Praying for Mikhail Aleshin

Last night I watched Indycar qualifying and after watching Will Power qualify in a horrible position and Helio Castroneves win the pole I turned to Twitter to see everyone’s thoughts on that. Both have been so close to winning the championship and then both have lost it- multiple times. It might not be looking too bad for Simon Pagenaud after all😉. But of course my twitter feed was filled with the horrible crash involving Mikhail Aleshin and Charlie Kimball.

The crash had just happened when I checked Twitter so there was nothing to do but wait with that deep pain in your gut as you remember other accidents and tragedies from the past and worry about the outcome for Mikhail. But soon into my waiting I remember that there is something I can do. I can pray. Thinking positive thoughts is all fine and dandy but praying to the Maker of the universe- well that is amazing. There is power in prayer.

We’ve been asked in the past to write sponsors and thank them for their support of Indycar. We’ve been asked to do everything possible to attend oval races to keep them on the schedule. Well I’ve done both but I think the greatest thing we can do is pray.

Often (I will admit not always) I pray for the safety of the drivers and teams before a race. Sometimes I pull out the list of drivers and mention each one by name. This is especially true before the 500 and other ovals.

I realize not everyone shares my believe in God and the power of prayer but to those who do I challenge you (if you are not already) to lift up the drivers, teams and spectators in prayer before a race. I don’t want to get into a discussion on why God answers some prayers and not others. I just know God can’t answer if we don’t ask. I plan to ask that he keep those involved with Indycar safe. I hope you do the same.

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Milwaukee Indyfest 2014 -Friday, Saturday and Sunday

I have to say I love attending a race weekend and was thankful to be able to attend two races this year. Milwaukee was tremendously fun and my good friend Kristen and I hardly had a chance to relax. But our experience was more about the event than the race. I actually found the race a bit dull and when a few things did happen on track I would not have really known what what happening except that I was keeping an eye on my Twitter feed. So I want to run down my race weekend but I will try and stick to the highlights.

Kristen and I always begin a race weekend with pedicures.

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Following that we went to David Hobbs Honda to meet James Hinchcliffe and Josef Newgarden.

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Later that evening we attended the street party where we stopped Tristan Vautier for a picture.

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And attempted to squeeze into an Indycar.

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Saturday morning we went to the tweet up at the Mile. Pippa was amazing as always. There was a Q & A with Matthew Brabham and Zach Veach.

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After that we wandered the fan village and the paddock. This was the first time I’ve had a paddock pass. That was quite enjoyable and we had a chance to chat with Justin Wilson, Robin Miller, Charlie Kimball and Larry Foyt. I will have to write about my conversation with Larry another time but A J is why I love Indycar so a chance to talk with Larry was very cool. I can’t imagine the fool I would’ve made of myself had I spoken with AJ although I sure hope I get to one day.

Kristen and I made a point of watching the Rickshaw race which was a fun event. We also attended an autograph session with the Pro Mazda drivers.

We made our way to the stands eventually to watch qualifying. Will Power won the pole position. He has greatly stepped up his performance on the ovals and with two of the last three races being an oval that might be just what he needs to finally win the championship. Tony Kanaan will be starting second and it’s good to see him consistently up front. Ryan Hunter-Reay did not qualify well and that is surprising given how well he has raced here in the past.

I would’ve loved to stay for the Pro Mazda race but Kristen had enough for one day so we went back to the hotel and out for dinner. (see my previous post for a fun blog we wrote that night at dinner and the name of a great place to have dinner in the Milwaukee area)

Also I have to note that booking the Fairfield Inn using the Champion Crew Conversations code is an amazing deal–$60 a night, free breakfast and three free drinks each both nights. Combine that with the deal we got on tickets from Living Social and it a very affordable weekend.

Sunday morning, for reasons out of our control, Kristen and I woke up exhausted from a poor night sleep. We made the decision to skip the autograph session. I’ve carried Helio’s book around a race multiple times, hopefully one day I will get it signed. When parking our car the rickshaw guys were all gathered near. Kristen and I splurged and had Big Steve, winner of heat 1&2 of yesterday’s rickshaw races, give us a ride to the gate. We then made our way to the infield and enjoyed some of the infield activities. Then we walked to the stands to watch the Lights race, back to the infield to see Arie Luyendyk, back to the stands for the Rickshaw finals, infield for lunch at the Simmer truck and finally back to our seats for the race. Thank goodness it’s a small track.

We enjoyed the race but while I used to feel that ovals had lots of passing and the road and street courses were just follow the leader I’m started to feel the opposite. Will Power started from the pole and basically led the whole way and easily took the checkered flag. A yellow came out for Carlos Munoz after a brush with the wall but had it not been for twitter I wouldn’t have known why the yellow was out. I happened to notice RHR on the video screen and then watched as he slowly entered the pits so I once again checked twitter as without a scanner I wouldn’t have known anything had happened. And so the cars all followed Will and eventually finished their 250 miles. An extra yellow or two might have made things a little more exciting.

Josef Newgarden had an awesome final run after having to stop for gas. His new tires helped him move back up the field for a top five finish. I hope he stays with the merged Carpenter Fisher team. I only see good things coming from that merger.

With only two races left and Helio and RHR dropping farther back in the championship points I’m thinking it might finally be Will Powers turn to win.

Just before leaving the track we met up with Mike Knapp (15days in May) and his new bride, Darcy. It was fun catching up with Mike and getting to meet Darcy. A couple years ago if you would have told me that I would regularly meet up with people from Twitter I never would have believed you but this weekend I met up with a few and I enjoy getting to meet everyone. Mike is the twitter friend I have known the longest and it’s always great seeing him at a race.

I could go on but I promised only the highlights so I’ll finish with a couple pictures.

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Kristen and I with Big Steve, winner of the Rickshaw World Championship.

One last thought, Saturday was a low attendance day but I thought Sundays crowd was very good. I’ve attended the last three years and I would say 2014 was the best year yet. I truly enjoy this event and would highly recommend it to all.

Qualifying and fun at Milwaukee Indyfest

Today Kristen and I had a blast at Milwaukee Indyfest. I’m ashamed to say we didn’t follow all the on track action but, we made the most of our time there and met quite a few drivers and fans. What I learned during my day is that while I don’t always get all the technical aspects I am a super fan. So Kristen(not a super fan) and I put together a list to determine the difference between a casual and super fan.

A casual fan recognizes AJ Foyt. A super fan not only recognizes AJ but runs down Larry Foyt as he leaves the paddock and tells him their life story including how reading AJ’s biography turned her into a Indycar fan.

A casual fan orders a Pepsi. A super fan will only order a Snapple and refuse all drinks that are not official Indycar sponsors.

A casual fan knows the cars have engines. A super fan knows which drivers have a Chevy engine and which have Honda.

A casual fan walks through the paddock and enjoys looking around. A super fan randomly yells out names like, “Robin Miller!” and has that person stop and say hi and hopefully also grab a picture.

A casual fan goes to the Honda dealership to look at cars. A super fan stops at a dealership miles from home to meet the Indycar drivers.

A Casual fan knows the drivers names. A super fan calls the drivers by their nicknames/initials–TK, RHR and The Mayor of Hinchtown.

A casual fan goes for a mile walk around her neighborhood. A super fan drives 75 miles to do a track walk at the Milwaukee Mile with Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe. Oh…and they bring a bottle of Fuzzy’s vodka with them.

A casual fan follows their favorite drivers on twitter. A super fan follows all the drivers, teams, sponsors and all the other bloggers and super fans. The super fan will often randomly call out a persons name because they recognize that person from their twitter picture.

A casual fan ignores old men sitting alone at a bar. A super fan begins a conversation with them and discusses all the intricacies of Indycar and unfortunately Nascar– but hey it’s racing and gives the super fan a chance to sell her sport.

Almost all of the above have happened to my casual friend, Kristen, and myself as we walked around Indyfest today. She is amazing for putting up with me. Things might be changing though— she randomly yelled out, “Charlie Kimball!” She recognized him before I did. I was quite proud. Oh and she also got the Firestone Firehawk tattooed on her leg- well airbrushed but still…

Looking forward to a fantastic race tomorrow. I’m really hoping TK or Josef Newgarden takes the checkered flag. I’m guessing I’ll be pretty happy as long as it’s not RHR.
Oh and while having an amazing dinner at Mike La Susa’s restaurant, Larry Foyt favorited my tweet– Ahh the joys of being a super fan. It’s pretty cool.

Mid Ohio 2014

So you can’t really complain when you’ve had 10 different race winners in 10 different races but it would’ve been okay with me if Dixon had not won the race today. That said, coming from last to win was amazing and the way he saved fuel also amazing. I would’ve been happy with Josef Newgarten winning. Can’t believe that they had that problem in the pit stop. But before we discuss the end maybe we should start at the beginning.

Thoughts from the start of the race-

1. I’m a Christian and I personally enjoy that NBCSN covers the invocation on their broadcast. I often pray for the safety of all those at a race. I hope others do the same.

2. Every time we watch the two seater I get so mad that no one ever mention Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee. I want the winner of the Fastest Seat in Sports to be an Indycar fan not just some random sweepstakes winner. I was just about to tweet something along those lines when it was mentioned that today’s winner was from Indianapolis. Ok if he is from Indy then he better be a Trackside listener. AND HE WAS. Finally. I’ve actually rehearsed my interview so watch out for me when I win!

3. Crowd looks amazing.

Okay on to the actual start. In all honesty I do like a good crash (as long as no one is hurt) because it can take out those guys I don’t want to win. That didn’t happen today. Tony Kanaan is my guy and I was so hopeful today would be his day. I also didn’t want Marco out either. How Hinch got through was amazing. When they showed the replay from his car- great driving and luck combined to give him a podium finish- well deserved.

I’m not a big Saavedra fan but felt bad for him. Apparently he lost oil pressure. He had been gaining and running fast so I hate it when those guys who don’t always run up front are looking good and then have something beyond their control take them out.

Speaking of that– Where do you start with Josef Newgarten? There was no way he could have avoided the hose that was in his pit box. Why was it so far out? I imagine everyone’s adrenaline was a bit high knowing they needed a perfect stop and that kind of stress is never good. The penalty for hitting equipment was the right call but I still hated to hear that Josef was being penalized. What an amazing young driver though. His post race interview was perfect. He didn’t have a fit, throw things or blame the pit crew. Just kept his chin up and said it wasn’t their day. This young man is exactly the kind of driver I want my boys to have a a a role model. I’m impressed with most of the Indycar drivers but Josef is among the top.

Can’t wrap this up without a few more words about Scott Dixon. I was really hoping TK would have the first win for Target Chip Ganassi. I never expected Dixon to win it from last place. I was shocked at how little fuel Dixie had left. Love him or hate him (I’m somewhere in the middle) but you have to admit he is one of the best. Sure he has a great team behind him but he shows time and again that he has true talent on the track.

What do I want to see next year? Can we add five more laps so it is not about fuel and everyone makes three stops? I know it’s all part of the strategy and anyone could have made the same decision but right now I wish the race would have gone a couple more laps.

Two weeks till Milwaukee. Can’t wait. I will be there!