Every time I attend a race I wonder if it will be as much fun as the last or just be a regular kinda weekend and yet somehow every trip seems to have something extra cool and extraordinary happen. This weekend was no different.
I pulled my boys out of school on Friday so we could be to IMS in time for qualifying. We arrived around noon and I texted my friend Lisa to meet up with her. Lisa is a friend I met on Twitter and it is so fun to get to know my Twitter friends better. We watched practice and the boys got some lunch and then joined us. It is so much easier having the boys with me now that they are older. I love that they can wander a bit on their own. That will be especially helpful as the weekend goes on. After the practice we all went to visit the Driven to Save Lives Garage. There we met up with Mike Silver and all chatted some more. The boys were anxious to go explore and check out the kids zone so we parted ways with our friends and set out. The kids zone is really geared for smaller children and had less activities than last year but we were told kids 14 and under could participate and Matthew is 14 so they did.
Shortly after we talked with Curt we saw some friends we had met at Road America and while talking with them Stefan Wilson walked by. I called out to him and ran over to say hello. I hate that he had to give up his ride in the 500 this year for Fernando Alonso and was grateful for the chance to let Stefan know how highly we think of him for being so amazing about the entire situation. I also told him that it was our earnest prayers that this would turn into an even better opportunity for him in the future. Stefan is every bit as awesome as Justin and I hope we see him with a full time ride in IndyCar. That would be amazing.
We did a little shopping and then it was time for qualifying. Of course the boys wanted to sit in the skyboxes across from the Pagoda and we were no where near there. Lisa met us there and we missed the first group but caught most of the second group and on. No surprise when Will Power won the Pole and I knew he would be my fantasy league pick. Lisa made plans to run home and check on her pup before meeting us at 1911 grill for dinner.
Teenagers- I had a hard time waking up my boys. I finally got them up and on our way to IMS. I wanted to be there in time to watch Sam Schmidt and Mario Andretti race in the semi-autonomous cars. This is so cool for so many reasons- the new technology that allows a paralyzed person to drive, specifically allows Sam to race again after 17 years and we also get to watch Mario, a legend, race at Indy! I couldn’t wait to watch. The race was four laps and while I know they were reaching high speeds they didn’t appear to be going too fast through the turns we were sitting near. Still I enjoyed it immensely. Mario was fastest on one part of the track and Sam on the other and they each led at different times but Mario was stronger at the start finish line and was declared the race winner. Sam immediately asked for a rematch and I look forward to seeing that. Both cars took a victory lap and Sam did some donuts very close to where we were watching from. I can’t imagine what a fun day it was for him.
We had watched that race with Mark Wilkinson, who has generously offered us spots on his big blue tarp also known as the Blue Tarp Lounge. What a treat to have a nice place to sit and friends to watch with. As always Mark thank you for your hospitality.
The boys and I went in search of lunch and settled on chicken nuggets for Zach and the new tenderloin for Matthew. Matthew loved the tenderloin but I hope to find the classic tenderloin for him to try in the near future. While the boys ate I decided to venture over to the garage area and see if I could see AJ Foyt. On my way there I ran into Curt Cavin again. When I told Curt where I was going he asked if I had a garage pass. I did not. I planned to go up on the balcony area that overlooks AJ’s garage. I would have no chance to speak with him but we sometimes see him when we are up there. Curt said he could get me credentials for the day. HOW COOL IS THAT!!! He said he needed about 20 minutes and he would call me when I could get them. Did you read where I said I was thankful the boys are old enough to be left alone for a bit? This is why! Within 20 minutes I met back up with Curt and then was on my way to the garages. I didn’t see AJ but just being able to walk through the garages was such a special treat. I understand the history of the Speedway and was honored to walk where so many others have walked before. Thank you so much Curt! That was such an amazing part of my weekend.
I caught back up with my boys and got ready to watch the race. Okay let’s be honest- this was not the most exciting part of my weekend. Will Power led from the pole and while Helio led for a stint, Power regained the first position and eventually won the race. I believe I’ve seen this race before-oh yes two years ago Power won both the pole and the race. Not very exciting. The temperature was perfect except while sitting in the direct sun so the boys and I sat under a tree behind the mounds by turn 7 for about half of the race. I enjoyed hearing the cars but knew that I wasn’t missing any action. Just follow the leader. Sure hope the new cars next year make the race more exciting. After Power’s victory we thanked Mark and made our way to the track invasion where we laid down in the donut marks made my Sam earlier. This is also becoming a tradition- Zach laid down in Bourdais donut tracks in Milwaukee.
We then walked towards the Pagoda where the boys grabbed a snack from one of the vendors that remained open and I did a last pass through the garages. I then returned my credentials to Curt and as we left the boys and I walked on the balcony overlooking the garages. We saw James Hinchcliffe there as we so often do and said hello. We’ve met him enough times now that he recognizes us as “the kids up on the balcony”. Perhaps in a different setting he would need a reminder but after a race at Indy he remembers us. Again- How cool is that?
We spent the evening swimming at the hotel and were excited to still be spending one more day in Indy.
SUNDAY- MOTHER’S DAY
So while there is no track activity at IMS on Sunday we don’t let that keep us away. We just visit the museum. Unfortunately the museum was offering free admission the two days prior to our visit. I knew I wanted more time than I would have on Friday or Saturday and honestly I have no problem paying admission to the museum so we went on Sunday. First we had breakfast at Charlie Brown’s.
When we arrived at the museum there we lots of cameras and it turned out James Hinchcliffe was there in disguise but we didn’t see him or recognize him if we did. ☹️️
I had my questions printed out from George Phillips trivia contest and set out to enjoy the museum. I walked, read and talked with lots of people included Maggie and Dan and their son. I love meeting new friends. However, no one knows the answer to the trivia questions I’m asking. I then stopped to talk with a mother and daughter who we had seen early at Charlie Browns and they said Arie Luyendyk was in the museum. I then went to find him. I tried to act casual but I’m sure he knew I had heard he was there. I asked for a picture and he noticed my Tony Kanaan shirt and asked if I was a fan. I responded that I first followed AJ , then Arie and then TK. I told Arie that I had won some money in my family pool thanks to his wins. I then said that I thought it was ironic that I went from being an AJ fan to an Arie fan when the two of them were known for the incident at Texas. I did not know about this until years later because for many years I was an Indy 500 only fan. Arie kinda laughed and said that was years ago and that he and AJ were fine now. I thanked him for the picture and hoped he had a nice day. Zach also found him and got an autograph on his hat. I continued looking around and talking with others. Turns out a gentleman who was an engineer for Joe Leonard was also visiting the museum. I would have loved to talk with him but didn’t know how to approach him so I didn’t.
I continued to ask museum workers what the working title for the Borg-Warner trophy was but no one knew the answer. As I talked with some museum workers Arie walked by and we asked him if he knew. I said your face is on it twice surely you know. He didn’t. I asked if he knew who the oldest Pole sitter was. He suggested Emerson Fittipaldi and then said he was 43 when he won the pole and that perhaps it was him but he was unsure. It wasn’t him but it was fun talking with him some more.
The boys always buy me my Mother’s Day present at IMS per my request but this year they went above and beyond. They bought me a beautiful Justin Wilson print that cost more than they could afford. When I stated that it was too much money they responded- but mom the proceeds go to the Wilson Children’s fund. I couldn’t argue with that. What sweet boys I have. Zach also bought me some wing and wheel earrings. They spent way too much. I didn’t even know they had that much with them but I love their thoughtfulness. We took a couple pictures at the museum and main entrance and then sadly left for home. We had another amazing weekend and one we will never forget.