2017 IndyCar Season Wrap-up

Well once again the IndyCar season did not disappoint. Although it did go by way too fast. Here is what I will remember from the 2017 season. 

Racing highlights- 

  • Penske and Chevy were dominate. Not much different from other seasons. 
  • Josef started strong and just kept going. Winning in his first season with Penske was impressive. Winning the Championship was amazing. No one really saw that coming- not in his first season. He is such a talented young driver.  
  • Stefan Wilson gave up his ride for Fernando Alonso. Professionally it might not have been his best decision, time will tell, but it was an incredibly selfless gesture and I’m very hopeful that IndyCar will honor that selfless act by making sure he is in a great ride for the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Stefan Wilson is a class act and as good as they come. Justin would be so proud. 
  • Helio won at Iowa and fans might have seen his last fence climb in IndyCar. 
  • Sebastian Bourdais had a horrible crash at Indianapolis, many feared he wouldn’t race again. He returned at the end of the season racing at Gateway, Watkins Glen and Sonoma. 
  • Scott Dixon walked away from a horrific crash during the Indy500. 
  • Takuma Sato won the Indy 500. It was a popular win and the first time a Japanese man has won. 
  • The championship went down to the last race with four strong contenders and others still mathematically able to win. It was Josef Newgarden who won the honor. 

My Race Highlights-

  • I met Arie Luyendyk on Mothers Day at the IMS museum. He helped me with a trivia contest I was working on from George Phillips at oilpressure.com
  • Curt Cavin now recognizes me and was kind enough to offer me a garage pass the day of the GP of Indy. 
  • Spent time at the races with my IndyCar friends.  I always love meeting up with my friends at races. This year I saw Mike Silver at every event I attended. The same can be said of my friend Lisa. Lisa and I also went out for several meals before or after races. Thanks to Mark and his big blue tarp we had a great place to watch the GP of Indy again this year. Always fun to see Mike Knapp- my oldest racing/Twitter friend. He had the honor of working with Buddy Lazier’s team at the 500. 
  • My good friend, Kristen, attended the Iowa race with me after not attending a race the two previous seasons. 
  • Saw Helio climb the fence at Iowa. 
  • Met many drivers including once again meeting Stefan Wilson. He needs a full time ride!

Silly Season-

Many things have already been decided. Some have been announced some are still in the works but there is a general consensus as to how the 2018 season will look. Here are a few that stick out to me. 

  • Tony Kanaan is expected to sign with AJ Foyt racing. Not everyone thinks this is the best idea but I love it. I think TK can help the team and I want TK to continue in IndyCar. It’s a win win. Many say that if he signs with AJ he will be gone after he drives for them. Well duh- he is 42. If he signs a two year contract which is what we are hearing he will most likely be retiring no matter who he drove for. Drivers don’t usually keep driving into their 40’s. Let’s just enjoy the time we have and if TK can offer valuable insights and advice to AJ’s team then that is great. Oh and did I mention that AJ and TK are my two favorites. I love these guys and think they will make an amazing team. Larry Foyt get ready because I’m expecting good things from your team. 
  • New teams. I’m excited about the new teams looking to join IndyCar. 
  • Ganassi moving to a two car team. That is going to mix things up a bit. 
  • No official word on Helio but sounds like he is moving to sports cars. 

All in all it was such a fun season and I’m already missing it terribly. The day after the Indy 500 is always so depressing but just a few days after the 500 we have a double header in Detroit to look forward to. The end of the season doesn’t offer as much. Thankfully we still need a few pieces from silly season to fall into place.  I’m also a huge fan of Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. I can get a small IndyCar fix listening to their podcast every week. 

    I will occasionally blog during the off season but will be back at it in March. Thanks to all who read.  I really enjoy sharing my thoughts here and appreciate those who take the time to read it. 


    IndyCar returns to Gateway Motorsports Park

    I honestly have so much I want to share from our weekend at Gateway I’m not even sure where to start. As soon as I heard Gateway was on the schedule I made plans in my head to attend. I’ve always tried to support new venues and especially those close to home. I’m in the Chicago suburbs so St Louis isn’t too far. Plans came along and we were able to attend. My boys and my cousin attended with me. 


    Besides attending the race there is lots to do in StLouis. We arrived to town on Friday which was my cousin Randy’s birthday. One of his favorite restaurants is the Spaghetti Factory so we began our night there and walked to the Gateway Arch after. The boys were impressed and couldn’t wait for a chance to go up in it- they would have to wait until Sunday. We arrived at our hotel late but fortunately with the race on Saturday being a night race we had time Saturday morning to play. The boys went for a swim before we met some IndyCar friends for lunch. We walked through a farmers market before meeting at Bogarts Smokehouse for lunch.  Several people at the farmers market noticed our IndyCar gear and mentioned that they were going or wished they could attend the race. One of the owners at Bogart’s came and talked with us saying Fuzzy Zoeller had been in earlier and gave him a bottle of vodka which he then brought out to show us. The entire city was definitely behind this race. I had more people notice my shirt or ask about the race than any other race weekend- including those in Indianapolis.  There was a ton of excitement about the race. 

    Sunday morning we visited the top of the Gateway Arch. We could see the track from the top and continued to have people ask us about the race. The boys were a bit freaked out by the size of the capsule that takes you to the top but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. All in all a fun weekend and I haven’t even got to the race portion of our trip. 

    But let’s talk about the race. I want to break it down to the event in whole, the race and improvements that need to be made. 

    EVENT- our experiences

    • Boys were free since we chose general admission tickets. That gave us the perfect excuse to buy Paddock passes which always make a race more fun. 
    • We saw several drivers and after dragging Helio Castroneves’s book to several races I finally was able to get it autographed. I was stationed outside the Penske trailer having seen Helio go inside. Simon Pagenaud came by and I asked if he would sign Helio’s book because I had not yet been able to get Helio to sign it. I half jokingly asked if he could please send Helio out. Simon responded he would. Sure enough Helio came out shortly and signed my book. He signed very few other autographs while I pulled out my phone for a quick selfie and then he went right back into the trailer. Hmm? Did Simon really tell Helio to come out? Maybe, maybe not, but I like to think he did. 
    • Ran into lots of friends from Twitter.  I enjoy running into Twitter friends just as much as I do the drivers. 
    • Also saw Curt Cavin- who I see enough that he recognizes me. 
    • Met Doug Boles.  
    • Talked with Larry Foyt and told him I thought he should keep Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz on the team next year because of course he would be seeking out my opinion. Lol
    • Boys met Roger Penske. Zach got an autograph and Matthew took a selfie with him. Seriously the selfie is my favorite picture from the weekend. 
    • We sat in row 25 in section 15 (near turn one) for the race. We sat with Lisa, DZ and Kyle so it was fun to be with friends who are fans and understand what is going on. 
    • Zach enjoyed the beginning and end of the race but chose to play on his phone for a big portion of the race. Matthew was a bit more engaged in the racing but still not as excited about racing as his mom. 


    • So excited for a night race
    • The cars engines started before the command. Not a big deal but very noticeable at the track. It was much less obvious on tv. 
    • Awesome three-wide parade lap. Very cool to see the cars three wide under the lights. 
    • Tony Kanaan spun and hit the wall before the green flag fell. The race started under yellow then Will Power, Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato spun and crashed in turn two just after the green flag was waved.
    • Once the race did get going it was fun to watch but not overly exciting. I haven’t watched the tv broadcast and at the track I could enjoy the view but there wasn’t much passing up front.
    • Helio did take over the lead but then had a bad pit stop and fell back to fourth. 
    • Pagenaud leapfrogged to first during a pit stop under yellow but Josef Newgarden made a bold move that gave him the lead back and he eventually took the checkered flag. Some say it was too bold and even a dangerous move. Pagenaud himself was quite upset and said he lost all respect for Josef. I talked with some strong Pagenaud fans and reminded them of a similar move Pagenaud made on Power. Their response was that when Pagenaud made that move against Power it was on a road course when bumping is not as dangerous and that Josef is damn lucky he didn’t send Pagenaud into the wall or worse. I will admit that got me thinking and I definitely see their point. I don’t pretend to know enough about what is safe and what isn’t to argue either way. It’s racing and you have to make bold moves to do it. Time will tell if Josef is bold or stupid.  He’s been around enough years that I think most agree he is bold but safe. If we see more questionable moves in the future that might change but I think he is respected as a driver and that Pagenaud will come to see that it was just racing. 
    • Chip Ganassi parked TK later in the race. Ok this was interesting. Chip did the same to Max Chilton at Pocono but with Max being a younger driver and down laps it wasn’t as controversial but parking TK when he was able to race along side the others is ridiculous. TK was down two laps but he was not falling farther behind, he just hadn’t been able to make up the two laps he lost from his pre race crash. There is speculation that Chip’s team will be a one car team next year. I can’t imagine that. I have to believe they will have at least two cars. It was a rather shocking decision though. 


    • The track and weather was beautiful. Such a fun weekend.  The racing could have been better but hopefully the new car next year will change that. 
    • We purchased a Paddock pass for Saturday. The Paddock opened at 3:00 but we could not get our wristband or sign the waiver until it opened so we were waiting in the hot sun for over 30 minutes to get that done. I don’t understand why we couldn’t sign and pick up wristband earlier knowing we would have to wait until 3:00 to enter. 
    • Because I was more interested in seeing drivers and friends we didn’t eat before the race. When we were ready to eat the lines were way too long to wait. I figured once the race started I would send Matthew to get us something. The lines were still too long. Half way through the race Randy went to purchase food. He was gone for at least 45 minutes to buy corn dogs and nachos. The track needs to work on concessions for next year. 
    • After the race and great fireworks show everyone was tired and wanted to leave. I begged them to stay and watch the post race interviews because I knew the parking lot would be nuts but they all insisted they were tired. The parking lot was worse than I imagined. We pulled out about five feet and then didn’t move an inch for almost an hour. Once we did get moving it took about 20-25 more minutes to completely exit. 
    • I think every complaint was about lines being too long, there could be much worse things but the lines were annoying. 
    • End on a positive note- I can’t say enough what a great job the Bommarito group and Gateway  Motorsports Park did to promote the event. I’ve never seen such a great crowd for an oval outside of Indy. Job well done. 

    We just learned this morning before my posting that Andretti Autosport will be staying with Honda. They announced it in the best way!  Watch it here!

    I’m very pleased with this decision.  

      What Kind of Fan are You?

      A couple years ago my friend Kristen and I wrote a Post about the difference between being a super fan and a casual fan of the IndyCar series. Kristen did not attend another race with me until we went to Iowa this summer.  We were joined by Lisa who is a huge IndyCar fan. We found a couple more things that separate the diehard fans from the casual ones. Many had us laughing so hard, things Lisa and I see as completely normal Kristen finds rather strange and vice versa. So here is what we learned this year.

      1. A super fan will wake up long before the sun rises to hit the road in order to attend a race weekend. It makes no sense to go to a race and not watch every practice and qualifying session. A casual fan would rather attend her sons ballgame and leave after that even if that means missing qualifying.

      2. A super fan refers to the drivers by their first name and acts like they actually know the driver (we feel like we do).  The casual fan often has no clue who the super fan is talking about because sport figures usually go by their last names and the casual fan is trying to figure out who the heck Tony, Charlie and Scott are.

      3. When hanging out at the hotel pool after a hot day at a speedway a casual fan might be tempted to yell out “Polo” to a popular game kids are playing in the pool. A super fan will have a completely different answer and yell out “Andretti”.

      4. A super fan knows the drivers birthdays and will often tweet birthday wishes. While discussing this at dinner Kristen couldn’t believe how many of the drivers birthdays Lisa and I knew without looking them up. Okay I will admit we didn’t always remember the exact date but between the two of us we knew the Month for many.

      5. A super fan won’t go to just any restaurant while attending a race weekend but will tweet other IndyCar fans or even Curt Cavin because they know that Curt suggested a burger place years ago and they need to check it out. A casual fan will find something close and easy because they are tired after a day at the track.

      6. A super fan gets all geeked out when her blog is mentioned by the king of IndyCar bloggers- George Phillip of Oilpressureblog.com. A casual fan is shocked that there is more than one person blogging about IndyCar.

      7. A super fan has her own scanner and regularly checks in with Debbie who works for Racing Elecronics to make sure she is good to go before the green flag. A casual fan hopefully remembers to bring ear protection. I will admit it’s Lisa that has a scanner. I usually follow along on my Verizon app and listen to IndyCar Radio. 

      8. A super fan knows and recognizes the radio announcers. A casual fan scratches her head wondering how you know what the radio announcers look like.

      9. A super fan will rearrange the IndyCar magnets on her car putting the driver with the most points in first. A casual fan sadly does not have any IndyCar bumper stickers or magnets on her car.

      10. Perhaps our favorite and the one we laughed over the most. A super fan follows the drivers pet dogs on Twitter.  During the Iowa weekend Norman Pagenaud tweeted reminding us to vote for Simon for the ESPY’s.  Kristen could not stop laughing when I showed her the tweet. She laughed even harder when she learned he wasn’t the only dog I follow. Chevy Clausen is another sweet pup I follow. The best part was it didn’t even dawn on me that she would find it funny or weird that I follow dogs on twitter- don’t we all?  When we told Lisa she said she also followed Norman and of course had voted for Simon.

      So are we diehard fans or crazy- perhaps a bit a both?  Regardless, we all had a blast at the Iowa race. Kristen continues learning about IndyCar and Lisa and I were given the enjoyable task of sharing our passion her. We met fans from all categories at the track. Some like Lisa and I were already big fans, some were season pass holders and preferred NASCAR, some were just starting to follow IndyCar. We even met two young men from Australia who decided to come to America and watch as much racing as they could. They had been to several dirt tracks and were pretty excited to be watching the IndyCars at Iowa. That is a passion for racing!

      Finally catching up on Iowa

      George Phillips recently wrote a Blog Post and graciously mentioned my sleepy little blog. That was just the kick I needed to get me to my iPad to catch up on a couple posts I’ve been wanting to write. One of the benefits of being a blogger is there are no deadlines to get articles out. That same benefit can also be a drawback as it makes it easy to push things off until tomorrow. I enjoy blogging and I especially enjoy sharing thoughts with the friends I’ve made through Twitter and IKissed The Bricks so hopefully I won’t be too much of a procrastinator in the future. 

      Iowa- I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa race with two girlfriends. My long time friend, Kristen, hasn’t attended a race since the 2014 Milwaukee race. We were glad we could finally find a race weekend that worked for us.  Kristen is not a big IndyCar fan but does enjoy attending the races. We met up with my Twitter friend, Lisa, and had a wonderful time at the race. 

      Kristen and I arrived at Iowa Speedway shortly before qualifying on Saturday afternoon. We bought tickets for qualifying at the gate because they charged a service fee online- well they charged the same service fee at the gate so that was disappointing. I really don’t understand, just say the tickets cost $20. Kinda frustrating. Then we learned that the Fan Walk is not included in the ticket price and that would be an additional $10. It was actually quite confusing. An entrance ticket is needed to access the Fan Walk- we had that. You can access the Fan Walk for free before the stands open but once the stands open you need an additional band to access the Fan Walk. So while it sounds like the Fan Walk is open to anyone with a ticket it actually isn’t with the exception of those who arrive before the stands open. From what we could see the Fan Walk just allowed you to walk a small portion of the infield behind the pit wall. We just didn’t feel it was worth the extra money. There was an additional charge for a Paddock pass. I do believe if you spent the $30 for the Paddock pass you could also access the Fan Walk. Oh well surely we can find plenty to occupy our time. Well not really. Saturday afternoon had only a few booths set up. We went to the Firestone tent thinking we would be silly and get an airbrush tattoo but on Saturday they only offered rub on tattoos. Very little to see or do in the tents. Qualifying was fun though. It was a warm day but we caught up with Mike Silver and watch qualifying. It was actually quite exciting as each car bumped the last one off the pole. Many were surprising but as Will Power was one of the last to go out it ended up not being a big surprise in the end. Will Power won the pole position and I frowned saying I’ve seen this race before. Seems Power has a way of winning the pole at many of the races I attend. Oh well fingers crossed we will see someone other than the pole winner win the race on Sunday. 

      Kristen and I got a fantastic deal on our hotel, unfortunately it was nearly an hour from the track. We headed to our hotel and met up with Lisa for dinner. We enjoyed a fantastic BBQ meal at Wobbly Boots and enjoyed a fun girls night out. When we returned to the hotel the pool was overrun with a baseball team so we skipped the pool. 

      Race Day- Arrived at the track at noon. We met Lisa and thankfully had more options and tents to visit on race day. We planned to enjoy an ear of corn but the complimentary corn was gone in less than ten minutes. Another disappointment- it’s called the Iowa Corn 300. Chevy was providing free corn from noon- two o clock and they were out of corn in less than ten minutes- they didn’t plan that one well. Firestone was also out of some of their freebies. They did have the airbrush tattoos though. We didn’t want to wait in line though so we passed. We bought some souvenirs, watched the Lights race, enjoyed a beer with Mike and eventually made it to our seats for the race. The crowd was okay but I know the crowds were much bigger when the race was a Saturday night race. We would have preferred that too. 

      I still haven’t watched the tv broadcast of the race and it was especially hard to follow on such a small track. The leaders flew by and were mixed into traffic.  So rather than go through the whole race I will touch on the two things that stuck out to me. The red flag and Helio winning. 

      Red Flag– It was so hot in the stands and I kept an eye on the sky hoping for a stray cloud to block the sun. Even before the clouds rolled in we felt a couple rain drops. Nothing significant and I was honestly surprised when they threw the yellow flag. I couldn’t imagine there was enough moisture to warrant a yellow. However, as they continued running under yellow and laps were ticking away as clouds built I wondered how his would play out. The radar looked like we could get a significant amount of rain but before it made it to the track it dissapaited. So did we need the red?  No not for safety I don’t believe we did. However, it was the wise decision because way too many laps would have been run under yellow had the red flag not been thrown. I rather the cars stop and wait to then they can really race once the threat has passed. I support the decision for the red flag. It might not have shown well on TV but from where I was sitting and watching the radar I think it was the right decision and once the threat passed we went right back to racing. 

      Helio wins- In all the races I’ve attended I only saw Helio win once at Chicagoland. Kristen and I left that race believing Scott Dixon won and didn’t learn until we watched the news at night that Helio had actuwon so we missed seeing him climb the fence. There has been a lot of talk recently that Helio might be racing sports cars next year and no longer participating in I dyCar full time. I’m so grateful we were able to see him climb the fence. I’m also thankful that if this is his last year he was able to get another win before leaving. All that said, Helio is second in points, a race winner and pole winner- he needs to be in IndyCar again next year. 

      We lingered in the stands and watched the victory celebration before saying goodbye to Lisa and driving to the hotel. Kristen and I enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal and finally got to swim in the pool. Helio was Kristen’s pick to win the race so she won the bragging rights and hopefully will continue to attend more races in the future. She doesn’t always understand my passion for IndyCar but I will discuss that more in my next post. 

      Still trying to figure out Texas!

      As many of you know we are currently on vacation. We traveled to Phoenix, visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park before flying home from Vegas. We are staying in a rental home near Zion but unfortunately they did not have NBCSN as part of their cable package. I watched on my NBCSN app but at least three times it completely froze up and I had to restart it which took forever. I was also watching from my iPad so not my preferred way to watch. However, I was able to watch so I’m thankful because I never would have believed that race if I had not seen it. I’m still shaking my head over it. 

      So you all know what happened so I will just give my two cents on a couple of things and you can let me know if you agree or disagree. One thing I know we can all agree on-Texas is always interesting. 

      Tristan Vautier- wow!  Tristan qualified well (5th) and was so fun to watch race. He led laps and held his own With the full time drivers. I’m so glad he was able to fill in for Bourdais and hope we see more of him. Unfortunately, he was caught up in “the big one” and that ended his day. Dale Coyne Racing didn’t need that accident which took out both their cars but they are super impressive.  I can’t understand why sponsors aren’t calling them begging to be on their cars. Love this team. 

      Helio Castroneves- Helio hit the wall but it didn’t look too bad to me. A hard hit of course but like most others. Then it took a long time for him to get out of the car. He was fine, checked and cleared by medical and tweeting later in the race from his hotel but I think that was a bigger impact than most. 

      Ryan Hunter-Reay- RHR was also caught up in “the big one”. He was fine but in his post crash interview he said too many inexperienced drivers were making stupid moves and he couldn’t trust them enough to pass them. WHO IS HE TALKING ABOUT?  I know I don’t see all that is going on and don’t understand all the intricacies of racing but i didn’t see anything out of the norm. Who had him freaked out?  

      The Big One- Around lap 150 Tony Kanaan (inside), James Hinchcliffe (middle) and Mikhail Aleshin (outside) were three wide. TK went high giving Hinchcliffe no where to go with Mikhail on his outside.  Hinchcliffe ping ponged between the two cars before spinning taking many others with him- both Coyne Cars, RHR, Aleshin, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Carlos Munoz and perhaps others I’m forgetting. Twitter immediately exploded placing blame- Hinchcliffe caused it, no Aleshin he was the last to join the three wide he should have backed out and TK was blamed too for not holding a lower line. There was so much carnage that a red flag was thrown- that was the right call. Dale Coyne immediately went down to the cars on pit lane and began yelling at Tony Kanaan. I understand he was upset. Twitter and the broadcast kept rehashing who was at fault. Chip Ganassi when asked if TK was at fault defended his driver. That drove Twitter even more nuts. I honestly thought Chip had a fine response. You don’t want to incriminate your driver especially at that time when the accident was still under review. However, Chip did not need to throw Hinchcliffe under the bus saying Hinchcliffe has been trying to get in an accident all race.  When Hinchcliffe was told of Chips comments Hinchcliffe replied, “that’s adorable”. I think IndyCar fans will be using that term for years to come. Hinchcliffe was much more kind saying he is sure TK did not do that on purpose and in post race interviews TK apologized and said of course he never means to take anyone out. Wow! A lot of drama over a race accident. Cmon people it was Tony Kanaan. He’s been racing in IndyCar for 20 years. He was racing and you have to go for it when racing or else there is no point in being there. He obviously did not get info from his spotters or did not understand that he had two cars on the outside. Yes I think Tony caused the accident and perhaps he deserved the penalty- he had to stop in his pit box for 20 seconds but he didn’t do it on purpose and we all know he doesn’t race reckless. As I said a lot of drama. 

      Mandatory cautions- Seriously what in the world is this? Sometime after the accident or during the red flag Firestone and Race Control decided that because the tires were blistering and were possibly unsafe there would be a mandatory caution after every 30 laps of green flag racing. Okay I don’t always agree with calls that IndyCar makes but this one was ridiculous. I want the drivers to be safe. I don’t want to push things when we know we have unsafe conditions but there is a much easier way to solve this– change your tires within thirty laps or be penalized.  How is this different than needing gas. There is no caution because the cars will eventually run out of gas- the teams and drivers just know they need to come in and do so under green flag conditions. They could have pit to change tires and done so when they wanted as long as it was within a thirty lap window. Why? Why did it have to be under a caution?  I will never understand that or agree with it. Hopefully Curt and Kevin can offer some insight but I think it was ridiculous. So the cautions came out and there was still some confusion about them and everyone was required to stop but somehow through other yellows I suppose TK was able to get back on the lead lap.  I think the stupid mandatory cautions actually ended up helping him make up the penalty he was given Hmm? Such a weird race. 

      Last yellow- With just a few more laps and only a handful of cars on track- 11 I believe, we had one more accident. Sato went into the grass and ended up losing control and taking himself and another car or two out with him. I honestly don’t remember who all was caught up in it but I thought to myself that we only had a couple laps left so surely they will throw the red flag so we can finish under green flag conditions. I don’t necessarily agree with a red flag towards the end of the race but it seems to be the new norm and Will Power was leading and I was hoping Tony Kanaan would win so I guess I was hoping/ expecting the red flag. It never came and the race ended under yellow. Will Power won and Tony Kanaan finished second. Everything I expected to happen did not and things I never thought would happen did. It was just a weird race. I’m sure it’s one we will be talking about for a long time. 

      Overall I enjoyed it. I like good fast racing and we saw that. I do like some unpredictability although this might have been a bit too much. I do like accidents and engine failures because it mixes things up. No not misunderstand- I never want to see drivers hurt and realize it is expensive for the teams and exhausting for the crews when accidents happen but it also greatly changes the course of the race and I enjoy that part. However, I don’t like a manufactured race and the cautions went too far. I hope we never see them again. I also would have preferred more cars still racing at the end. It was really a wild night. What were your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?  Guess we will have two weeks to debate about it as IndyCar has a week off before Road America. 

      Summer vacation 2017 – Grand Canyon Bryce National Park

      Just a small break from my IndyCar blog so I can journal about our vacation. It’s mostly a photo journal with brief descriptions of our day. 

      Monday morning we flew to Phoenix to begin our vacation. We met my cousin, Jeff and his daughter Maddie, at the airport. I haven’t seen Jeff in nearly thirty years. We had lunch and it was great to catch up a bit. We needed more time but I’m thankful for the time we did have. 

      After lunch we drove to Flagstaff. We spent the night there.

      Tuesday Morning- Woke up, enjoyed free breakfast at hotel and then drove to the Grand Canyon. Steve and I had been before but Zach and Matthew were amazed by how large it is. I had more fun watching Zach’s expression than the Canyon when we first arrived. We took pictures, walked along the rim and finally got the boys to walk back to the car for sunscreen and a snack.

        We then planned our day and decided on a hike. Zach was desperate to go down into the canyon. We told him we didn’t have time for that but we could venture down a bit for a different viewpoint. We walked down for about an hour- longer back up of course. I’m glad we did it and we all were wishing we did have more time so we could have gone even farther. 

      We found some lunch for the boys. Steve and I had packed a lunch for us and we rested from the hike. Then we drove to a couple more lookouts before driving to Marble Canyon for the night. 

      Once we arrived at Marble Canyon Lodge all I heard were complaints. I had warned everyone it was a small motel but when they learned there was no pool and even worse no internet they were not happy. The motel was just a block from the Colorado river and there were Condors nesting nearby so I thought it was perfect. It had a restaurant so we were good. We drove to the river and walked the bridge and spotted the Condors. Some women had spotting scopes set up and you could view the nest but the baby was under the parent at the time. 

      We had grabbed a bite on the road so after our walk the boys and I stopped at the restaurant for ice cream for them and a glass of wine for me. 

      Wednesday- I woke up early and walked to grab a coffee and then to the river. The Condors were in the same place as last night. Steve went for a run and we packed up to head to Bryce Canyon. 

      On the drive we were following a river and I told Steve it reminded my of the Sevier river which we followed on our last trip out west. Sure enough it was. It surprised me when I saw the sign. We were quite far from where we drove on our previous trip. 

      We arrived at Bryce and enjoyed the park for a couple hours before checking into our hotel. The boys were happy because we once again had a pool and wifi. 

      The boys and Steve went for a swim and I relaxed in the room. We had dinner at a diner. Burgers and chicken sandwiches before heading back into the park for sunset. 

      Thursday- We got started a bit later than we planned. We hiked the Queen’s/ Navajo combination loop with a 600 foot elevation change. I was worried about going back up but the switchbacks were actually fairly easy and I was much happier going up than down there because the gravel was quite loose. We definitely picked the right direction. The views were amazing. 

      After our hike we returned to the hotel for lunch and to rest before venturing on another hike. 

      We chose an easier hike for the afternoon.  It follows a creek and ends at a waterfall and a mossy cave. Steve and the boys ventured passed the waterfall but I sat at the waterfall and waited for them. Unfortunately their were small black flies that flew in my face and they were very annoying. The boys could have played by the water all day. They loved hopping over the small river and finding new trails. The river is there because in 1890 the settlers hand dug a 10 mile canal to divert water from the Sevier River to the town ensuring a steady water supply. 

      We had dinner at the buffet at our hotel. It was good. After dinner we took a short drive to see the end of the sunset. The sky was just beautiful. We also put the boys in jail at the small stores across the street. 

      2017 Indianapolis 500

      This years race did not disappoint, I was on the edge of my seat and there are many story lines to write about. Let’s start at the beginning. 

      Pre- Race Show- I stated in my previous post that one thing we knew about the Indianapolis 500 was that while ABC doesn’t always do a good job covering the race they do put on a good pre-race show. Well I guess I was wrong. It was okay but not what I was expecting.  They didn’t cover the singing of God Bless America, which is a race tradition and I heard was wonderfully sung. Then they had a fun driver introduction piece that I would have really enjoyed if it didn’t take the place of the actual driver introductions. I enjoy watching those live. Very disappointing. At one point I wasn’t even sure they were going to cover the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana.  Thankfully they did and it was amazing. Jim Cornelison is the perfect replacement for Jim Nabors and I hope to see him back for many years to come. From his tweets I think he feels the same way and would like to continue singing it each May. Then Tony George comes out to give the command to start engines. Good! Mary Hulman-George struggled last year and Tony is a good replacement. Well he should have been but then he messed it all up. Cmon Tony it’s easy- Lady and Gentleman, Start your engines!  For whatever reason Tony said, “Drivers, Start your engines.”  WRONG. Just a little thing but so incredibly disappointing.  Hopefully it is remedied next year. 

      Green Flag- The race had a beautiful start. Nice rows and everyone made it through turn one without incident and continued for the first quarter of the race. However, just when you began to wonder how long could this go on the craziest accident I’ve ever seen happened. Jay Howard got loose and hit the wall. Scott Dixon had no where to go as Howard’s car drifted in front of his.  Dixon’s car went airborne, flew over Helio Castroneves car and hit the fencing and wall tearing Dixon’s car into too many pieces to count. I really feel this was one of the worst crashes I’ve seen and yet miraculously Scott Dixon walked away.  I had heard that he was originally cleared but returned to the medical center to get a walking boot. Still not sure how his foot is doing. Apparently Emma tweeted a picture saying fractured but I haven’t heard any confirmation. I’m assuming Dixon will be driving at Detroit. 

      As the saying goes- Yellow breeds yellow. There was no shortage of them for the remainder of the race.  I believe 50 laps were ran under yellow.  Some of those were due to the Honda engine failures. The Honda teams were given a choice if they would like more power, However the extra power might mean less reliable engines. It was a chance teams were willing to take. Unfortunately, three drivers were the victims of engine failure. Charlie Kimball, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Fernando Alonso all experienced engine failure. 

      At the end it came down to Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato. I cheered when Helio took the lead- we could see history made when Helio became the next four time winner but I might have cheered even louder when Takuma took and kept the lead. Takuma came so close to winning in 2012 and I’ve always been a fan. It was awesome watching him win the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Congratulations Takuma. 

      So that just leaves- 

      Rookie of the Year- ROY honors went to Fernando Alonso but I felt Ed Jones should have been given the honor. I understand that it doesn’t matter how much racing experience you have and that it’s all about it being your rookie year at Indy but I’m much more impressed by Ed’s accomplishments than World Champion Alonso. Ed was also racing for a smaller team so I feel his accomplishments are greater. And personally because Ed is full time I want him to receive the honor. I understand why Alonso was awarded the honor and he is definitely the more popular name but if I had a vote it would have been for Ed Jones without a doubt. 

      Final Thoughts– It was a super entertaining 500. 

      ABC needs to go. I sure hope NBC takes over coverage for the whole season.

       I’d still like to see Helio win his fourth 500.

      I’m already counting the days till next May. Thank goodness for a double header in Detroit to give us something to look forward to.