The Hundreth Running of the Indianapolis 500!

It’s a couple hours after the 500 and I’m still not sure how I’m feeling about Alexander Rossi winning. Before the race I said I didn’t want Montoya, Hunter-Reay or Rossi to win. A friend asked why Rossi. He is only in IndyCar because he lost his Formula One ride. He was not happy with the move and that is why I’m not happy he won. He doesn’t appear to love IndyCar and love the Indy 500 so why should he win. That is why I don’t care for Montoya. He won the 500 and left for NASCAR, only to return after things went bad at NASCAR. Does he really appreciate that IndyCar is the superior form of racing?  Might not pay the same but it is so much better. However, while watching Rossi before he emerged from the car and seeing his emotion over winning I think that perhaps he does get it. If he sticks around in IndyCar I may become a fan but if he leaves first chance he gets I will not be happy. The Indy 500 is an incredible race with a fascinating history. I want all the winners to truly appreciate what winning the 500 means. Carlos Munoz gets it. Josef Newgarden gets it. Both were crushed at coming so close to winning and falling short. Helio Castroneves gets it, he has tasted the milk three times. He is desperate to join the four time winner club. James Hinchcliffe gets it. He nearly lost his life at the Speedway yet returns a year later and puts his car on the pole. The demons he had to overcome to get back in the car, at Indy and go faster than everyone, James showed amazing determination. Hopefully today made Rossi a lifetime IndyCar driver. I want our 500 winners to continue in IndyCar. 

But long before Alexander Rossi took the checkered flag we had 500 miles of an entertaining race. Let’s look at some of that. 

Top Five-

Carlos Munoz- It’s hard to be a fan of Carlos. He does not receive enough attention so as fans we don’t get a chance to know him. When he does it’s hard to understand him. Watching him sit in his car after the race and hearing the emotion during his post race interview will bump him up a notch. Carlos has had incredible finishes at the 500. It’s just a matter of time before he gets his win. I hope Andretti keeps him around. 
Josef Newgarden- He was clearly upset at the end too. Has to be so hard to know you have a car that can win but then not. I can’t even imagine what his career would like like if he was with one of the bigger teams. That said, I hope he stays with Ed Carpenters team. 

Tony Kanaan- Tony also looked like he had a good chance to win. He was all smiles in the interview saying he had a blast racing. 

Charlie Kimball- we didn’t hear much about Charlie during the race but he apparently kept up with the leaders and had a good clean race. He has the talent but can’t quite seem to get that extra boost he needs to have more wins. A top five at Indy is a good finish. 

My Favorites 

James Hinchcliffe- He won the pole and was a contender all day. The twin checkers just needed to wave at the right time and this could have been his race but this is Indy and anything can happen. Hinch finished seventh, he deserved better. 

Stefan Wilson- Stefan had an electrical problem in the car and couldn’t get it out of third gear as I understand it. It ended his day. I was so disappointed because Stefan has gone above and beyond to interact with fans and support his sponsors. He is the driver we want in IndyCar. He (and others like him) is how we grow the sport. I hope he gets more opportunities to drive. Stefan is a family favorite for sure. 

AJ Foyt Racing- They struggled through most of the race. Sato was carving his way up but made contact with the wall. Tagliani led the race before finishing 17th. Not bad considering he started last. Didn’t hear much about Hawksworth. He finished 16th. All in all not the best day for AJ Foyt racing. 

Graham Rahal- since Graham often doesn’t qualify well and then gets a good finish I expected him to do better. He finished 14th. 

Others to Mention

Townsend Bell- He also looked like he had a good chance to win. A problem in the pits ended that chance. He just didn’t have room to maneuver when exiting the pits. He attempted to get in the fast lane but made contact with a car and that sent him into Ryan Hunter-Reay and both had the race win slip from their fingers. Was it Townsend’s fault?  I’m not sure about that yet but when you get 25+ cars in pit lane you have to expect problems. 

Pippa Mann- Only woman in the field. She finished 18th, the first car one lap down.  At one point she was in the top ten and I thought she might have a top 15 finish. Not a bad race for her. 

Oriol Servia- He always impresses. I know he is getting older but why he isn’t in a full time seat I will never understand. Oriol finished 12th. 

Marco Andretti- I really expected to see more of Marco during the race but he seemed to just run mid pack. Another disappointing day for Marco. 

Helio Castroneves- will he ever get the fourth win?  As the years go by it’s not looking good. He had a chance but contact with JR Hildebrand ended that chance. 

Well this is where I wrap it up. There is still more to say but that will be another day. All in all it was a great race with beautiful weather. It was the kind of race that makes new fans. Hopefully the Indianapolis 500 remains on people’s radar for a long time and we continue to celebrate milestones at the Speedway for centuries to come. In the short term I hope the Detroit race draws some extra attention coming of the heels of the 500. So excited for the double header this weekend. 

I Won’t be at The 500 and That’s Okay

After being on the edge of my seat for qualifying- actually that’s not true- I was standing during Hinch’s qualifying run, I’m greatly reconsidering my choice to not attend this this years 500. But than again it wasn’t really a choice, my husband turns 50 on the 27th and we are having a party on the 28th. Steve is not a fan and of course my marriage is more important than attending the 500. Actually I’ve only attend one Indy 500 and that was last year. I enjoyed every minute but I’m okay with watching from home this year and here’s why—

1. As previously stated Steve has no interest in going and he has a pretty big milestone to celebrate. We have a family night planned for Friday which is his actually birthday. I really tried to convince him that Curt Cavin’s Carb Night Burger Bash would be a great way to celebrate but he wasn’t going for it. I also thought the perfect way to celebrate a 50th birthday is to attend the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 but again no interest. Saturday we have a party planned and then on Sunday he will watch the start of the race with me. 

2. I really don’t like big crowds.  I can’t even imagine what the race will be like this year with so many people there. I’m thankful to not have to worry about that. 

3. Weather won’t be a problem for me. Of course I will be disappointed if it rains but I always love the interviews and special segments that run during a rain delay. The temperature won’t be an issue for me either. Last year it was a beautiful day but man did it feel hot sitting in the stands. The boys were complaining and we left our seats to look for shade and eventually dipped our toes in the fountain. I had no clue hat was happening on the track. I won’t have to worry about those interruptions in my air conditioned house. 

4. No lines for the bathroom or snacks. Sure I will miss the tenderloin sandwich but I will have my favorite snacks and beverages prepared. Oh and I won’t have to carry all my things for miles from the car to my seat. 

5. Tradition!  My tradition, except last year, is to watch the race on TV. I live in the Chicago area so I can watch live. I watched the 1985 race with my dad in the front room of my childhood home. Dad and I continued to watch the races together and if we weren’t together we would call each other many times during the race. My dad has been gone since 2007 but he is always on my mind on race day. Dad took me to Pole Day at IMS in 1993. We had such a fun weekend and now I take my boys. The Indy 500 is all about tradition. My traditions might be a bit different from those in the Hoosier state but the are special to me.  I have a front row seat for all the action from my couch. I don’t miss a thing and if I do I can rewind. Steve and the boys watch the beginning and then check in during the race. I make a taco dip and enjoy more of it than I should. In recent years I keep an eye on Twitter to share my thoughts and hear others. I thoroughly enjoy my Indy 500 tradition. 
So yes in a perfect world I would be in attendance for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. I would hear the engines and smell the burnt rubber but watching at home won’t lessen my excitement. It’s still the 100th running and it will be epic from whichever seat you have.  To my friends there, tweet lots of pictures and enjoy every minute. To those watching on TV, keep tweeting and enjoy every minute. I CAN NOT WAIT!!!

GP of Indy Race Day

Race day was cold, upper 40s, so we weren’t in a big rush to get to the Speedway. After breakfast we packed up what we had to keep warm and wished we had packed more. It was windy too so all warm clothes were needed. Fortunately, the rain had passed so we didn’t need to worry about getting wet.

We left for the Speedway around noon and walked past the garages when we got there. We all pulled our hoods up to protect against the cold and I feared it would be a long day. We saw James Hinchcliffe do a news interview and yelled out to him that we hoped he had a good race. We then ventured down to the kids zone. The boys played in the bounce houses until I dragged them to the tweet up at the Cooper Tires stage. After the q&a with the Pro Mazda drivers I talked with some Twitter friends and met Mike Silver (@tudorindie).  Mike just started a blog about his experiences at IMS. I’ve really been enjoying it. You can find it at After that we just had enough time to grab a snack and find our seats. I still wasn’t sure where we were going to sit. 

We discussed sitting on the bleachers but I wasn’t sure which ones were open. The first year we sat in the turn two (oval) mounds but you can’t see much racing from there. We decided to see if we could find a spot viewing the 7-8-9 turns. As we walked along the mounds I saw this big blue tarp. Mark Wilkenson (@NewTrackRecord) had tweeted about it earlier so I looked to see if it was his tarp. Sure enough there was Mark (he also has a blog I enjoy- I stopped to say hello and Mark invited us to sit with him. What a blessing! We didn’t have to use all our blankets to keep off the cold wet ground and were able to keep dry while enjoying great views of the race. Thanks again Mark! Just before the race began another friend came by, Eric Hall (@Erock_in_Indy, oh and of course I enjoy his blog too- Hmm I’m ditecting a theme).  Eric was joined by Katie and we all talked before the race began. 

As I’ve said before I always struggle to follow a race in person and a road course is the hardest because you can’t see the entire course. The led displays did help tremendously though. You also couldn’t miss Simon Pagenaud’s car in the bright Menards colors. A couple cars went off in the grass near us and that helped keep Matthew’s attention for the first half of the race. Zach promptly covered up with blankets and didn’t really watch. 

Can you find Zach in the picture?  He just looks like a pile of blankets. 

As the race neared the final laps I really began to get cold. There were some good battles and Connor Daly led for a bit but it was Simon Pagenaud that took the checkered flag. That is the third race in a row that Pagenaud has won. It will be interesting to see what he does at the 500. 

We packed up our things. Thanked Mark again for letting us join his group and made our way to the garage overlook one last time. It was cold and garage doors were down so we walked to our car and made dinner plans. Since we missed the activities on Main Street Friday night we decided to head that way to have dinner. We ended up at the 1911 Grill. We all enjoyed our meal and after we checked out the karting facility. Next trip we will try the karts but this time we just watched. When we left I drove the length of Main Street to see the new entrance to the Speedway and then once again down main street to leave the area. As we neared the 1911 Grill a man and woman were crossing in the cross walk in front of us. As I watched the gentleman walk with a slight limp I realized it was A. J. Foyt and his wife. I will regret for the rest of my life that I didn’t put the car in park and jump out to meet him. I know that would have made me look like a crazy fan but you don’t get many opportunities like that and I let it slip away. We circled around the block but by then they were in their car. I’ve met many drivers but A. J. is the driver I want to meet most. Fingers crossed I get an opportunity at Road America. 

We returned to our hotel and went to the pool. The hot tub felt amazing after a long cold day. The race might be over but we still had one more day to our trip and a visit to the IMS museum and Cars and Coffee car show were still on our agenda. 

Grand Prix of Indy- Day One

It continues to amaze me what fun interactions we have when we are at an IndyCar race. Today we were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for qualifying for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. While I hoped to meet some drivers and perhaps meet up with some Twitter friends, I realize that not every time we meet a driver will be special. Sometimes you just get a quick autograph from a driver who really wants to just eat his lunch and not deal with the fans- that would be Ryan Hunter-Reay. I have to give Ryan credit, he came over and signed Zach’s hat while he had his lunch in his hand but you could tell he wasn’t pleased. I understand that it has to get old signing autographs all the time but the IndyCar drivers more often than not do it with a smile and we have had some really neat interactions. Well that wasn’t the case with RHR but the day was young. 

We arrived at the Speedway just before noon. As we entered and saw cars on track, I stopped and asked a couple if it was the Indy Lights practice. They said it was and we enjoyed talking with them for a bit. The boys know how I can get when talking IndyCar and they quickly pulled me from the conversation. They were looking forward to the free garage days and wanted to get some autographs. As we neared the garage area it appeared you could walk right in- no waiver. Hmm?!?! It had said online a waiver needed to be signed and that you must be 9 or older. I asked a yellow shirt and he waved us right in- no waiver needed. We walked in and realized immediately we weren’t truly in the garage. We had closer access but it was still gated to keep you from walking up and down the rows. Not at all what I would call garage access. We saw a couple drivers but most were too far to notice us. Disappointing. We walked to the other entrance to the garages from gasoline alley and saw another sign but it just directed you back to the area we had been before. Next we went to sign up (sign a waiver) for the Ivy Tech Garage Tours. As we walked up the man said, “I have good news and bad news.”  The good news was we could see the garages from the area we had been before- not really good news. The bad news was you needed to be 18 and older. What!?!?  Online, the IMS website, it said 9 and older. They said I could do the tour while my boys waited. While my boys could be left alone for a short time that doesn’t sound like a fun family day so I passed. I did ask though if once I did the tour I would have access for the rest of the day to the garage. I was told no, only a tour. So much for free garage days. 

The boys and I went to find a snack and make a plan. While they were eating I did venture through the portion of the garages that was open.  I had really been hoping to see Stefan Wilson. I tweeted Stefan and KVSH racing and both responded letting me know that Stefan was not at the autograph session (which I assumed) and also exactly where their garage was. Of course it was the farthest one from where I was allowed to be. As I stared down the long row wondering how I would convince Stefan to walk all the way down to meet some fans a gentleman noticed me. He walked over and asked if I would like to come into the garage area. He showed me how you could easily sneak past the gate. Well I had already seen how you could and promptly told my boys that we would not be doing that. However, it was just a moment earlier that Stefan had tweeted me back saying where his garage was and it was extremely tempting. As it turns out, Stefan wasn’t at the garage at that time. I will not say how I learned that but perhaps you can imagine. I ran into the gentleman again and had a nice conversation about visits to the Speedway. As I was talking with him I saw another man walk by that I was sure I had met last year. It was. His name is Terry and last year my boys sold him a checkered flag necklace. He liked Zach’s Firestone Racing hat and bought that from him too.  Terry remembered me and the boys- Zach especially and we talked for a bit.(Previous time we met Terry) He told his buddy about the hat and then told me a story about it. When Justin Wilson died Terry and his friend wrote a message on the hat and left it at the Speedway gate.  I loved hearing that. We hated that we couldn’t visit the Speedway to leave flowers. We actually did our own memorial at a race track turned forest preserve near our house. Hearing that a hat that once belonged to us became part of the memorial left at the speedway made me happy. I showed Terry the selfie Matthew took with Justin and he was visible touched. 

I got a couple pictures and went to get the boys. I had left them longer than I intended. As I was heading back who passes by? James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin. I was so tempted to follow but instead got the boys and headed towards Hinch’s garage. Fortunately Hinch’s garage is right near the edge where the gates were. We could easily see him if he was out. We tweeted him and waited. As we stood there I notice someone else walk up—STEFAN WILSON!!!  I said to Matthew I think that is Stefan. He agreed it looked like him and we called to him. He saw us and we asked him to come over. He gave us the one minute sign and entered the garage. A couple minutes later he returned and walked over to us. As he did others noticed him and called out but Stefan came straight to us and spent a couple minutes talking with us. Of course we told him how sorry we were about Justin. Matthew had on his Justin shirt (the first time he has worn it since August) and got some autographs. We said we couldn’t wait to watch him in the 500 and promised he would hear us cheering from Chicago. We also got a picture. It is a great picture of Stefan and not so good of us but it will be a favorite of ours forever. 

So even without garage access or a planned tweet up, at a huge facility we met friends and drivers. As I said our experiences always continue to amaze me. I don’t believe fans of other sports have the same experiences we have with the fans or athletes and that is one of the things I love about IndyCar. 

As the day went on we watched qualifying, spent some time in the kids zone and wore ourselves out. We had planned to attend the Festival on Main but Zach was overheated and exhausted so we packed up and headed the hotel. After dinner and resting we went to the pool and played cards after that. Another successful day at the Indianapolos Motor Speedway. 

Qualifying notes- Simon Pagenaud won the pole but was the only Penske driver to make the fast six. Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal, jack Hawksworth also made the fast six. Unfortunately, Rahal and Newgarden were u dear weight and will be starting from the back of the field. 

Race day the weather will be cool and windy so it could be a very interesting race. 

Terry with a new Firestone hat. 

We watched qualifying in the shade after getting more sun than we had anticipated. Loved sitting across from the Pagoda. Beautiful city views too. 

The Month of May

It’s finally here- The Month of May! But this isn’t just any May this is May 2016, this is the month that the Indianapolis 500 reaches a major milestone- The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500!  It’s going to be a great month. 
While you can find many blogs and articles on the history of the Indy 500, my blog is of a more personal nature so let’s take a look at my past Months of May

  • May 1985- I watch my first Indy 500 with my dad. 
  • May 1993- First time at the Speedway when cars are on track. We are there to see A. J. Foyt announce his retirement. It was bittersweet. 
  • May 1994- I attend Pole day with a girlfriend. 
  • May 1995- My boyfriend (now husband) insisted we attend the wedding of a friend. I suggested we skip the wedding and attend the reception so I could watch the end of the race. Steve thought that was rude and insisted we attend the ceremony. The marriage did not last and the groom eventually became my brother-in-law, marring my sister in 1999. I knew I should not have attended that wedding. 
  • May 2003- My son, Matthew, watches (on tv) his first 500. Okay so he was only 3 months old but it was still fun to introduce him to the 500.
  • May 2004- Another fun race day, watched with my dad and Matthew at my parents house. 
  • May 2005- Zachary’s first Indy 500. He was 6 months old. Hmm a 6 month old and a toddler. I don’t remember much about that race. 
  • May 2006- The last year I share the experience with my dad. Dad was diagnosed with melanoma and died in February 2007. 
  • May 2008- It’s been too long since I’ve been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I decide to drive down for Pole Day. I bring Matthew along. He is five. We had a great time. 
  • May 2009- Matthew and I decide to go to Indy again for Pole Day. This time we drive down the night before and stay in a hotel with a pool. 
  • May 2010- Pole Day again but this time both Matthew and Zachary join me. We spend the whole weekend in Indy. It was much more relaxed. 
  • May 2011- Pole Day and a visit to the Speedway on Sunday too. The boys are members of the kids club and we meet Justin Wilson among others. Justin was Matthews favorite driver so this was an exciting day. I also met many of my Twitter friends. 
  • May 2012- My sister and nephew joined us for their first trip to the Speedway. Pole day and kids club again this year. 
  • May 2013- The boys and I attend Pole Day.  
  • May 2014- We break from our tradition and attend the Grand Prix of Indy. The boys enjoyed their first race. 
  • May 2015- We again attended the GP of Indy. We met James Hinchcliffe and gave him a checkered flag bracelet the boys had made. 

          Then we attended our FIRST INDY 500.  Fantastic day!

  • May 2016- We are unable to attend the 500 but will be at the GP of Indy. 

So here are some of the things I’m looking forward to this May. 

  • Trackside is on every weeknight and The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson returns. I enjoy both of these radio programs. I really need to live in Indy so I can take Donald’s class on the 500. That would be a blast. 
  • For the 9th year I will spend time with my boys at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will once again attend the GP of Indy. While we only attended the one 500, we all enjoy our time at the Speedway. I know it is something they will always remember and even though they are not the super fans I want them to be they have a ton of fun during our weekend. 
  • I plan to visit the Foyt Vault. With two tween boys in tow this won’t be the exact experience I’m looking for but I plan to purchase some Foyt wines and love that I won’t have to pay shipping. We will probably be on the look out for some Hinchtown Hammer Down as well as Fuzzy’s vodka. My boys might start to think mom drinks too much until they realize I want the bottles for decoration more than the content- although I’m sure over time the bottles will be drained. 
  • I’m hoping George Phillips of Oilpressure blog will have his annual Indy 500 trivia contest. I did horrible last year but had so much fun trying to find the answers. 
  • Towards the end of the month things get really busy. Friday, May 27, Steve turns 50. Saturday we are having a birthday party. Hopefully no one stays too late because Sunday I will be up early and camped out in front of my big screen tv with surround sound watching the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Is there any month better than the Month of May?  I don’t think so.