Race Day at Road America

I had hoped to wake up early on race day and attend the short devotional that IndyCar Ministry does each race weekend. I’ve never attended one but they start so early and I wasn’t able to motivate myself to get dressed and ready in time to make the meeting. One of these days I will.

I did make the 9:30 meetup with the Elite IndyCar Facebook members. Don Mulder put together the meetup which made it easier for me since I have met Don several times now. It was a nice time to meet so new friends and I was especially grateful because several of the people who read my blog are part of the Elite IndyCar group. It’s a fun group and the admins run several giveaways making it even more fun. The group took a picture and then it was time to be thinking about where to sit for the race.

I walked through the paddock, ran into a few more friends and then made my way to the camper so Zach, Randy and I could get settled before the race began. We decided to watch from Canada Corner and I was surprised to see several open seats when we arrived. It was time for driver introductions so I had thought the area would be packed. Canada Corner isn’t the best place to watch the race from. Many would argue that turn 5 is the preferred spot. Turn 7 is another place we’ve enjoyed watching from in the past. However, from the outside seats in Canada Corner you can see a decent amount of track and you also have a video board to watch. There was shade and plenty of room on the bleachers if you didn’t bring chairs. We started on the bleachers in the sun but then Zach brought our chairs down and we enjoyed a shaded spot in a more comfortable seat. With the help of the video screen and our headset we were able to follow most of the action. Zach was rooting for Alex Palou so he was furious when Alex was taken out. Alex later rejoined the race but was not able to better his position. I was wanting to see Alexander Rossi back on the top step of the podium but he ended up third. Randy was able to see his favorite win and was thrilled with the victory for Josef Newgarden. Josef has now won on a street circuit, an oval and a road course so he was given a 1,000,000 bonus for winning on each different type of track. That made the win even more sweet.

With the race over we made our way to the paddock to see if we could find any drivers. We saw a few but didn’t get any pictures. After we walked up and down the paddock we headed back to the camper. Zach and I both enjoyed a short nap before dinner.

We went into town for dinner and then played a couple rounds of Rummikub in the camper at night. Zach had to work on Monday so we made it an early night so we could pack up and make the drive home before his shift started.

Life got busy when we arrived home and I still haven’t watched the TV coverage of the race. Guess I have that to look forward to on the off weekend we have.

Road America 2022

When I learned I would be able to attend all track days at the Indy 500 for the Month of May, I inquired about getting my media credentials. I was shot down before I could even say what my criteria was. Oh well. A couple friends and fellow bloggers suggested I try to get my credentials for Road America. I did not follow through mostly because I attend Road America with family and didn’t see myself really using them. We camp at RA so I have access to pretty much everything and lots of time at the track. What I wasn’t thinking of though was wifi. Cellular coverage is not great at Road America and we camp near the media center. If I had the password for their wifi I might actually be able to post my blogs and include the pictures I want with it too. I guess I need to try to get them for next year.

We arrived at Road America on Friday around 2:30 pm. We are camping on the front stretch and have a much larger site than we usually do. That didn’t help us though as the camper across from us had their giant motor home with their motorcycle and car parked in front of it. We couldn’t make the swing to back up the camper until they moved their truck. Randy had been bragging about his great parking jobs in past years and we joked that he would struggle this year. He didn’t but the way the neighbors parked made it difficult and we needed them to move. We got it all set though and Randy and Zach picked up the golf cart as I got things set at the site. We then went to watch the first practice.

Zach chose to relax in the camper and Randy and I went to check out some new vantage points. We hadn’t watched from Canada Corner or the carousal in past years. We found great new places and especially love a quiet spot we found in the trees off the carousel. We miss having video screens but love the view and the location. We watched practice and then walked through the paddock after. We caught up with Zach and went to check in with our friends, Joel and Amanda and their kids, we met them our first year here and have met up every year. We talked for a bit and then went back to make dinner. We did our traditional chicken sandwiches. After we walked through the paddock at night after everyone had gone home. It is pretty cool walking through the paddock when no one is around.

Saturday morning we were up and got breakfast going so we could enjoy the track activities. We watched the morning practice from the kettle bottoms. We ran into our friend Kathy while there. After practice we walked through the paddock. The Foyt Team was completely taking Kyle Kirkwood’s car apart. Kyle walked by and I asked what had happened. He said they had a small issue. It didn’t look small to me but the car made it out for qualifying. We got lunch and decided to watch qualifying from the carousel. Zach finally joined us for some track activity. We all had a favorite in the fast six but it was my pick, Alexander Rossi, that won the pole. Good to see Rossi doing well again.

After qualifying we all walked through the paddock. We saw some drivers and met up with our friend, Scott. Scott seems to switch teams every year and this year he is working with HMD on the Indy Lights side. He is really enjoying working with this group and as always it was great to see him and catch up.

As we headed back to the campsite we ran into George Phillips and he said that Susan was resting in the car. I had the boys drop me off so I could catch up with Susan. If you follow Oilpressure.com you know Susan was just released from a two week hospital stay. I’m so thankful she was able to attend Road America and am even more thankful that she is doing well and is cancer free. It was good to spend so time with her and look forward to future races when she is feeling even better.

For dinner we had chicken tacos that had been cooking in the crockpot all day. After dinner I walked over to say hello to the neighbors. I was mildly curious if they were just there for a weekend of drinking or if they followed IndyCar. Turned out it was a group of friends that meet up every year for a race. I’d say they are fans but this weekend was more about them all hanging out. They had their campers facing each other and all enjoyed many good meals. After dinner they provided entertainment and were kind enough to allow us to join in. Two men in the group played guitar and one played the bongos. However, it was Kirk that stole the show. Depending on the song, Kirk played a bucket or a kid xylophone. The video doesn’t show how well it all blended because the xylophone dominates in the video but it was not that way live. It was truly fascinating to watch how a toy xylophone and a bucket could contribute to the music. It was a great night.

I was sitting closer to the xylophone so the video is not as good as being there.

We went to bed around 11:30 knowing we had a fun day planned on Sunday.

2022 Indy 500

I’m sitting here at Road America and am yelling at myself for not writing my post about the Indy 500. I’ve had two weeks but failed to get my post done as I tried to “recover” from my two plus weeks away from home.

For those who know me- I went to bed the night before the 500 seriously wishing I was at home and could be watching on TV. Last year I was called out on social media for not being a true fan because I had only attended the Indianapolis 500 twice in my 50 years of life. Hey everyone has different traditions, for me I’ve been watching from home from 1985-2015. I attended my first 500 in 2015 and my second in 2019. 2022 marked my third 500. This time was different though and I spent 17 nights in Indy. I had an amazing couple of weeks but as I went to bed before the 500 I was wishing I was at home doing my usual routine and enjoying the 500 the way I was accustomed to- from home.

When I woke up in the morning that was not my thought. My mind was on what I needed to pack and get done before we left. That was helpful for not making me feel nostalgic for my regular routine.

We left Lisa’s around 9:30 but traffic was worse than 2015 and we arrived our parking spot later than I wanted. We had planned to hang out and have a drink/tailgate but I felt the need to get to our seats so we headed out as soon as we arrived. We parked outside the North 40 and were sitting in G stand so we had a walk. In 2019 we enjoyed time in the pagoda plaza before the race and we probably had time to do that this year but I felt the need to get to our seats so we walked around on the outside of the track to get to turn two. We had learned in 2019 how awesome the $10 chair back seats were so were purchased those as we neared our seats. The G stand was about half full as we arrived but of course someone was seated right next to our seats and had positioned his seat half way onto ours. I rolled my eyes but fortunately he was awesome and immediately asked if we needed more room and we quickly became friends. In 2019 the G stand had some extra room but there were very few open seats in 2022. Josh was a great seat mate. He might have enjoyed his beverages too much and needed a quick nap mid race but that was just fine. 😂

Who sleeps during the Indy 500?

The weather was about perfect. The sun was warm and the stands were crowded but there was a breeze that kept you from getting way to warm. The prerace ceremony was a highlight as always and reminded me of why it’s also important to attend in person. The tears flowed when they recognized all the military personnel at the track that day. So proud to say my son serves in the Air National Guard. Tears continued during Back Home Again. Then we experienced a surprise. The balloon launch had been cancelled the last few years but some fans in turn two took it upon themselves to do their own balloon launch. There were perhaps 100 balloons. Not so many that it had a huge grand effect but enough to be significant. I heard on Twitter it was enough to concern the Thunderbirds as they did their second flyover. Thankfully it did not cause any problems. I loved it and would like to know more details about how it was set up. I’m guessing next year security will be looking for anything glass and helium tanks.

Honoring our military

The race was a blur because even with a scanner it’s hard to keep track of all the action. I’m still only about halfway through watching the TV coverage. In the end it was Marcus Ericsson that took the twin checkers and drank the milk. Unfortunately, he also dumped the milk on his head. One of these days that tradition will go away when someone finally learns it’s not worth it to smell like sour milk for the rest of the day.

After the race we walked to the infield and discussed the race, reminisced about past years and just as we were talking about James Hinchcliffe we ran into him. We were able to say hello and grab a picture.

We then walked a bit out of our way to visit our friends and enjoyed a dinner they provided. That was a sweet bonus.

Friends forever

We attempted to watch the race that evening but exhaustion set in and we never finished it. We packed up Monday morning and made the drive back to the Chicago burbs. It was a great trip and I still hope to get a post or two out about my other adventures but this is Road America weekend and it’s time to focus on the race this weekend.