Music of the 500

On Monday after I finished my post on qualifying I began a new post (this post) focusing on the songs about the Indianapolis 500 or that we hear during the 500. If I were more tech savvy I would put them all in a download so you could add them to a playlist. Maybe by next year I can figure that out. I had a few songs in mind and googled songs about the Indy 500 to find others. With the post taking shape in my mind I moved forward. I found some songs I liked and added them to my draft. little did I know that Beyond the Bricks would be covering this exact topic on their show.

Lol. Great minds think alike. Not only did Jake Query and Mike Thomsen cover this exact topic on their show Monday night. The song they “liked” the best was the same one I couldn’t wait to share with you. Indianapolis by Menudo is amazing. Well amazingly hysterical. You really need to see the entire video. It is ridiculously hokey and inaccurate in many ways but does speak to the fact that the Indianapolis 500 is a big deal around the globe. This young Puerto Rican band has some good footage of the race and some really awful dancing. However, it’s a new classic in my house. Jake Queary seemed especially fond of it. Make sure to check out the Beyond the Bricks podcast here.

This awesome “classic” by Menudo https://youtu.be/6WcwYOTGuuA

I had originally, before Query and Thomsen stole my thunder 😉🤣, planned to open up with the most iconic song of the Indianapolis 500, sung by the fan favorite, Jim Nabors. When Jim was first asked to sing for the opening ceremony he believed he would be singing the Star Spangled Banner. When he learned he would actually be singing Back Home Again in Indiana he had to write the words on his hand so he wouldn’t forget them. He did such a wonderful job singing he returned for the next 35 years, seldom missing. This song always brings me to tears before the Indianapolis 500. It’s one of my favorite traditions.

https://youtu.be/7wcgaRkHAWY Jim Nabors sings Back Home Again in Indiana for the last time.

In 2014, Jim Nabors sang this iconic song at the brickyard for the last time. After two years the Speedway invited Jim Cornelison to sing. He did what the previous artist couldn’t do and made the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana once again a favorite pre race tradition. Cornelison has a different flair than Nabors but nevertheless the song once again brings a tear to the eye when you hear it. I hope Jim is around for many years at the 500.

https://youtu.be/Og7fgVLj-r8 Jim Cornelison sings Back Home Again in Indiana 2019

The 500 by The Singing Hoosiers is a favorite of mine. While listening to Beyond the Bricks I learned this song was written in 1961. It sounds so much older. I assumed it was written in the 30’s or 40’s. I absolutely love it regardless. It has this great nostalgic feeling to it and makes me smile every time I hear it. As much as Back Home Again might bring a tear to my eye, The 500 makes me smile and I break out my jazz hands. Give it a listen, I’m sure you will love it too.

https://youtu.be/KeBr1WqaxMk The 500 by The Singing Hoosiers

This song about AJ Foyt, I’m not as familiar with but he is my favorite and I needed to include it.

https://youtu.be/FYELYsjCB30 I’m AJ Foyt by Rob McCuen and the Ruins

I learned about this song a couple years ago while working on George Phillips trivia contest. Didn’t win that year but I did this year! Every year George puts out this impossible trivia contest. I spend hours working on it and find other interesting things, like this song about Joe Leonard. I enjoy the contest so much and am especially proud to finally be able to say I’ve won.

https://youtu.be/n14mRnQcXSg The Legend of Joe Leonard

Not nearly as exciting but still a familiar sound is the theme song used by NBC sports for the Indy 500.

https://youtu.be/_K8Ql3zMVmU Indy 500 theme song for NBC sports

Here is the classic introduction with the Delta Force theme song. If this doesn’t get you excited for May, nothing will.

1988-2001 Delta Force theme song intros. https://youtu.be/5d19ISXfiLA

There are many more songs dedicated to the Indy 500 and dozens that reference it. Jake and Mike discuss some of them so again check out their podcast. I hope you enjoyed hearing some of my favorites and I really hope the Menudo video made you smile.

I plan to have another post here Friday. Hopefully Jake and Mike don’t steal that idea too.

If You Haven’t Cried During Qualifying Week You Aren’t Doing It Right

Wow! What a crazy weekend for us in the Nolen house. My oldest son, Matthew, graduated high school and of course the ceremony was right at the start of qualifying. As we sat in the auditorium and waited for the ceremony to start I had one AirPod in so I could listen to qualifying. First thing they did was announce the graduates that would be serving in the military. Matthew enlisted in November with the Air National Guard. Somewhere in the sea of emails we have received from the school about Covid and new procedures and class tardiness due to bad internet connection and Prom and graduation, I missed the one on Senior awards and so Matthew was not recognized during the graduation ceremony. That broke my heart. My son deserves to be recognized for his service and I missed the opportunity to make sure that was done. I was crushed. No mom of the year award for me- again. Thankfully, Matthew was not upset and we are so proud. So after shedding a few tears at graduation we headed home and I turned on qualifying as soon as I was able. By the end of the day we knew the top nine- Dixon, Herta, Kanaan, Carpenter, VeeKay, Castroneves, Palou, Hunter-Reay and Ericsson. We also knew the bottom five- Power, Kimball, De Silvestro, Enerson and Karam.

Listening to qualifying before graduation.

Sunday morning I wrote a predictions and hopes piece for my blog. Read it here. I was fairly close with my predictions and my hopes were crushed.

I also really enjoyed listening to how hopeful and optimistic Charlie Kimball was before his attempt to make the field. What a class act. I really wanted him in the field. I tweeted something out and Curt Cavin quoted my tweet and agreed. I told my husband what Curt said and when Steve responded I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere or making fun of me for liking that Curt agreed with me. Steve responded he was sincere and that it is cool to have the “Voice of The Indy 500” quote your tweet. I explained that Curt Cavin is not the Voice of the Indy 500 and Steve was greatly confused asking isn’t he the guy from Trackside with Kevin Lee. Bless him, he listens as I babble about IndyCar. I explained to Steve who/what/is the voice of the Indy 500 but also loved that Steve knew who Curt Cavin is and is familiar with the title the Voice of the Indy 500. Curt Cavin, in our house you are the “Voice of The Indy 500” and the expert on all things IndyCar. 😉

For those who don’t follow my blog, Steve doesn’t follow IndyCar so it’s just good to know he listens enough to recognize names and phrases.

So after a sleepless night I’m sure for the five drivers fighting for the last three spots it was finally time to see who was in and who was out. The three that made it in were the three I predicted, not the three I hoped for. Sage Karam made the best run and solidified his place in the field. Will Power was slower than Sage and then had a fairly hard hit with the wall. I wrongly assumed that was it for Power and that he would be on the outside looking in. Power amazingly held on to the second spot in the last row. Simona would earn the last spot in the field. Sadly, Charlie Kimball and RC Enerson did not have the speed to make the field. Charlie made the last attempt as Simona watched from her car. When we realized that Charlie did not make it and also that Simona and Paretti Autosport did I started crying. I’m honestly not sure if I was crying tears of sadness for Charlie or joy for Simona. Simona hugged a few crew members but made her way straight to Charlie and gave him a hug. It was a sweet moment. Sure hope to see Charlie back in a car soon and definitely for next years 500.

RC Enerson also had a very good outlook saying this was not the end of their story, referring to himself and the Top Gun Team, but the beginning. The team had nothing but good things to say about RC and they are hopeful to be in a race this season.

We didn’t have much time to let sink in what happened at the bottom of the field before it was time to turn our attention to the top three rows. The shootout for the top 9 cars was about to begin. Probably one of the most frustrating things was pointed out on Twitter by Paul Daly- where is all the data? I was watching on Peacock so I’m not sure if watching on NBCSN would make a difference but speeds and average speeds were shown briefly at best and was hard to follow exactly where cars were tracking. Since NTT data is the primary sponsor you would expect we should have the very best. It wasn’t awful but not as easy to follow as past years with the tracker running on the bottom of the screen.

The fast nine went out and things went as expected. Rinus VeeKay then had a great run and Ed Carpenter fell just behind VeeKay. As the only Chevys I thought perhaps they would top the charts. Tony Kanaan was slower but then Colton Herta was on the provisional pole. I was not rooting for Scott Dixon but when it came down to Herta or Dixon I was pulling for Dixon. Dixon had amazing speed and won the pole. I really wanted TK or one of the Carpenter cars. Colton just has such an easy time and with four wins already I just want to see him have to work for it more. I feel the same about Dixon but being the veteran racer I feel he appreciates it more. I was laughing saying to myself that as much as I currently love VeeKay a day is coming where I will be rooting against him too. Once VeeKay is picked up by Penske or Ganassi and heads down a similar path to Josef Newgarden I will turn my attention to the next young rookie.

So now the field is set for the Indianapolis 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I predict that Scott Dixon will be dominant all day and will be drinking the milk at the end of the 500 miles. I hope though that Tony Kanaan or someone on the Carpenter team gets that honor. As excited as I am for race day, I’m already feeling a bit let down as my tv is silent and I’m missing the long practice days. It’s for the best as I have a graduation party to prepare for but still miss the constant roar of the engines.

I hope everyone has a good week as we prepare for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Check back for a couple posts during the week to help build our excitement. Thanks for reading.

My Predictions and My Hopes

As we await the final day of Qualifying we find five drivers on the outside looking it. No one ever suspected one of those drivers would be Team Penske driver, Will Power. Power is joined by sage Karam, Simona De Silvestro, RC Enerson and Charlie Kimball.

Prediction– Power, Simona and Karam will make the field and Enerson and Kimball will be left out.

Hope- Simona, Karam and Kimball are in. Nothing against Will Power but I love a good upset. Also hopeful that RC will have a chance to return and make the field next year.

The Fast Nine include Scott Dixon, Colton Herta, Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Alex Palou, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marcus Ericsson.

Prediction- Scott Dixon wins the pole, Alex Palou starts 9th. Honestly, with the exception of Palou moving to ninth and bumping RHR and Ericsson up a spot I think the fast nine will look pretty much the same.

Hope- Tony Kanaan wins the Pole. Helio, Ed and Rinus take spots 2-4, Herta, Palou and Ericsson take spots 5-7, Dixon gets 8 and RHR is 9th.

I think my predictions will be pretty close unless something crazy happens. My hopes need the crazy to happen for them to come about. It is Indy though- anything can happen.

Known Fact- It will be an exciting, fun day for 33 drivers and thousands of fans. It will be a heartbreaking day for two drivers and thousands of fans will feel that heartbreak with them. No one wants to be left out of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Sights, Sounds and Smells of Indy

I’m not sure why but I was very aware of the sounds and smells while at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this last weekend. Ironically IMS asked on Twitter today which is more important to you the sight or sound of the cars. Most responded that they go hand in hand. I agree I’m incredibly thankful I don’t have to choose and also that I am able to enjoy all my senses but I did wonder what was most important the sights or the sounds. Of course somewhere in the mix is the smells. They add a lot to the experience.

Edit- since I first started writing this piece I’ve seen so many people mention the smells. I guess after not being able to attend last year we are all so appreciative of all the ways the Speedway touches our senses. There is nothing quite like the smell of IndyCars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sights

  • The enormity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Cars flying by
  • Flowers moving in the wind created by the cars from cameras during the broadcast.
  • The beautiful Pagoda
  • The improvements Roger Penske has made from paint to flowers.
  • Blue sky- or clouds moving in.
  • Twitter or Facebook updates
  • Flags waving, both from the stands and more importantly from the flag stand.
  • Massive crashes and seeing drivers walk away uninjured.
  • Balloon release
  • Flyover
  • Winners drinking the milk.

Sounds

  • The cars
  • The cars
  • The cars (c’mon we all love the sound)
  • Public address
  • Play by play on radio
  • Cheering
  • Flyover
  • Crashes
  • Taps- the crowd is silent
  • Back Home Again in Indiana
  • Command to start engines
  • The cars 😉🏎

Smells

Okay I’m not good at describing the smells but between the heat on the pavement when you arrive, the smell of the ethanol and tires as you enter the track and of course the concessions there is nothing quite like it. I breathe it all in deeply. I’ve been to a monster truck event and the exhaust is way to suffocating but when outdoors and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the smell of the ethanol, along with the rubber on the track is diluted by enough fresh air to make it the perfect mix. I inhale deeply and feel my stress melt away on my exhale. I love the smells of IndyCar just as much as the sights and sounds.

So I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you love the most? Thank goodness most of us are able to enjoy them all, including feel and taste. Hope you get to enjoy them this beautiful Month of May!

Race Day in May- GMR Grand Prix

Matthew is glad to be done with High School.

We arrived in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon just in time for qualifying for the GMR Grand Prix. It was Matthew’s last day of High School so we did not leave as early as we would have liked. He couldn’t miss his last day. Of course traffic around Chicago didn’t help and we were even rerouted around Lafayette. It was all worth it to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We met up with Lisa and made our way to the box seats near turn one of the oval. It was a perfect day to be watching cars on track. Such a fun qualifying day. Not the usual suspects in the fast six and eventually it was Romain Grosjean on the pole. Josef Newgarden, Jack Harvey, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin and Conor Daly were the top six. So fun.

We then left the track and enjoyed a glass of wine at the Foyt Vault before dinner at the pizza place in the building that had been the 1911 grill. The pizza was great.

Back to Lisa’s house where we met her sweet pup, Spike. Lots of catching up and then getting ready for race day.

Saturday- race day

Arrived at track around noon and made our way to the Pagoda Plaza. Spent time there talking with friends, old and new. Caught up with Mike Silver and took plenty of photos. As we neared the time for the green flag we made our way to our seats. We sat in the Northwest Vista. The seats were great.

So as we settled in for the start of the race the boys grabbed a Mountain Dew and cherry pepsi. Lisa had some cinnamon whiskey and I was the classy one with a box (small) of wine. Makes me laugh every time but I do enjoy it.

Green flag dropped and no big surprise that we had an accident in the first turn. Sadly, Conor Daly was involved as his step dad, Doug Boles, watched from nearby. Conor seems to have the worst luck. Grosjean was not involved and was able to maintain the lead. I haven’t watched the race on TV yet but believe that after Grosjean’s first pit stop he came out in front of Rinus VeeKay but Veekay was on warmer tires and made it passed Grosjean.

The race continued without any more yellow flags. As I was watching I realized I could see way down to the seats in turn one of the oval where I sat with Matthew for his first trip to the speedway. I let me eyes wander to the main straight where I sat with my dad on my first trip. We watched AJ Foyt retire and take his final lap on the track. I teared up thinking of those special times and looked to my boys thankful that we were back home again in Indiana enjoying our May traditions.

After some time reflecting I turned my attention back to the race. I love listening in on my scanner and I have to say listening to the Television broadcast team during their commercial breaks is great. You never know what you might hear. This time it was Paul Tracy singing Milli Vanilli Blame it on the Rain. A couple sprinkles fell but not enough to change the race outcome. I usually love a rain race but with Rinus leading I didn’t want anything to mess that up. The racing itself wasn’t edge of your seat racing but it was for me as I cheered for Rinus. I have quickly become a fan of this young driver and was even wearing my VeeKay shirt. I was just counting down the laps and hoping he would win. After 85 laps Rinus VeeKay did take the checkered flag and won his first IndyCar race. I’m guessing he heard my cheers from the other end of the track. I was thrilled.

Five races and five winners. Just another thing I love about IndyCar. My boys enjoyed the race and we all hung out a bit after watching the interviews on the video boards. Eventually though it was time to leave and we headed out. I’m not sure when Matthew will return with us to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but I know he will. It’s a tradition they enjoy and while college and the Air National Guard might not allow visits in the next few years we will be trying our best every year to return.

We enjoyed a lazy night and prepared for our usual Mother’s Day traditions a week late.

Sunday- My Mother’s Day

We always celebrate Mother’s Day in Indy so this year we just postponed our day. We went to Charlie Browns for breakfast where we stuffed ourselves. We then went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum and happened to walk in right behind Ryan Hunter-Reay. I recognized his voice before I saw him and said hello. He didn’t respond so I called to him twice more- he was less than two feet from me. He didn’t even turn around. I just rolled my eyes and the boys and I laughed. We have never had a kind response from RHR. We even met him in the back of a grocery store when he was doing an autograph session. I thought he’d be thrilled that someone sought him out. We had our 500 tickets with his picture. He barely acknowledged us. As much as I brag about the IndyCar drivers to others and how accessible they are. Hunter-Reay does not belong in that category. He was there with Becky and the kids and the kids were fun to watch as they found their dads picture on the winners wall but Ryan continued to be Ryan. Needless to say our impression of him did not change. I understand wanting to be with your family and not be interrupted by fans but Ryan doesn’t do himself any favors by being so aloof.

I’ve been watching since 1985.

After enjoying the exhibits I talked with many of the workers to try and get some help on George Phillips Trivia contest. Then the boys went to buy my Mother’s Day gift. We decided on Paul Page’s new book and then went to the clearance shop to look there. On our way in we ran into George and Susan Phillips. We talked, took pictures and I even had George take a look at my answers so far. He just told me a few I needed to double check and said he heard them talking in the museum about the questions. He told two of the answers to them so I ventured back in to also learn those answers later. I’m afraid I kept George and Susan talking too long and hope I didn’t delay their drive home by too much. I am grateful to run into them though. Susan has been battling (and winning) pancreatic cancer and it was good to see her and even pray with her and George. Their story and positive outlook is inspiring. Today they actually are celebrating their wedding anniversary and that is a fun story too. Check out their blog at Oilpressure.com.

Matthew, Zachary and I grabbed a few more pictures and our traditional whatchamacallit candy bars for the drive home. We laughed and joked about past trips, favorite racers and our silly traditions. It was exactly as Mother’s Day should be.

Mother’s Day is best at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Growing up my family never made a big deal over Mother’s Day. We did have a family gathering but it was more about family than celebrating the moms. My mom also did not expect much more than a card or homemade craft and we never went overboard with the preparation for the day.

Once I was married and Steve and I began planning a family Mother’s Day drastically changed for me. In November 2000 I suffered a miscarriage. I had a second miscarriage in March 2001. I hated Mother’s Day in 2001. No one acknowledged that I was a mom or what I had gone/was going through. In January 2002 our daughter was stillborn. Once again I dreaded Mother’s Day.

In February 2003 our son, Matthew, was born. As Mother’s Day came around I was emotionally in a better place but still frustrated remembering past hurts. Zachary was born in November 2004. I don’t even remember that Mother’s Day with two little ones demanding all my attention. What I do know though is that every year I expected more and was always disappointed. No one necessarily did any wrong but I was putting too much expectation on the day and was usually frustrated with everyone by the end of the day. One year both boys brought me home plants from school. Matthew promptly knocked his over in the car, spilling dirt everywhere. Zach managed to get his into the house but then the cat ate it and threw up on the carpet. Ugh! This is not how I imagined Mother’s Day to be.

In 2014 I changed the way we celebrated Mother’s Day. We went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural GP of Indy. The race was on Saturday and on Sunday, Mother’s Day, the track was open for the first practice on the oval. Very few people were at the track. We ran into a few friends, watched cars and had a wonderful day. I loved it!

For the next few years it became our tradition to spend Mother’s Day at IMS. Sunday was no longer the first day of oval practice but we still made it work. 2015-2019 we would start our day with a delicious breakfast at Charlie Browns. After we would go to the IMS museum. While there we would work on George Phillips (Oilpressure.com) trivia contest. The boys would laugh at me asking everyone I saw if they knew the answers. After we saw all there was to see and questioned everyone I could we would look through the gift shops. When we entered the sale shop I would point out a few things I liked, give the woman working a few directions and leave the store. The boys would pick out some gifts for me. They would be rung up and placed in bags. I then returned and paid for them. We would then exit the store and the boys would present my gifts to me by the fountain outside the museum. As they got older they made the purchases themselves surprising me with much more than I ever expected. Perhaps one of my favorites was a Justin Wilson print. It was way to expensive and when I told the boys that they disagreed saying the money was going towards the Wilson children’s fund so it was worth it. I still smile remembering that day. Over the years we have become friends with Brenda, who often works in the sale store and she enjoys seeing us every year and laughs remembering the young boys she first met.

I absolutely love our Mother’s Day tradition. I never feel let down or disappointed, I plan the day and am at my favorite place. The boys have grown to love our tradition too. Last year was extremely disappointing to not be able to attend a race weekend on Mother’s Day. This year we are postponing Mother’s Day one week. We had my mom over for lunch and had a sweet time but if anyone wished me a Happy Mother’s Day I reminded them that I would be celebrating next weekend.

I can’t wait to have our traditional Mother’s Day weekend. My oldest son, Matthew, has enlisted in the Air National Guard. He was due to have a drill weekend and wasn’t going to make the race. He just turned 18 and will be graduating, I was so disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to join us. Who knows if he will be able to next year between college and the ANG. So unfair to miss last year and then have this year also not work out. Well Matthew received word that the Guard weekend was cancelled and he will be joining us after all. That is all this mama wanted. I can’t wait for a race weekend with my boys.

So if you hear a crazy lady wishing all the moms a Happy Mother’s Day next week, just laugh and know it’s me celebrating at my favorite place with my wonderful sons the way we like to celebrate. I learned that Mother’s Day doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone and the day still brings some hurt for me but I’ve found a way to make it special for us and a tradition I hope will continue for many years to come. I’m sure the college years will change it up a bit but hope for a return as the boys settle down. Eventually, when grandchildren are added to the mix it will be even sweeter.

It’s the Month of May!

Is it May yet? Yes! What a month it has been and cars haven’t even hit the yard of bricks yet. So unlike last year, this May if full of anticipation for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 and so much has already happened before cars and teams have even arrived in Indy. Let look at what has already happened this May.

Always fly my IMS flag in May

May 1 – Before we can get too excited about the Indy 500 we had a double header at Texas. The Genesys 300 took place on Saturday. Scott Dixon won the race and is now only one race behind Mario Andretti for wins. It was Dixon’s 51st win.

May 2- The Xpel 350 was a slightly longer race than Saturday’s. It appeared perhaps Scott Dixon would tie Mario Andretti when he took the lead early in the race but it the end Dixon was fourth and Pato O’Ward earned his first IndyCar win.

Both races were enjoyable. I perhaps enjoyed race one more than others having picked Dixon for my fantasy league. I am again leading. The race itself though wasn’t overly exciting but a couple yellows and watching oval rookie Scott McLaughlin earn a second place win was enough to keep my attention. Race two started with a huge crash. Poor Conor Daly took the green flag, passing the start finish line upside down. Thankfully no one was injured. Sebastien Bourdais was involved again and was out of both races due to someone hitting him from behind. It was a tough weekend for Bourdais and the Foyt team.

After a fun start to May we learn of some sad news. Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser has passed away at age 87. Unser is one of only 10 drivers to have won the 500 3 times. He was also the winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 13 times. It is said everyone has an Uncle Bobby story but sadly I do not. I never had the opportunity to meet the man. He will be missed in the racing community. I expect there will be a nice tribute to him during the 105th Indianapolis 500 broadcast.

May 3- Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee begins nightly shows for the month of May. If you don’t already listen to this radio show I highly recommend it. You can easily listen at your convenience to the podcast. It’s a great way to keep up on the latest news. My boys laugh at me all the time as I join right in to the conversation talking back and asking questions that can’t be heard but yet are still often answered. That’s been especially true the last few days as I keep asking if Stefan Wilson will be in the 500. That one was answered.

After Trackside a new show called Beyond the Bricks will take the place of The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Now everyone knows that no one can replace the incredible knowledge and stories that Donald Davidson would share on Toga but since Donald has decided to retire a new show was started. I’ve only made it about half way through the first show so all I can really say so far is I’m grateful to Jake Query, who hosts alongside Mike Thompson for saying a heartfelt thank you to Donald from everyone who enjoyed the show. I have so enjoyed learning of the history of the 500 and fun extra stories when Donald would go off on a tangent. It was like sitting at your grandpas knee and he shared about the old times. I’m grateful for the podcasts so the wealth of knowledge Donald had will not be forgotten. I’m looking forward to listening more to Beyond the Bricks but will miss The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Donald, enjoy your retirement.

May 4- We learn some great news on Star Wars day. Stefan Wilson will return to Andretti Autosport with Lohla Sport for the 105th Indianapolis 500. As huge fans of Stefan’s late brother Justin we have always enjoyed following Stefan’s career. We’ve been fortunate to meet him on several occasions and found him to be just as kind and genuine as his brother. When he lead in the 102nd 500 I’m sure many heard my cheers. Hoping for great things for him this year.

Another amazing thing happened on the 4th. Robert Wickens was back in a race car. He drove sport car equipped with hand controls and was able to put his visor down and do what he loves best- drive fast. Wickens still hopes to return to IndyCar but is open to Formula E or Sports cars. I can’t wait for the day he is racing again.

So now as we have some time off before the GMR Grand Prix of Indy I’m guessing we won’t really noice as news will keep rolling in and excitement builds before fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It’s May folks! The most wonderful time of the year! This year we get to enjoy it.

That’s How You Start The Season

I absolutely loved the IndyCar season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. Part of that may have been because I picked Alex Palou to win in my fantasy league but honestly it was just a fun race.

After a longer than usual off season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NTT IndyCar Series had their season opening race this last weekend. The race drew a bit more attention thanks to NASCAR veteran turned IndyCar rookie, Jimmie Johnson. The other two rookies in the field while not quite as popular also drew new fans to IndyCar. Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean might be rookies in IndyCar but have made their mark in the racing world. Many were watching to see how they would do in the race. Pato O’Ward won the pole position was is very eager to win his first race. Alexander Rossi is looking to make 2021 a much better season than 2020. Drivers on new teams are looking to prove themselves. It was going to be an interesting race.

What no one expected was that it would be a Penske driver and two time champion that causes a big accident on the first lap. Josef Newgarden got loose and sadly chaos followed. Ryan Hunter-Reay was caught up in the crash and finished last in the race. Newgarden finishes 23rd. James Hinchcliffe who did not have a qualifying speed and started last was also caught up in it. He continued to race but was never a factor. Jimmie Johnson made his way through but then causes a second yellow to come out later when he spun. He was able to keep the car going and finished the race in 19th. I prefer when the NASCAR guys struggle a bit. I think it makes them appreciate IndyCar more. Johnson has been very respectful and willing to learn. I usually don’t like the nascar guys but Jimmie is quickly growing on me. I feel he will figure out how to drive these cars and we will see improvement.

Sebastien Bourdais, driving for AJ Foyt Racing, started 16th but worked his way up to 5th. I’m hoping this is a start for much better things for the Foyt team. Bourdais will be one to watch in St. Pete having won there twice before.

Pit strategy played a big part in the race and kept things interesting once the yellow flags ceased. Sometimes the races can become a game of follow the leader when no yellows are there to mix things up. Because drivers were on different pit strategies it left some possibilities open for how the race would play out. In the end though, Will Power and Scott Dixon were not able to catch Alex Palou on track or work their team magic in the pits to move in front. Palou led 56 of the 90 lap race and won the race.

Even though Palou had a sizable lead it was an edge of your seat kinda race for me. With Power and Dixon just seconds behind and Palou being a fairly new guy it could still be anyone’s race. I was ecstatic when Palou won. I always love seeing new winners even when they are driving for a winning team. Also, as stated above, I picked Alex for my fantasy league. Newgarden was the popular pick in my league. I knew Alex would be an unpopular pick but if he pulled it out I would be leading the league and I’m happy to say I am. One other person also picked Alex but my pick was placed first putting me in the number one position. I will savor this while I can. I’m sure after next week I will find myself mid pack again.

All in all in was such a fun season opener. Barber Motorsports Park is beautiful- even on the TV. IndyCar is back and we go nonstop for the next few weeks. Alex Palou won his first race. All is well with the world. Ok not exactly but we are seeing glimpses of normal again and that is wonderful. Fans were able to attend and it looks like that will be the case moving forward, although in limited capacity.

St. Pete will be kicking off in a few days and then we mix things up this year with Texas appearing before the 500. Texas will be a double header before we enter the month of May. Of course May looks to be exciting with a true bump day and I’m eager to find out who might be in the last Andretti car. While listening to Trackside today Kevin Lee mentioned that Oriol Servia would not be in the Andretti car and speculation over who it could be began. My mind immediately went to a favorite of mine- Stefan Wilson. Loved hearing Kevin also bring up his name. Nothing would make me happier than having Stefan in the 500.

Thank you for reading. I’m looking forward to the 2021 season and plan to attend at least a couple races. Our first should be the Indy GP in May.

Bonus- Just before I was ready to publish my post a package arrived form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I took advantage of some last season sales. Two shirts with the 2020 season that did not happen on the back. Simon Pagenaud’s Indy 500 car and one more piece everyone should have, a Mario Andretti bobble head. It was a steal, less than $3 and I love adding it to my IndyCar shelf.

Bob Jenkins

While sitting in the airport I learned some sad news. My family had just spent a wonderful weekend in Fort Myers Beach for my sons 18th birthday. We fly space available so Steve and the boys made it on the flight home but there weren’t enough seats so I was stuck at the airport. Between checking the status on my next flight several times I scrolled through Facebook and learned that Bob Jenkins has brain cancer.

Doug Boles has a new online show called Behind the Bricks. I hadn’t yet listened to the first episode but immediately listened to the second one to learn Bob’s news.

Bob woke up on Christmas night with a horrible headache and went to the ER. At first he was diagnosed with a stroke but it became evident that he had two malignant tumors on his brain. He will be undergoing both chemo and radiation to fight this battle. While he hopes to do some work for the public address at the Indy 500 it will be a greatly reduced role. He is hopeful he will beat the cancer and calls on his fellow fans of the 500 to lift him up in prayer. I ask that of you too.

I would guess that I first became a fan of Bob when I watched the IndyCar races on Versus. I’ve always enjoyed the races he has called and he felt like family when I heard his voice. While I didn’t start watching the full series until the early 2000’s I had been following the 500 since 1985 so I was familiar with Bob and it made following the season an easy transition for me. I’ve loved when he emceed the 500 banquets and always tune in for the qualifying draw for the 500. In more recent years we have even been able to hear Bob at Gateway Motorsports Park. He is a huge part of what I love about IndyCar and I always smile when I hear his voice. When I hear his voice as I enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I get chills. He is as big a tradition for me as other pre race ceremonies.

While watching Behind the Bricks, Bob admitted he can cry at the drop of a hat. It was about all I could do to not cry as I learned the news in the airport.

Bob, prayers have been and will be said for you. Thank you for making my IndyCar and Indy 500 experiences so special. I know that will continue. I believe you will win this battle and we will enjoy many more 500’s in the future. Thank you for sharing this news with your racing family. I will be praying.

“There is nothing like Bob Jenkins voice to make a race fan feel they are in the right spot in the month of May.”- Doug Boles

First Trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

For some their first introduction to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is on a qualifying or race day and they are immediately in aww of the sounds and speed. My introduction was a bit slower – pun intended. I was reading a book, an AJ Foyt biography to be specific and my very first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was to visit the museum and take a track tour. Well today for the very first time my husband Steve visited the Speedway. Not sure he enjoyed it as much as me but he did have a fun time.

I’ve been a fan of AJ and the Indianapolis 500 since 1985. I first visited the Speedway with my dad in 1992 for a museum and track tour and followed that up in 1993 with a trip to time trials. In 2008 I returned with my son Matthew for qualifying and have returned every year for either qualifying, the GP of Indy or the Indianapolis 500. In 2010 my son Zach joined us and 2015 was our first Indy 500.

My husband, Steve, has never been a fan but we can usually get him to watch the start of a race at home on tv or listen to our stories. Today I finally got him to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the very first time. November 6th I turned 50 and we planned a trip to the Smokey Mountains to celebrate. I decided we would take our time driving down and spend the night in Indy so we could visit the track and experience some of my favorite things. Steve agreed.

We arrived in Indianapolis around 1:30 pm. We drove straight to the Speedway and went into the museum to purchase tickets. We did both the museum and the track tour. Similar to what my dad and I had done 28 years ago. We went on the track tour first.

I had a hard time not telling Steve all the facts before the tape of Bob Jenkins did so. I knew exactly what would be said but I just mouthed the words and with masks on no one noticed. I love getting out on the track and feeling the banking. The bus goes so stinking slow, I don’t need to go fast but I’d love to be able to do at least 60. Then I feel the bus goes too fast. I want to take in every sight and sound. If I had my way you would walk it, drive around slow and then drive around fast(ish) but no one asks me how the tour should go. The bus stops at the yard of bricks and you can get out and kiss the bricks if you like. I told Steve we could pretend to kiss the bricks but that right is reserved for winners and we wouldn’t be kissing them. That was fine by Steve he didn’t even want to get down on the ground after having torn his hamstring off the bone this summer.

Is this good enough?

I was willing to pretend letting my lips hover just above the bricks.

We finished our bus tour and went into the museum. Currently the museum is running an Andy Granatelli exhibit. I have read Andy’s biography years ago and he is from Chicago so I was glad to be able to catch this exhibit while we were in town. We learned some fun facts and Steve really appreciated hearing how Andy and his brothers got their start by helping neighbors on city streets whose cars wouldn’t start on a cold morning. These were guys with a passion and Steve could appreciate that. I think it’s safe to say that Andy Granatelli was a very passionate guy, from his flamboyant suits sporting his STP sponsor to his slobbery kiss to Mario Andretti after his 1969 win. The Granatelli story is a good one of the little guy finding his American dream.

I loved showing Steve some of my museum favorites, the Marmon Wasp, the pictures of all the winners and even Clark Gable enjoying the race from turn one. We watched the movie, took pictures and looked for our favorite drivers on the Borg-Warner trophy. It was a good visit.

Even though we drove in I had to snap the traditional picture we take as we walk through the tunnel and into the Speedway.

Steve refused to stand in the sun ☀️

After our trip to IMS we went onto Main Street so we could stop at the Foyt Vault. Steve does not enjoy wine but I do and since AJ is my favorite I especially enjoy a Foyt wine. Steve had a coke and we loved the bread basket with dipping sauces. I retold several of our AJ and Larry stories and even the time we met Dave Furst at the Vault. Steve has heard them all a thousand times but he patiently listened as I told them again.

We then went to my dear friend Lisa’s house where we are spending the night. Lisa is always so gracious to let us spend time here even when she is out of town. It is so appreciated.

After a short rest we headed back to Main Street for dinner at Dawson’s on Main. I love calamari steak and of course we had to get a tenderloin sandwich. After dinner we walked over to see the Speedway at night before heading back to Lisa’s. A wonderful way to celebrate my 50th birthday.

I wonder how you were introduced to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? With all the sights and sounds of cars on track or a quieter version like Steve and I?