. I want our 500 winners to continue in IndyCar. 

But long before Alexander Rossi took the checkered flag we had 500 miles of an entertaining race. Let’s look at some of that. 

Top Five-

Carlos Munoz- It’s hard to be a fan of Carlos. He does not receive enough attention so as fans we don’t get a chance to know him. When he does it’s hard to understand him. Watching him sit in his car after the race and hearing the emotion during his post race interview will bump him up a notch. Carlos has had incredible finishes at the 500. It’s just a matter of time before he gets his win. I hope Andretti keeps him around. 
Josef Newgarden- He was clearly upset at the end too. Has to be so hard to know you have a car that can win but then not. I can’t even imagine what his career would like like if he was with one of the bigger teams. That said, I hope he stays with Ed Carpenters team. 

Tony Kanaan- Tony also looked like he had a good chance to win. He was all smiles in the interview saying he had a blast racing. 

Charlie Kimball- we didn’t hear much about Charlie during the race but he apparently kept up with the leaders and had a good clean race. He has the talent but can’t quite seem to get that extra boost he needs to have more wins. A top five at Indy is a good finish. 

My Favorites 

James Hinchcliffe- He won the pole and was a contender all day. The twin checkers just needed to wave at the right time and this could have been his race but this is Indy and anything can happen. Hinch finished seventh, he deserved better. 

Stefan Wilson- Stefan had an electrical problem in the car and couldn’t get it out of third gear as I understand it. It ended his day. I was so disappointed because Stefan has gone above and beyond to interact with fans and support his sponsors. He is the driver we want in IndyCar. He (and others like him) is how we grow the sport. I hope he gets more opportunities to drive. Stefan is a family favorite for sure. 

AJ Foyt Racing- They struggled through most of the race. Sato was carving his way up but made contact with the wall. Tagliani led the race before finishing 17th. Not bad considering he started last. Didn’t hear much about Hawksworth. He finished 16th. All in all not the best day for AJ Foyt racing. 

Graham Rahal- since Graham often doesn’t qualify well and then gets a good finish I expected him to do better. He finished 14th. 

Others to Mention

Townsend Bell- He also looked like he had a good chance to win. A problem in the pits ended that chance. He just didn’t have room to maneuver when exiting the pits. He attempted to get in the fast lane but made contact with a car and that sent him into Ryan Hunter-Reay and both had the race win slip from their fingers. Was it Townsend’s fault?  I’m not sure about that yet but when you get 25+ cars in pit lane you have to expect problems. 

Pippa Mann- Only woman in the field. She finished 18th, the first car one lap down.  At one point she was in the top ten and I thought she might have a top 15 finish. Not a bad race for her. 

Oriol Servia- He always impresses. I know he is getting older but why he isn’t in a full time seat I will never understand. Oriol finished 12th. 

Marco Andretti- I really expected to see more of Marco during the race but he seemed to just run mid pack. Another disappointing day for Marco. 

Helio Castroneves- will he ever get the fourth win?  As the years go by it’s not looking good. He had a chance but contact with JR Hildebrand ended that chance. 

Well this is where I wrap it up. There is still more to say but that will be another day. All in all it was a great race with beautiful weather. It was the kind of race that makes new fans. Hopefully the Indianapolis 500 remains on people’s radar for a long time and we continue to celebrate milestones at the Speedway for centuries to come. In the short term I hope the Detroit race draws some extra attention coming of the heels of the 500. So excited for the double header this weekend. 

I Won’t be at The 500 and That’s Okay

After being on the edge of my seat for qualifying- actually that’s not true- I was standing during Hinch’s qualifying run, I’m greatly reconsidering my choice to not attend this this years 500. But than again it wasn’t really a choice, my husband turns 50 on the 27th and we are having a party on the 28th. Steve is not a fan and of course my marriage is more important than attending the 500. Actually I’ve only attend one Indy 500 and that was last year. I enjoyed every minute but I’m okay with watching from home this year and here’s why—

1. As previously stated Steve has no interest in going and he has a pretty big milestone to celebrate. We have a family night planned for Friday which is his actually birthday. I really tried to convince him that Curt Cavin’s Carb Night Burger Bash would be a great way to celebrate but he wasn’t going for it. I also thought the perfect way to celebrate a 50th birthday is to attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 but again no interest. Saturday we have a party planned and then on Sunday he will watch the start of the race with me. 

2. I really don’t like big crowds.  I can’t even imagine what the race will be like this year with so many people there. I’m thankful to not have to worry about that. 

3. Weather won’t be a problem for me. Of course I will be disappointed if it rains but I always love the interviews and special segments that run during a rain delay. The temperature won’t be an issue for me either. Last year it was a beautiful day but man did it feel hot sitting in the stands. The boys were complaining and we left our seats to look for shade and eventually dipped our toes in the fountain. I had no clue hat was happening on the track. I won’t have to worry about those interruptions in my air conditioned house. 

4. No lines for the bathroom or snacks. Sure I will miss the tenderloin sandwich but I will have my favorite snacks and beverages prepared. Oh and I won’t have to carry all my things for miles from the car to my seat. 

5. Tradition!  My tradition, except last year, is to watch the race on TV. I live in the Chicago area so I can watch live. I watched the 1985 race with my dad in the front room of my childhood home. Dad and I continued to watch the races together and if we weren’t together we would call each other many times during the race. My dad has been gone since 2007 but he is always on my mind on race day. Dad took me to Pole Day at IMS in 1993. We had such a fun weekend and now I take my boys. The Indy 500 is all about tradition. My traditions might be a bit different from those in the Hoosier state but the are special to me.  I have a front row seat for all the action from my couch. I don’t miss a thing and if I do I can rewind. Steve and the boys watch the beginning and then check in during the race. I make a taco dip and enjoy more of it than I should. In recent years I keep an eye on Twitter to share my thoughts and hear others. I thoroughly enjoy my Indy 500 tradition. 
So yes in a perfect world I would be in attendance for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I would hear the engines and smell the burnt rubber but watching at home won’t lessen my excitement. It’s still the 100th running and it will be epic from whichever seat you have.  To my friends there, tweet lots of pictures and enjoy every minute. To those watching on TV, keep tweeting and enjoy every minute. I CAN NOT WAIT!!!