IndyCar returns to Gateway Motorsports Park

I honestly have so much I want to share from our weekend at Gateway I’m not even sure where to start. As soon as I heard Gateway was on the schedule I made plans in my head to attend. I’ve always tried to support new venues and especially those close to home. I’m in the Chicago suburbs so St Louis isn’t too far. Plans came along and we were able to attend. My boys and my cousin attended with me. 

WEEKEND IN ST. LOUIS

Besides attending the race there is lots to do in StLouis. We arrived to town on Friday which was my cousin Randy’s birthday. One of his favorite restaurants is the Spaghetti Factory so we began our night there and walked to the Gateway Arch after. The boys were impressed and couldn’t wait for a chance to go up in it- they would have to wait until Sunday. We arrived at our hotel late but fortunately with the race on Saturday being a night race we had time Saturday morning to play. The boys went for a swim before we met some IndyCar friends for lunch. We walked through a farmers market before meeting at Bogarts Smokehouse for lunch.  Several people at the farmers market noticed our IndyCar gear and mentioned that they were going or wished they could attend the race. One of the owners at Bogart’s came and talked with us saying Fuzzy Zoeller had been in earlier and gave him a bottle of vodka which he then brought out to show us. The entire city was definitely behind this race. I had more people notice my shirt or ask about the race than any other race weekend- including those in Indianapolis.  There was a ton of excitement about the race. 

Sunday morning we visited the top of the Gateway Arch. We could see the track from the top and continued to have people ask us about the race. The boys were a bit freaked out by the size of the capsule that takes you to the top but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. All in all a fun weekend and I haven’t even got to the race portion of our trip. 

But let’s talk about the race. I want to break it down to the event in whole, the race and improvements that need to be made. 

EVENT- our experiences

  • Boys were free since we chose general admission tickets. That gave us the perfect excuse to buy Paddock passes which always make a race more fun. 
  • We saw several drivers and after dragging Helio Castroneves’s book to several races I finally was able to get it autographed. I was stationed outside the Penske trailer having seen Helio go inside. Simon Pagenaud came by and I asked if he would sign Helio’s book because I had not yet been able to get Helio to sign it. I half jokingly asked if he could please send Helio out. Simon responded he would. Sure enough Helio came out shortly and signed my book. He signed very few other autographs while I pulled out my phone for a quick selfie and then he went right back into the trailer. Hmm? Did Simon really tell Helio to come out? Maybe, maybe not, but I like to think he did. 
  • Ran into lots of friends from Twitter.  I enjoy running into Twitter friends just as much as I do the drivers. 
  • Also saw Curt Cavin- who I see enough that he recognizes me. 
  • Met Doug Boles.  
  • Talked with Larry Foyt and told him I thought he should keep Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz on the team next year because of course he would be seeking out my opinion. Lol
  • Boys met Roger Penske. Zach got an autograph and Matthew took a selfie with him. Seriously the selfie is my favorite picture from the weekend. 
  • We sat in row 25 in section 15 (near turn one) for the race. We sat with Lisa, DZ and Kyle so it was fun to be with friends who are fans and understand what is going on. 
  • Zach enjoyed the beginning and end of the race but chose to play on his phone for a big portion of the race. Matthew was a bit more engaged in the racing but still not as excited about racing as his mom. 

RACE

  • So excited for a night race
  • The cars engines started before the command. Not a big deal but very noticeable at the track. It was much less obvious on tv. 
  • Awesome three-wide parade lap. Very cool to see the cars three wide under the lights. 
  • Tony Kanaan spun and hit the wall before the green flag fell. The race started under yellow then Will Power, Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato spun and crashed in turn two just after the green flag was waved.
  • Once the race did get going it was fun to watch but not overly exciting. I haven’t watched the tv broadcast and at the track I could enjoy the view but there wasn’t much passing up front.
  • Helio did take over the lead but then had a bad pit stop and fell back to fourth. 
  • Pagenaud leapfrogged to first during a pit stop under yellow but Josef Newgarden made a bold move that gave him the lead back and he eventually took the checkered flag. Some say it was too bold and even a dangerous move. Pagenaud himself was quite upset and said he lost all respect for Josef. I talked with some strong Pagenaud fans and reminded them of a similar move Pagenaud made on Power. Their response was that when Pagenaud made that move against Power it was on a road course when bumping is not as dangerous and that Josef is damn lucky he didn’t send Pagenaud into the wall or worse. I will admit that got me thinking and I definitely see their point. I don’t pretend to know enough about what is safe and what isn’t to argue either way. It’s racing and you have to make bold moves to do it. Time will tell if Josef is bold or stupid.  He’s been around enough years that I think most agree he is bold but safe. If we see more questionable moves in the future that might change but I think he is respected as a driver and that Pagenaud will come to see that it was just racing. 
  • Chip Ganassi parked TK later in the race. Ok this was interesting. Chip did the same to Max Chilton at Pocono but with Max being a younger driver and down laps it wasn’t as controversial but parking TK when he was able to race along side the others is ridiculous. TK was down two laps but he was not falling farther behind, he just hadn’t been able to make up the two laps he lost from his pre race crash. There is speculation that Chip’s team will be a one car team next year. I can’t imagine that. I have to believe they will have at least two cars. It was a rather shocking decision though. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • The track and weather was beautiful. Such a fun weekend.  The racing could have been better but hopefully the new car next year will change that. 
  • We purchased a Paddock pass for Saturday. The Paddock opened at 3:00 but we could not get our wristband or sign the waiver until it opened so we were waiting in the hot sun for over 30 minutes to get that done. I don’t understand why we couldn’t sign and pick up wristband earlier knowing we would have to wait until 3:00 to enter. 
  • Because I was more interested in seeing drivers and friends we didn’t eat before the race. When we were ready to eat the lines were way too long to wait. I figured once the race started I would send Matthew to get us something. The lines were still too long. Half way through the race Randy went to purchase food. He was gone for at least 45 minutes to buy corn dogs and nachos. The track needs to work on concessions for next year. 
  • After the race and great fireworks show everyone was tired and wanted to leave. I begged them to stay and watch the post race interviews because I knew the parking lot would be nuts but they all insisted they were tired. The parking lot was worse than I imagined. We pulled out about five feet and then didn’t move an inch for almost an hour. Once we did get moving it took about 20-25 more minutes to completely exit. 
  • I think every complaint was about lines being too long, there could be much worse things but the lines were annoying. 
  • End on a positive note- I can’t say enough what a great job the Bommarito group and Gateway  Motorsports Park did to promote the event. I’ve never seen such a great crowd for an oval outside of Indy. Job well done. 

We just learned this morning before my posting that Andretti Autosport will be staying with Honda. They announced it in the best way!  Watch it here!

I’m very pleased with this decision.  

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