So things are a bit different at Indyfest this year and there won’t be any track activity until late Saturday. Both qualifying and the race will happen on Sunday. The boys and I still decided to begin our weekend on Friday though so we could attend some driver appearances. Having attended some last year (and had a blast) I knew it would be a great chance for a little time to actually get a chance to talk with the drivers. So our first stop was a grocery store to see Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The Sendik’s Food Mart in Greenfield was were Ryan Hunter-Reay would be. We showed up and there was no signage announcing him. We even had to ask where to find him (or if it was even the right store). The woman directed us to where she thought he was– Really– How could you not know? Anyway, we walked over and saw Ryan. No line, hardly anyone milling around, perfect, we wouldn’t be rushed at all while we talked with him a bit. Wow! I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’ve never been disappointed when meeting a driver until today. We said hello- calling Ryan by name. He asked the boys names and signed his autograph for both of them. I pulled out my ticket from this years Indy 500 for him to sign. I said something about it being kinda beat up. He didn’t say a thing. Ok I get it, he’s probably signed a million of the tickets but I thought he might at least acknowledge that we had went. He did ask the boys if they were going to the race this weekend. We responded yes and that we would be there both Saturday and Sunday. Again- good time to acknowledge that we were big time fans that really care, but no comment at all. I asked if Ryan knew what would happen if it rained. The sweet girl working said it would not rain (being optimistic). We actually talked more with her than Ryan. Ryan then made it visibly clear that we were done and I said we were looking forward to the race and it was good to meet him and we were done.
Perhaps I’m spoiled but that was so disappointing for me. I’m used to the drivers taking time and asking questions back and realizing I’m more than just an autograph hound. He truly seemed to not care. Oh and did I mention there was no one else there. No one was behind him waited to see him. We left the store feeling disappointed.
We were now on our way to the David Hobbes Honda Dealer to see Marco Andretti, Jack Hawksworth and of course David Hobbes. We drove to the dealer and arrived just at 4:00 when it started. There was a decent line to get Marco’s autograph. We waited and enjoyed talking with those around us. Marco was awesome. He was very polite and took a couple minutes to talk with us and even take a picture (not everyone was taking pictures and there were people waiting behind us). Since Marco doesn’t have a reputation for being the most talkative in the paddock I was kinda worried after our experience with Ryan but it was the complete opposite. We were thrilled. We then had to wait until David came out and then eventually Jack Hawksworth arrived. We got both their autographs. We told Jack we were huge A.J. Fans and thanked David for always hosting this event. David responded that he hoped it would continue (us too). Wow! What a difference from the session with Ryan. The boys even commented on the difference and how much nicer Marco and Jack were. Guess it wasn’t just me.
After we drove to our hotel and enjoyed a swim.
As I reflected on our day I had some thoughts.
-I was never a huge RHR fan. I thought that might change after meeting him but it didn’t.
-RHR might have been having a horrible day, I have no clue. Perhaps that is just his nature. I’m not holding anything against him but I had hoped meeting him would have been more fun.
-Marco, on the other hand, went up a couple points in my book. I’ve always been a fan but having a nice meet and greet made it even better.
-I told Marco that last year I met Josef Newgarden at the dealership and told Josef that it was just a matter of time till he got his first win and that Marco’s next win would also come shortly.
-Jack Hawksworth and David Hobbes were both great. Loved that they took time to talk with us.
-My boys are getting bigger and these trips are so precious. I’m so thankful to be able to share this with them.
Check back soon for more on our race weekend at the Milwaukee Mile.