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. 

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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.