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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    Finally catching up on Iowa

    George Phillips recently wrote a Blog Post and graciously mentioned my sleepy little blog. That was just the kick I needed to get me to my iPad to catch up on a couple posts I’ve been wanting to write. One of the benefits of being a blogger is there are no deadlines to get articles out. That same benefit can also be a drawback as it makes it easy to push things off until tomorrow. I enjoy blogging and I especially enjoy sharing thoughts with the friends I’ve made through Twitter and IKissed The Bricks so hopefully I won’t be too much of a procrastinator in the future. 

    Iowa- I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa race with two girlfriends. My long time friend, Kristen, hasn’t attended a race since the 2014 Milwaukee race. We were glad we could finally find a race weekend that worked for us.  Kristen is not a big IndyCar fan but does enjoy attending the races. We met up with my Twitter friend, Lisa, and had a wonderful time at the race. 

    Kristen and I arrived at Iowa Speedway shortly before qualifying on Saturday afternoon. We bought tickets for qualifying at the gate because they charged a service fee online- well they charged the same service fee at the gate so that was disappointing. I really don’t understand, just say the tickets cost $20. Kinda frustrating. Then we learned that the Fan Walk is not included in the ticket price and that would be an additional $10. It was actually quite confusing. An entrance ticket is needed to access the Fan Walk- we had that. You can access the Fan Walk for free before the stands open but once the stands open you need an additional band to access the Fan Walk. So while it sounds like the Fan Walk is open to anyone with a ticket it actually isn’t with the exception of those who arrive before the stands open. From what we could see the Fan Walk just allowed you to walk a small portion of the infield behind the pit wall. We just didn’t feel it was worth the extra money. There was an additional charge for a Paddock pass. I do believe if you spent the $30 for the Paddock pass you could also access the Fan Walk. Oh well surely we can find plenty to occupy our time. Well not really. Saturday afternoon had only a few booths set up. We went to the Firestone tent thinking we would be silly and get an airbrush tattoo but on Saturday they only offered rub on tattoos. Very little to see or do in the tents. Qualifying was fun though. It was a warm day but we caught up with Mike Silver and watch qualifying. It was actually quite exciting as each car bumped the last one off the pole. Many were surprising but as Will Power was one of the last to go out it ended up not being a big surprise in the end. Will Power won the pole position and I frowned saying I’ve seen this race before. Seems Power has a way of winning the pole at many of the races I attend. Oh well fingers crossed we will see someone other than the pole winner win the race on Sunday. 

    Kristen and I got a fantastic deal on our hotel, unfortunately it was nearly an hour from the track. We headed to our hotel and met up with Lisa for dinner. We enjoyed a fantastic BBQ meal at Wobbly Boots and enjoyed a fun girls night out. When we returned to the hotel the pool was overrun with a baseball team so we skipped the pool. 

    Race Day- Arrived at the track at noon. We met Lisa and thankfully had more options and tents to visit on race day. We planned to enjoy an ear of corn but the complimentary corn was gone in less than ten minutes. Another disappointment- it’s called the Iowa Corn 300. Chevy was providing free corn from noon- two o clock and they were out of corn in less than ten minutes- they didn’t plan that one well. Firestone was also out of some of their freebies. They did have the airbrush tattoos though. We didn’t want to wait in line though so we passed. We bought some souvenirs, watched the Lights race, enjoyed a beer with Mike and eventually made it to our seats for the race. The crowd was okay but I know the crowds were much bigger when the race was a Saturday night race. We would have preferred that too. 

    I still haven’t watched the tv broadcast of the race and it was especially hard to follow on such a small track. The leaders flew by and were mixed into traffic.  So rather than go through the whole race I will touch on the two things that stuck out to me. The red flag and Helio winning. 

    Red Flag– It was so hot in the stands and I kept an eye on the sky hoping for a stray cloud to block the sun. Even before the clouds rolled in we felt a couple rain drops. Nothing significant and I was honestly surprised when they threw the yellow flag. I couldn’t imagine there was enough moisture to warrant a yellow. However, as they continued running under yellow and laps were ticking away as clouds built I wondered how his would play out. The radar looked like we could get a significant amount of rain but before it made it to the track it dissapaited. So did we need the red?  No not for safety I don’t believe we did. However, it was the wise decision because way too many laps would have been run under yellow had the red flag not been thrown. I rather the cars stop and wait to then they can really race once the threat has passed. I support the decision for the red flag. It might not have shown well on TV but from where I was sitting and watching the radar I think it was the right decision and once the threat passed we went right back to racing. 

    Helio wins- In all the races I’ve attended I only saw Helio win once at Chicagoland. Kristen and I left that race believing Scott Dixon won and didn’t learn until we watched the news at night that Helio had actuwon so we missed seeing him climb the fence. There has been a lot of talk recently that Helio might be racing sports cars next year and no longer participating in I dyCar full time. I’m so grateful we were able to see him climb the fence. I’m also thankful that if this is his last year he was able to get another win before leaving. All that said, Helio is second in points, a race winner and pole winner- he needs to be in IndyCar again next year. 

    We lingered in the stands and watched the victory celebration before saying goodbye to Lisa and driving to the hotel. Kristen and I enjoyed a delicious Mexican meal and finally got to swim in the pool. Helio was Kristen’s pick to win the race so she won the bragging rights and hopefully will continue to attend more races in the future. She doesn’t always understand my passion for IndyCar but I will discuss that more in my next post. 

    Still trying to figure out Texas!

    As many of you know we are currently on vacation. We traveled to Phoenix, visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park before flying home from Vegas. We are staying in a rental home near Zion but unfortunately they did not have NBCSN as part of their cable package. I watched on my NBCSN app but at least three times it completely froze up and I had to restart it which took forever. I was also watching from my iPad so not my preferred way to watch. However, I was able to watch so I’m thankful because I never would have believed that race if I had not seen it. I’m still shaking my head over it. 

    So you all know what happened so I will just give my two cents on a couple of things and you can let me know if you agree or disagree. One thing I know we can all agree on-Texas is always interesting. 

    Tristan Vautier- wow!  Tristan qualified well (5th) and was so fun to watch race. He led laps and held his own With the full time drivers. I’m so glad he was able to fill in for Bourdais and hope we see more of him. Unfortunately, he was caught up in “the big one” and that ended his day. Dale Coyne Racing didn’t need that accident which took out both their cars but they are super impressive.  I can’t understand why sponsors aren’t calling them begging to be on their cars. Love this team. 

    Helio Castroneves- Helio hit the wall but it didn’t look too bad to me. A hard hit of course but like most others. Then it took a long time for him to get out of the car. He was fine, checked and cleared by medical and tweeting later in the race from his hotel but I think that was a bigger impact than most. 

    Ryan Hunter-Reay- RHR was also caught up in “the big one”. He was fine but in his post crash interview he said too many inexperienced drivers were making stupid moves and he couldn’t trust them enough to pass them. WHO IS HE TALKING ABOUT?  I know I don’t see all that is going on and don’t understand all the intricacies of racing but i didn’t see anything out of the norm. Who had him freaked out?  

    The Big One- Around lap 150 Tony Kanaan (inside), James Hinchcliffe (middle) and Mikhail Aleshin (outside) were three wide. TK went high giving Hinchcliffe no where to go with Mikhail on his outside.  Hinchcliffe ping ponged between the two cars before spinning taking many others with him- both Coyne Cars, RHR, Aleshin, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Carlos Munoz and perhaps others I’m forgetting. Twitter immediately exploded placing blame- Hinchcliffe caused it, no Aleshin he was the last to join the three wide he should have backed out and TK was blamed too for not holding a lower line. There was so much carnage that a red flag was thrown- that was the right call. Dale Coyne immediately went down to the cars on pit lane and began yelling at Tony Kanaan. I understand he was upset. Twitter and the broadcast kept rehashing who was at fault. Chip Ganassi when asked if TK was at fault defended his driver. That drove Twitter even more nuts. I honestly thought Chip had a fine response. You don’t want to incriminate your driver especially at that time when the accident was still under review. However, Chip did not need to throw Hinchcliffe under the bus saying Hinchcliffe has been trying to get in an accident all race.  When Hinchcliffe was told of Chips comments Hinchcliffe replied, “that’s adorable”. I think IndyCar fans will be using that term for years to come. Hinchcliffe was much more kind saying he is sure TK did not do that on purpose and in post race interviews TK apologized and said of course he never means to take anyone out. Wow! A lot of drama over a race accident. Cmon people it was Tony Kanaan. He’s been racing in IndyCar for 20 years. He was racing and you have to go for it when racing or else there is no point in being there. He obviously did not get info from his spotters or did not understand that he had two cars on the outside. Yes I think Tony caused the accident and perhaps he deserved the penalty- he had to stop in his pit box for 20 seconds but he didn’t do it on purpose and we all know he doesn’t race reckless. As I said a lot of drama. 

    Mandatory cautions- Seriously what in the world is this? Sometime after the accident or during the red flag Firestone and Race Control decided that because the tires were blistering and were possibly unsafe there would be a mandatory caution after every 30 laps of green flag racing. Okay I don’t always agree with calls that IndyCar makes but this one was ridiculous. I want the drivers to be safe. I don’t want to push things when we know we have unsafe conditions but there is a much easier way to solve this– change your tires within thirty laps or be penalized.  How is this different than needing gas. There is no caution because the cars will eventually run out of gas- the teams and drivers just know they need to come in and do so under green flag conditions. They could have pit to change tires and done so when they wanted as long as it was within a thirty lap window. Why? Why did it have to be under a caution?  I will never understand that or agree with it. Hopefully Curt and Kevin can offer some insight but I think it was ridiculous. So the cautions came out and there was still some confusion about them and everyone was required to stop but somehow through other yellows I suppose TK was able to get back on the lead lap.  I think the stupid mandatory cautions actually ended up helping him make up the penalty he was given Hmm? Such a weird race. 

    Last yellow- With just a few more laps and only a handful of cars on track- 11 I believe, we had one more accident. Sato went into the grass and ended up losing control and taking himself and another car or two out with him. I honestly don’t remember who all was caught up in it but I thought to myself that we only had a couple laps left so surely they will throw the red flag so we can finish under green flag conditions. I don’t necessarily agree with a red flag towards the end of the race but it seems to be the new norm and Will Power was leading and I was hoping Tony Kanaan would win so I guess I was hoping/ expecting the red flag. It never came and the race ended under yellow. Will Power won and Tony Kanaan finished second. Everything I expected to happen did not and things I never thought would happen did. It was just a weird race. I’m sure it’s one we will be talking about for a long time. 

    Overall I enjoyed it. I like good fast racing and we saw that. I do like some unpredictability although this might have been a bit too much. I do like accidents and engine failures because it mixes things up. No not misunderstand- I never want to see drivers hurt and realize it is expensive for the teams and exhausting for the crews when accidents happen but it also greatly changes the course of the race and I enjoy that part. However, I don’t like a manufactured race and the cautions went too far. I hope we never see them again. I also would have preferred more cars still racing at the end. It was really a wild night. What were your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?  Guess we will have two weeks to debate about it as IndyCar has a week off before Road America. 

    Summer vacation 2017 – Grand Canyon Bryce National Park

    Just a small break from my IndyCar blog so I can journal about our vacation. It’s mostly a photo journal with brief descriptions of our day. 

    Monday morning we flew to Phoenix to begin our vacation. We met my cousin, Jeff and his daughter Maddie, at the airport. I haven’t seen Jeff in nearly thirty years. We had lunch and it was great to catch up a bit. We needed more time but I’m thankful for the time we did have. 

    After lunch we drove to Flagstaff. We spent the night there.

    Tuesday Morning- Woke up, enjoyed free breakfast at hotel and then drove to the Grand Canyon. Steve and I had been before but Zach and Matthew were amazed by how large it is. I had more fun watching Zach’s expression than the Canyon when we first arrived. We took pictures, walked along the rim and finally got the boys to walk back to the car for sunscreen and a snack.

      We then planned our day and decided on a hike. Zach was desperate to go down into the canyon. We told him we didn’t have time for that but we could venture down a bit for a different viewpoint. We walked down for about an hour- longer back up of course. I’m glad we did it and we all were wishing we did have more time so we could have gone even farther. 


    We found some lunch for the boys. Steve and I had packed a lunch for us and we rested from the hike. Then we drove to a couple more lookouts before driving to Marble Canyon for the night. 


    Once we arrived at Marble Canyon Lodge all I heard were complaints. I had warned everyone it was a small motel but when they learned there was no pool and even worse no internet they were not happy. The motel was just a block from the Colorado river and there were Condors nesting nearby so I thought it was perfect. It had a restaurant so we were good. We drove to the river and walked the bridge and spotted the Condors. Some women had spotting scopes set up and you could view the nest but the baby was under the parent at the time. 

    We had grabbed a bite on the road so after our walk the boys and I stopped at the restaurant for ice cream for them and a glass of wine for me. 

    Wednesday- I woke up early and walked to grab a coffee and then to the river. The Condors were in the same place as last night. Steve went for a run and we packed up to head to Bryce Canyon. 

    On the drive we were following a river and I told Steve it reminded my of the Sevier river which we followed on our last trip out west. Sure enough it was. It surprised me when I saw the sign. We were quite far from where we drove on our previous trip. 

    We arrived at Bryce and enjoyed the park for a couple hours before checking into our hotel. The boys were happy because we once again had a pool and wifi. 

    The boys and Steve went for a swim and I relaxed in the room. We had dinner at a diner. Burgers and chicken sandwiches before heading back into the park for sunset. 

    Thursday- We got started a bit later than we planned. We hiked the Queen’s/ Navajo combination loop with a 600 foot elevation change. I was worried about going back up but the switchbacks were actually fairly easy and I was much happier going up than down there because the gravel was quite loose. We definitely picked the right direction. The views were amazing. 

    After our hike we returned to the hotel for lunch and to rest before venturing on another hike. 

    We chose an easier hike for the afternoon.  It follows a creek and ends at a waterfall and a mossy cave. Steve and the boys ventured passed the waterfall but I sat at the waterfall and waited for them. Unfortunately their were small black flies that flew in my face and they were very annoying. The boys could have played by the water all day. They loved hopping over the small river and finding new trails. The river is there because in 1890 the settlers hand dug a 10 mile canal to divert water from the Sevier River to the town ensuring a steady water supply. 


    We had dinner at the buffet at our hotel. It was good. After dinner we took a short drive to see the end of the sunset. The sky was just beautiful. We also put the boys in jail at the small stores across the street. 

    2017 Indianapolis 500

    This years race did not disappoint, I was on the edge of my seat and there are many story lines to write about. Let’s start at the beginning. 

    Pre- Race Show- I stated in my previous post that one thing we knew about the Indianapolis 500 was that while ABC doesn’t always do a good job covering the race they do put on a good pre-race show. Well I guess I was wrong. It was okay but not what I was expecting.  They didn’t cover the singing of God Bless America, which is a race tradition and I heard was wonderfully sung. Then they had a fun driver introduction piece that I would have really enjoyed if it didn’t take the place of the actual driver introductions. I enjoy watching those live. Very disappointing. At one point I wasn’t even sure they were going to cover the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana.  Thankfully they did and it was amazing. Jim Cornelison is the perfect replacement for Jim Nabors and I hope to see him back for many years to come. From his tweets I think he feels the same way and would like to continue singing it each May. Then Tony George comes out to give the command to start engines. Good! Mary Hulman-George struggled last year and Tony is a good replacement. Well he should have been but then he messed it all up. Cmon Tony it’s easy- Lady and Gentleman, Start your engines!  For whatever reason Tony said, “Drivers, Start your engines.”  WRONG. Just a little thing but so incredibly disappointing.  Hopefully it is remedied next year. 

    Green Flag- The race had a beautiful start. Nice rows and everyone made it through turn one without incident and continued for the first quarter of the race. However, just when you began to wonder how long could this go on the craziest accident I’ve ever seen happened. Jay Howard got loose and hit the wall. Scott Dixon had no where to go as Howard’s car drifted in front of his.  Dixon’s car went airborne, flew over Helio Castroneves car and hit the fencing and wall tearing Dixon’s car into too many pieces to count. I really feel this was one of the worst crashes I’ve seen and yet miraculously Scott Dixon walked away.  I had heard that he was originally cleared but returned to the medical center to get a walking boot. Still not sure how his foot is doing. Apparently Emma tweeted a picture saying fractured but I haven’t heard any confirmation. I’m assuming Dixon will be driving at Detroit. 

    As the saying goes- Yellow breeds yellow. There was no shortage of them for the remainder of the race.  I believe 50 laps were ran under yellow.  Some of those were due to the Honda engine failures. The Honda teams were given a choice if they would like more power, However the extra power might mean less reliable engines. It was a chance teams were willing to take. Unfortunately, three drivers were the victims of engine failure. Charlie Kimball, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Fernando Alonso all experienced engine failure. 

    At the end it came down to Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato. I cheered when Helio took the lead- we could see history made when Helio became the next four time winner but I might have cheered even louder when Takuma took and kept the lead. Takuma came so close to winning in 2012 and I’ve always been a fan. It was awesome watching him win the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Congratulations Takuma. 

    So that just leaves- 

    Rookie of the Year- ROY honors went to Fernando Alonso but I felt Ed Jones should have been given the honor. I understand that it doesn’t matter how much racing experience you have and that it’s all about it being your rookie year at Indy but I’m much more impressed by Ed’s accomplishments than World Champion Alonso. Ed was also racing for a smaller team so I feel his accomplishments are greater. And personally because Ed is full time I want him to receive the honor. I understand why Alonso was awarded the honor and he is definitely the more popular name but if I had a vote it would have been for Ed Jones without a doubt. 

    Final Thoughts– It was a super entertaining 500. 

    ABC needs to go. I sure hope NBC takes over coverage for the whole season.

     I’d still like to see Helio win his fourth 500.

    I’m already counting the days till next May. Thank goodness for a double header in Detroit to give us something to look forward to. 

    Three things I know-

    Good morning race fans, or rather Merry Christmas!  Today is the day we have been waiting for all year and it’s going to be a great day. The weather had been looking like rain was going to play a major role but sweetly that forecast has changed and it should be a beautiful day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

    There are many unknowns about today. Will Jim Cornelison please the fans when he sings the iconic Back Home Again in Indiana? Will the cars back it safely through turn one, lap one? Will the Honda engines be reliable enough to make it through all 500 miles? And most importantly who will drink the milk and kiss the bricks? However, there are three things I already know-

    1. Today will be an emotional roller coaster.  I will laugh, scream, clap, shout and very likely cry.  Usually hearing Back Home Again in Indiana will bring tears to my eyes, sometimes it’s the pre-race stories (If they show Alexander Rossi visiting a sweet boy in the hospital I will lose it).  Maybe I will cry when my favorite doesn’t win and I definitely will cry if my favorite driver drinks the milk. Family beware, it’s going to be an emotional day for me. 

    2. The ABC broadcast is going to start off great. They have an amazing pre show and I always love their openings. Don’t let it fool you though once the race gets going Twitter will explode with comments about just how awful the guys in the booth are, specifically Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear. I used to not really notice but as the years go on it’s getting harder and harder to listen to the same comments which lack any real insight. Thankfully we have Allen Bestwick. He does his homework and I appreciate the job he does.  

    3. Regardless of what happens during the race tomorrow is going to be a depressing day. If we watch an amazing race, one filled with unneeded cations or one filled with surprises the end result will be a bunch of depressed IndyCar fans tomorrow. I’ve noticed this feeling for years and was surprised when I learned that many race fans experience the same thing. I’m not sure if there is a name for it but after all the hype and buildup for the race the day after is always depressing and IndyCar fans immediately start the count down until next years race. Definitely a downside to such an amazing day but one I’m willing to take because today is our Christmas and today we get to watch THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING!  I can’t wait. It’s going to be a good day. Merry Christmas race fans. 
    My picks- I’m happy with anyone who wins with the exception of about three drivers but I’d really love to see Marco break the curse. I’d be happy watching Helio climb the fence or TK kiss the bricks among many others. 

    I think Dixon and Power will be ones to watch and if I was putting money on it I would want them on my list. 

    2017 GP of Indy

    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. 

    We also ran into Curt Cavin, who thanks to Facebook and Twitter remembers me and we had a nice time catching up with him and discussing his new job with IndyCar. 

    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.  

    We enjoyed a nice meal. Matthew and Zachary played some shuffleboard while Lisa and I chatted. Pictures with the IndyCar after. 

    RACE DAY!

    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.