My pre race thoughts

Race morning and the anticipation is about as high as it can get for me. I love this day. What I wouldn’t do to relive my first 500. I was sitting with my dad watching the 1985 race. I didn’t appreciate it enough then. This morning is completely different.

I always attend church on Sunday morning but race morning is the one time I stay home. I still spend plenty of time praying though. I pray for each driver individually and that they remain safe on this day.

I am probably one of the biggest fans that has never actually attended the Indy 500. I’ve been to time trials multiple times and my boys and I attended the inaugural GP of Indy but I’ve yet to make the 500. There are plenty of reasons for that but I have to say I’m pretty happy with the seats I do have for the race. I get to see all the action, have a great view of pre race activities, hear the back stories and get replays of the big moves. I was tweeting with Mike Knapp (15daysinmay) and asked if he was anywhere near Jim Nabors to please take a picture. He replied he would be about half a mile from him. My seat will be a bit better and I will be just a few feet from him thanks to the magic of TV. Don’t get me wrong, Jim Nabors singing Back Home Again in Indiana was a huge part of why I was hopeful to attend this year. I am bummed that I’ve lost the opportunity to see/hear him at the Speedway but I know that like Mike I wouldn’t be near enough to see him. So I will be on my comfy couch with plenty of snacks, a bit envious of those there and a bit grateful for the comforts I have.

One last thought. I tweeted TK, Hinch, Ed and Justin last night wishing them luck. These are the drivers my family is pulling for. Justin tweeted back saying “Thanks”. That made my day. On the eve of the biggest race of the year Justin took time to not only read tweets from fans but reply. Fans of Indycar are pretty blessed to have the stars of the sport who truly appreciate their fans. It just makes us more loyal to them so its a win win situation. Go Justin. Really hope you will be drinking milk at the end of the day.

Family picks for the 500

For over 20 years now my family has held a friendly wager on who will win the Indy 500. The rules have changed a bit over the years but basically you pay in $1 per car and the winner gets $33. Everyone gets to choose one driver and then after that we pick the remaining drivers out of a hat.
This began with my Dad, Mom, myself and my sister. My Dad passed away in 2007. My sister and I both married and had kids. My oldest nephew is engaged and his fiancé wants to join in the bet. It’s fun to continue the tradition. It’s also a time when I greatly miss my dad. This was all his idea in the first place.

Here are my families picks.

Patti- I chose Tony Kanaan. He has been my driver for years now. Nothing will beat last years race but back to back victories would be cool. Tony has struggled a bit this year but on day two of qualifying did find some more speed. He is amazing on starts and restarts so I expect him to be running up front. I’m still not used to him being in the 10 car and often see the 11 car and have to correct myself. I honestly don’t know that he has a car to win this year but I’m still pulling for him.

Steve- Steve is not much of a fan and only plays along because I make him. He chose Ed Carpenter this year. He did make his choice before he knew Ed had won the pole. Ed is off to an amazing season. Mike Conway winning at Long Beach and the Ed on the pole at Indy is pretty sweet. Ed won’t be satisfied though until he wins the 500. He’s fantastic on ovals so I expect he can do it. I sure hope the Speedway feels the same.

Matthew- Matthew has been a fan of Justin Wilson ever since he saw him in the McDonalds car. Matthew’s taste in fast food have changed so thankfully so have Justin’s sponsors. We know Justin can win on the ovals and he is an amazing driver. I expect at least a top ten finish and would love to see him on the podium. He is not only my sons favorite but a family favorite.

Zachary- Zach has chosen James Hinchcliffe ever since Danica departed. I was a bit worried he would be missing the GoDaddy green but he has become a big enough fan of Hinch to not care about the change of sponsors. This is a great pick and what an awesome story it would make if Hinch won. His concussion during the GP of Indy hardly slowed him down and was back in the car for qualifying. He came in second and that is amazing. On media day I was able to meet both James and Ed Carpenter. Both were great and James took extra time to make sure I told Zachary he said hello. Yeah we will cheering for Hinch at our house.

Extended family chose- Helio, Power, Dixon, Marco, JR, RHR, Servia and Pippa. All great choices. I would be surprised if Servia or Pippa won but it would be a happy surprise. There is pretty much no one in the field I don’t want to win. I would prefer that Montoya, Jacques and Kurt not win or even be on the podium although I have to say I’m warming up to Montoya.

So who will be the lucky winner of $33 and bragging rights for the next year? I guess we will find out on Sunday. I can’t wait.

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Indy 500 Media Day at the Milwaukee Mile

When the boys and I left Indy after the GP of Indy I was bummed that we wouldn’t be returning. We are usually there for time trials but switched things up this year and even though we had a fantastic time it was depressing knowing we wouldn’t be back this May. Then I got an email that made me smile. It said that Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell would be at the Milwaukee Mile on May 20th and you could walk the track with them. I immediately called my friend, Kristen, and made plans to attend. I considered taking the boys out of school to join me but they already missed a day to attend the GP of Indy so I decided against it. Then in the meantime plans changed and James Hinchcliffe would be there instead of Townsend Bell.
Kristen and I followed our usual race weekend schedule which involves a pedicure. Kristen is not a huge fan so a pedicure on the schedule helps make the day more fun for her–I enjoy it too! Then we headed to the mile. Of course the media was there doing their thing but I got to meet Tony DiZinno so that was cool. I love meeting the people I follow on Twitter. When they wrapped things up we had a chance to get autographs and pictures before the track walk. Ed was great and I got an autograph and a picture with him. I had a bottle of Fuzzy’s vodka that I hoped to have him sign but I didn’t want it on the walk so I left it in the car. Before I got a chance to meet James Hinchcliffe the track tour began. Ed and Hinch sat in the back of a minivan and everyone else followed along as they answered questions about the track. It was fun and great to hear their perspective. Do you ever break in turn two- James answered, -Only if something is wrong or to avoid something that went wrong in front of you. Some tire marks were on the wall and jokes were made about who they belonged to. As we walked around I eventually faded to the back of the crowd because as much as I wanted to hear the conversation I also wanted to enjoy being on the track and take it all in. It’s a track with so much history and I wanted a time to reflect on that while there. I took a couple pictures and made my way back up to the group. When we reached the start/finish line the car stopped and Ed and Hinch answered some more questions. We were then told that Ed needed to leave but Hinch could stay and answer more questions. Before Ed left I wanted him to sign my Fuzzy’s vodka. Kristen, dear friend that she is, ran to the car to get the bottle and when I asked Ed to sign it he remembered I had mentioned it earlier. I love that he took the time (when he needed to be leaving) to sign a second thing for me.
Kristen and I returned to listen to Hinch. The Q &A went on for awhile and the time was getting late. I needed to get home to meet the boys after school. I hated to interrupt the questions for an autograph but I had made a collage print of pictures of Ed and James and really didn’t want to leave till I had it signed by both. I took advantage of a half second lull in questions and said, “James, I’m so sorry but I have to go get my boys off the bus and I would really love an autograph.” I explained that I had this collage made with pictures of him and Ed from last year at the mile. He took the picture and signed it and pointed out that he was in front of Ed on the track. Kristen reminded me to tell him about Zach’s crab so I told him how my son named his hermit crab James Pinchcliffe. James looked right at me and said with all sincerity, “Tell him I said Hello.” It was such a simple thing but I truly felt that he cared about his fans and about a young kid named Zach. I thanked him, wished him luck in the 500 and shook his hand. Then Kristen and I made our way back to the car.
As we walked back it was Kristen who mentioned how incredible it was that we just met two of the 33 people that will be racing in the Indianapolis 500. James had mentioned it during the Q&A that most sports have many athletes but even in the biggest race of the year only 33 will be racing. Kristen said that it is such a small group but that it is amazing how approachable they are and how personable. This was the first time she met any drivers but she was quite impressed. I think we might be making a greater effort to make the autograph session at Milwaukee this year.
She pointed out something I already knew- that the Indycar drivers are awesome. Their willingness to meet fans, sign autographs, answer tweets etc has always been a priority for them. Kristen talked about her son wanting to join twitter so he could follow some Major League Baseball players and she was reluctant because she didn’t know if the content would be appropriate. My boys are not on twitter but if they followed the Indycar drivers I wouldn’t worry a bit. They are all so family friendly and make an effort to stay that way. I’m very grateful for that.
As we left the track you actually cross over the track well I pulled out just enough to look like I was racing down the back stretch in my minivan. We grabbed a couple pictures and then made our way home. What a fun day.

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Final thoughts and our last day at IMS this May

The boys are I were fortunate enough to get to spend one more day at the Speedway on Sunday for 500 practice. This was exciting for me because as much fun as the GP was I wanted to see cars on the oval. The speedway already had such a different feel. It was a small crowd with limited shops and food venders. You had your choice of places to sit and could just relax and enjoy. First thing my boys did was beg a yellow shirt to give us a ride- they were tired of walking across the speedway. The first one they asked was kind enough to drop us off at the pagoda. We walked out to view the track and ran into Eric Hall (@Erock_in_Indy, anotherindycarblog.wordpress.com) and Sage Karem. That was great. I got to talk Indycar with Eric and got a great picture of my boys with Sage. I called Sage by the wrong name so I apologize for that but I can promise you we won’t make that mistake again. He will become a favorite in our house for his willingness to stop and take a picture before he finished up his rookie orientation laps he needed to get in. I can’t imagine the stress and nerves and he stopped to talk. That was great.
Then George Phillips (@oilpressureblog, oilpressure.wordpress.com) walked by. Great having a chance to talk with him. Honestly, I might have met him briefly last year or the year prior but can’t remember. That is how I feel with some twitter friends- like we go way back even though I’ve never met them and they might not even follow me. I read their tweets and blogs and love that we have the same love for Indycar.

The boys and I got a snack, talked with Eric some more, tweeted Justin Wilson and hoped cars would get out on the track. Then Justin Wilson tweeted back- that is one of the awesome things about Indycar. Everyone is so approachable and willing to take time to talk with the fans. Justin said he wouldn’t be on track for a couple hours as they were still working on the car. The boys and I walked along the fence by the garages hoping maybe Justin was nearby and would come to the fence for a picture or autograph. At that time Eric happened to be in the garage area and tried to peak in the garage for us but said it didn’t look like JW was around. Thanks again for checking Eric.

We did see Juan Pablo Montoya. Zachary yelled out, “Hi, Juan Pablo Montoya” and then kept walking he didn’t really expect JPM to hear or respond but the opposite happened. JPM waved and kept waving until my son turned around and waved back. That was very cool. I would have to say he has softened up and might be more fan friendly than I thought he would be. He was also the only driver we happened to see standing outside his garage talking and giving autographs.

We stopped in the gift shops and met a mom with her boys- late teens. They had flowers for Pippa Mann. She said her and her boys were up late talking about which driver was best, who would win etc. I loved seeing a mom with older boys doing exactly what I hope to be doing with mine as the years progress.

Cars were now on track so we found some seats to watch and sat in front of a dad and his son (about my boys age) and he knew Scott Dixon. We enjoyed talking with him and seeing what Scott was texting to him about when he thought he would get some practice laps in. This dad also took a great picture of the boys and I with the pagoda in the background.

It was such a fun day! I can’t think of any other venue where acquaintances feel like old friends and I strike up lengthy conversations with total strangers. We even had some people on race day ask us to watch their things for them while they walked a bit. Where does that happen? Well it happens at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ve heard stories of the partying and drinking that goes on there (I’m sure race day would be a bit different) but that has not been our experience at all. For us it has always been such a great family experience and a place that I am happy to share with my boys. It’s a place where families gather and everyone wants to share their experiences. It’s a place where history is made and I’m so thankful for the time I get spend there
with my boys and share stories of my time there with my dad.

We will be counting the days till our next trip.

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Mother’s Day

No fancy meals for me today. No dressing up. No flowers passed out at church. I won’t miss any of that. Today the boys and I had free breakfast at the hotel- definitely not fancy. We have shorts and tshirts on. We are heading back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway one last time this May. I can’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day. The only think I would change is I wish my husband liked Indycar enough to be willing to join us.

Since Steve never did take the boys out to get me a Mother’s Day gift we will choose the gift at the track today–that works for me. My sweet boys did surprise me with an early gift on Friday. I had given Matthew money for hot dogs. He still had the change and they bought me a milk bottle with Tony Kannan’s name on it. That is priceless.

So as we get in a quick swim and I watch the sun peak out for the clouds I couldn’t be happier on this Mother’s Day and the best part of the day is still ahead.

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Success – Grand Prix of Indy

In my book today was a success. My boys and I attended our first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The boys attended their first race ever. The Speedway held a great race that was highly attended. All in all we had a great day!

We had a rough morning after Zach was up most of the night due to his allergies. That made us all tired. I was wondering how we would make it through the day. The beautiful weather helped. We chose to swim rather than head to the track early. We arrived around 12:30 and I was surprised at how easy it was to park in my usual spot and enter at the gate. We actually had an easier entrance today than we did on Friday. We walked a bit and watched the start of the Indy Lights race. The boys insisted on finding shade so we found very comfortable seats under a tree with hardly any view and no view at all while sitting- thank goodness for FanVision. The boys worked on their checkered flag necklaces and passed them out to those sitting by us. They had a nice time but I wanted a better view-any view. When the race was done we headed to turn two mounds but first we passed the fountain. Before I knew it two boys had their feet in the fountain. I personally am not a fan of fountains becoming pools but a quick dip of feet is permissible. Other kids were wading so I was willing to let mine sit on the edge and dip feet. I should have known better. They began wading while I checked twitter and then Zach tripped and got completely soaked. Not a proud moment for me. Guess I better keep a closer eye on them. We took a quick picture, were photo bombed and went to find ice cream. We grabbed a treat and found seats similar to those we found on Friday only they were much more crowded. We were able to find room to spread our blanket towards the top of the mound and with a view of the video board. We didn’t have to wait long for the race to start.

But it was not the start we were expecting. I can’t believe that Sebastian Saavedra stalled and was even more surprised with the crash that followed. It was a huge hit. I’m not a huge Saavedra fan but I felt so bad for him and for KV racing. Was it Saavedra’s fault? Did he do something wrong or just have horrible luck on the standing starts? I can’t answer that but regardless I felt bad for him and for the others involved. Once the race went green again it continue to stay green for the first half. The boys took a nap and I was tempted to join them. Not that I was bored but sitting on the grass in the sun was quite relaxing. The second half of the race saw more yellow, cars leading and then pitting for fuel and best part my boys were awake and watching. Watching Simon Pagenaud take the checkered flag was great. History was made and we were there. That is very cool.

So was the race truly a success? Obviously for me and my boys it was we had a blast and both boys said they enjoyed it and want to return next year. The crowd seemed huge to me. I have to imagine everyone at IMS is pleased. The standing start did not go well and I have to say I am not a fan. I hope that changes next year. I will have to watch the TV coverage before I judge the race itself. It probably wasn’t the most exciting race but it was better than some other road and street races. So in my humble opinion it was a success and hopefully will remain that way and one day years from now we will be able to say we were there for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indy.

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Today is the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

As I write this I’m watching the boys swim in the pool. This is not where I want to be. I would’ve been at the speedway hours ago taking it all in but my boys are average fans at best and swimming is their top priority. Our usual tradition is coming for qualifying weekend but since qualifying has changed and this race was added we decided to change our tradition. Or at least take a break from it. I’m actually quite bummed we won’t be here next weekend. But perhaps what is more odd is that I have never attended the 500. I am a huge fan and I never miss a race-on TV. I even showed up late to my best friends surprise birthday party because the race was delayed and I wasn’t leaving till the checkered flag waved. I was hoping to maybe finally make it this year but I have so many commitments race weekend and the thought of just driving down for the day is overwhelming so once again I will watch at home. At least this year I have surround sound and a 60 inch TV–that helps.

I will admit part of my reason for not yet attending the 500 is the crowd intimidates me so the GP of Indy should be a better fit. I’m still worried about picking good seats and keeping track of two boys who think they are old enough to wander around without me. So I’m doing all I can to make this a fun day for them. First, swimming in the pool. Sadly, this is their favorite part of the weekend. Second, I purchased FanVision. My boys are typical of any 9 and 11 year old, they love their screen time. I’m hoping this will keep them involved in the race. Third, we make checkered flag necklaces (thanks to a blog by Jill at Indycarmom). This keeps the boys busy and then they pass out the necklaces to fans sitting near by. Often these fans will give the boys a buck or two so the boys have enjoyed this activity more than I thought they would. We have used these donations to purchase new beads but I will admit they usually pay for an ice cream treat or two.

So what about the actual race. I’m super excited to finally be watching an Indycar race at the speedway even if they are going the wrong way. I’m also excited to take part in the very first one. IMS is all about history and family to me so this race will cover both.
I’m surprised at the front row with Saavedra and Hawksworth. I wish we would be in position to watch the standing start but I’m guessing we will watch that on the video screens. Our picks are always the same. I want Tony Kanaan, Matthew chooses Justin Wilson and Zach likes James Hinchcliffe. However, if I were putting money on it Dixon, Pagenaud and RHR would be on my list too.

So today I hope to have an amazing time with my sons, watch history be made and watch a fantastic race at the greatest place on earth. I hope you all have a great day and enjoy the race as much as we plan too.

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