George Michael

I apologize to my IndyCar readers. The blog will return to business as normal as soon as the season starts back up but I am also a huge George Michael fan and needed to share some thoughts.

George Michael has been speaking to me since the very beginning. I really enjoyed Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go but it was Everything She Wants that made me a huge fan. Oh and the fact the the man is gorgeous and has a voice like an angel.

Cuddle up baby, move in tight. We’ll go dancing tomorrow night.”- Wake me up Before You Go-Go. 

     “Somebody told me for Everything She Wants is everything she sees.”

Pam and I were riding in the back of my parents car. We convinced them to let us listen to the radio and Everything She Wants came on. I asked my sister who sang it and she couldn’t remember. One minute later George answered when they say Wham! in the song. It made me laugh that the song answered my question and it was at that moment I became I lifelong fan oh and the fact that George is gorgeous- did I mention that?


Christmas 1985 I received Wham! The Video and everyday of Christmas break Pam, Cindi, Pat, Dave and I would dance to the videos and do our best to reenact them. We had such fun.

After that my obsession with anything Wham! just grew. Soon my entire room was filled with posters, I had books and magazines about them and my friends would call if Wham! was on the radio so I never missed a song.

In 1986 I cried when I learned that Wham! broke up.

Fortunately, George went on to have an amazing solo career, Andy also released an album as did Deon Estus, the bass player for Wham! and Pepsi and Shirley the back up singers. I still have their tapes.  It was George’s career though that I followed most closely and his songs that spoke to me.

      “Tonight the music seems so loud, I wish that we could lose this crowd. Maybe it’s better this way we’d hurt each other with the things we want to say.”- Careless Whisper

      “If you are the desert I’ll be the sea. If you ever hunger, hunger for me. Whatever you ask for that’s what I’ll be. So when you remember the ones who have lied who said that they cared but then laughed as I cried, beautiful darling don’t think of me.”– Father Figure

     “Take me back in time maybe I can forget. Turn a Different Corner and we never would have met. Would you care?”- A Different Corner

In 1988 I saw George in concert. It was his Faith tour. I went with Pam, Cindi and Deanna. The minute we walked through the turnstile I was crying. I was about to see George Michael perform and I couldn’t wait and he did not disappoint. I teared up again during Father Figure.  I spent way to much money on shirts and concert books. It’s safe to say I became an even bigger fan. Pam was able to sneak in her camera and we got a couple pictures.

In 1991 Listen Without Prejudice was released. This album was so completely different than Faith and not at all what I expected but after just a few times listening to it I came to love it even more than Faith. Talk about songs that speak to me.


     “Something in me needs this pain, I know I’ll never see your face again.”Waiting for That Day

     ” Whenever you want me you know that I will be waiting for the day that you say you’ll be mine.” – Heal The Pain

As the years went on George continued to write songs although not as often. It didn’t matter though I remained a huge fan and never tired of listening to his songs. In 2008 George again did a concert tour in the U.S.  I bought four tickets the minute I could and again was thrilled by George Michael. He performed many songs but hearing I’m Your Man live was the highlight for me.

“Call me good, call me bad, call me anything you want to baby. Because I know that your sad and I know I’ll make you happy with the one thing that you never had. Baby, I’m Your Man. 

It’s not unusual for me to have a private George Michael concert in my living room. I put on a DVD and watch, listen and dance to all my favorites. I just had one of these concerts on December 23rd. The boys were outside shoveling but the music was so loud they came to investigate and laughed when they saw me dancing to I’m Your Man.


I’m Your Man was the song I put on immediately after learning George had passed and the song that never brings tears to my eyes had me bawling within seconds. Christmas evening while in the middle of making dinner I took a time out for a short concert and to say goodbye to the man who always knew just what to say when I needed to hear it. He has a song for every occasion in my life and all I have ever had to do was get in my car and pick the song for my mood and I would feel better or at least feel that someone understood even if the man that understood had never met me. His songs touched me and that was all that mattered.

So I’ll close with George’s own words. As I said, a song for every occasion.

 

“Say goodbye don’t tell me why you had to go….

And now you’ve gone away and left me crying like a baby. ” 

Alexander Rossi

When rumors first began that Alexander Rossi might not be returning to F1 but instead coming to IndyCar I was not thrilled. Rossi himself did not appear thrilled. He was quite public saying he was looking for a seat in Formula One and that IndyCar would be an option only if Formula One did not work out. Well as we know Rossi signed with Bryan Herat/ Andretti Autosport for the 2016 season driving the No. 98 car. I was so disappointed. There are so many talented drivers who would do anything to drive an IndyCar and Rossi gets a great deal with a great team and doesn’t seem to appreciate it. 

If you know anything about me you know I love IndyCar because of the drivers. They are the heart and soul of racing in my book and I will defend them to the end but I was having a tough time with Alexander. As the Indianapolis 500 approached I had thirty drivers I wanted to win. Some more than others but I would have been happy with 30 different outcomes. Juan Pablo Montoya was not on my list. JPM has just never been a favorite and he had just won in 2015. I was hoping to see someone new. Ryan Hunter-Reay was also not on my list. While many say he is great with fans that has just not been our experience. RHR won in 2014 so he already had his win, I was hoping he wouldn’t repeat. The third driver I did not want to win was Alexander Rossi. Rossi just didnt seem to understand how special IndyCar is and especially what winning the 500 means. This was the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I wanted someone to win who truly understood what an honor that would be. I wanted Marco Andretti to win, or Helio Castroneves make history with a fourth win, or A.J. Foyt’s team win at the place that made A.J. a household name. It was an amazing race and while it was won on fuel strategy it kept us guessing until the last second. In the end it was Alexander Rossi that took the checkered flag. I’m always disappointed when the race is over simply because the race is over but this year the 100th race was over and one of the three drivers I didn’t want to win had just won. Wow! It took me awhile to wrap my head around that. 

Rossi did seem very humbled and shocked by the win and I began to soften on my feelings towards him. As I said I will always defend my IndyCar drivers. This post is about the closest I will come to saying anything bad about the drivers and I’m actually struggling to write this. I’m a diehard fan and love the sport, I want to like the drivers. Listening to the radio conversations between Rossi and Herta also made me like Rossi a bit more. As the season progressed and I adjusted to the fact that Rossi had won I became more accepting. I began to feel that if Rossi stayed in IndyCar I would be much happier about his win. At Road America the boys and I were able to meet Alexander. We got his autograph and a picture and I asked him point blank do you plan to stay in IndyCar. He was vague in his answer saying he didn’t know. I said that I hope he does which was true, part of the reason I’m not a big Montoya fan is because he won the 500 and left for NASCAR.  I want our drivers to stay in IndyCar but especially our 500 winners. 

As the season went on it seemed more likely that Rossi would stay in IndyCar. Rumors even went around putting him in a Penske car. Turns out Josef Newgarden got the Penske ride and Alexander Rossi would be staying with Andretti Autosport. There is still some speculation as to who will call his races as many are suggesting that Bryan Herta will be calling Marco’s races. Either way I’m thrilled that Rossi is staying in IndyCar. 

On Wednesday the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the unveiling of the Borg-Warner trophy complete with the newest winners face on the trophy. I tweeted Alexander that morning saying he must be having a good year as he made the front of the Nolen Christmas card. He responded with in minutes and that my friends is what I love about our IndyCar guys (and gals). I guess he does have what it takes to be one of the best. Talent, a great personality and an appreciation for the fans. Watching the live videos (Watch here And here) also showed how much he did appreciate winning and how daily he is learning what a true honor it is to have won such a prestigious race. 

I would be thrilled if Alexander won the Indianapolis 500 again and would also like to see him on the Nolen Christmas card. He has become a favorite for sure. 

Pocono Preview

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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. 

https://mobile.twitter.com/Hinchtown/status/742110150601801728

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.