Colton Herta becomes youngest IndyCar Winner

I never pick well on my fantasy leagues. I have one Facebook league where you can only pick one driver. Well yesterday I chose the right driver. Wow! That was an amazing race. Loved watching Colton Herta win at Circuit of the Americas.

Colton Herta, son of Bryan Herta, became the youngest IndyCar winner at age 18. George Michael Steinbrenner IV became the youngest owner to win a race. Watching history being made was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. However, when I first started watching the race I wasn’t quite sure it was the best use of my time. My family is in Panama City Beach for a Spring Break and no one quite understood why I would rather watch the race than be on the beach. Well I had spent the morning on the beach and had a beautiful view from the balcony during the race so I didn’t feel like I was giving up too much beach time. Besides at the end of the day I’m too big of a fan to miss the inaugural IndyCar race at COTA. I did skip most of the pre race show and Steve and the boys went out for the afternoon so I could focus on the race. It was a clean start and while there were some passes made it felt very bland. Cars pit on different strategies but other than that it was just watching cars drive around.

I was beginning to thing COTA might be a bust when we finally got some entertainment. On lap 44 there was an incident with James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist (two of my fantasy picks of course). It brought out the only full course yellow of the race. Everyone knows you want to be the first in to make the last pit stop because if a yellow comes out it’s going to mess up your race. That is exactly what happened. Will Power and Alexander Rossi would give up the lead and Colton Herta and Josef Newgarden, who had just stopped, took over at the front of the field. Suddenly this race was a lot more exciting.

Now some might complain about how the pits close during a yellow and how it can completely change the direction a race is going and depending on who is leading I might agree but when we are watching Will Power run away with a race again I love the way a yellow can change things. Regardless of yellow Will Power would have been out as he had some type of car problem on his last pit stop and his day was done. Will ended up in last place and lost his chance at winning $100,000 had he won both the pole and the race. Alexander Rossi most likely would have won the race had we stayed green. However, Rossi’s day was also messed up by the yellows. Now Herta would just have to hold off Newgarden on the restart and remaining laps. That would be a tall order for anyone but an 18 year old rookie on a new team up against a former champion and Penske driver. Hmm. This is not going to be easy. Yet, Colton Herta made it look quite easy as he got a great restart and built up a nice lead over Josef. Josef had more time left on his push to pass but never really got close enough to threaten Colton’s lead. While some might say that Colton inherited the lead because of a yellow at the right time for him, it takes talent to hold off the Penske drivers. I score this as a legitimate win and put Herta in the rising star category. Hope I’m not jinxing him by saying that.

Josef Newgarden finished second, Ryan Hunter-Reay was third. Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five with Marco Andretti coming in sixth.

So was COTA a success? It was but only due to the yellow flag. I never want a gimmick or things included just to make a dull race more interesting but I sure was glad when that yellow came out. When it’s just a parade and especially a Penske parade racing can get quite dull. It was the perfect kind of yellow, no one was hurt and it added a whole bunch of excitement to the race. I’m sure anyone within shouting distance of me was not to happy. I was yelling at Colton to win this thing. Thankfully he did. Had the yellow never happened all the excitement about IndyCars finally racing at COTA might have had us questioning why anyone thought it would be a fun place to watch a race.

Closing thoughts-

NBCSN Gold Package is worth the money. I have enjoyed watching the coverage a lot and am especially thankful for the opportunity to watch at a later time. If you haven’t already purchased I would highly suggest it if you enjoy following along with practice and qualifying. At less than $5 per race, it seems like a very good value to me.

Danica Patrick- It was announced last week that Danica would be part of the broadcast team for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. As you can imagine social media went nuts and every complaint about Danica was repeated- again. Oh my goodness, get over it people. Nothing makes me more frustrated than listening to people say she was a lousy driver and an unkind person. First, she was (and is to this day) the best female driver in IndyCar by far. She won a race, she won poles and she consistently finished in the top 5, 10 and on the lead lap. Last year she qualified in the top 9 at Indy. Pippa Mann will get all the praise in the world but she consistently is down laps, qualifies in the back or fails to qualify to all. Honestly, I don’t hold out a ton of hope for her to make the field this year. Don’t even say she is in a lower quality car. She is but we all know the cars are insanely close in their set ups and there is not the huge advantage past drivers have had. Pippa has been with Dale Coyne, a proven race winner. At the end of the day Danica is the leader among women drivers and beats some of the men too. That’s quite the accomplishment. Second, before you all go saying how mean she is, please remember that none of you really know her. You know a personality, who she shows at a press event or when running from meetings and practice times. I imagine it’s got to get old knowing ever time you show your face someone will want an autograph, a picture, an interview. Unless you know her outside racing cut her some slack. We have been in this exact same place with Ryan Hunter-Reay and while I freely admit he is not a driver we cheer for, we never call him rude names or think he is a rotten person deserving death. We realize he is a busy man and was probably frustrated over things we don’t even know are going on. We often walk right by him when we see him now but we don’t name call and wish for bad things to happen to him- well maybe we do smile a bit when his race gets messed up but that’s it. So long story to say, we’ve been fans of Danica since Zach decided that the green GoDaddy car was his favorite and we are looking forward to seeing her on the broadcast. As I understand she will have a larger part in the pre and post show and most of calling the race will be our usual suspects, Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. I think it will all work out just fine.

Thanks for reading.

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IndyCar at St. Pete

Wow! I never expected it to take me all week to get this post out. To say I’ve been a bit overwhelmed in my personal life is an understatement. Last weekend, race weekend, we were hosting a pastor and his family. Pastor John was the pastoral candidate at our church. I served on the search team that recommended him to our elders. The elders recommended him to the congregation. After a long weekend of meet and greets and John preaching on Sunday morning, our church voted unanimously for him to be our new Sr. Pastor. It was a fun weekend. So excited to see how God will use him in our church. The racing side of me was eager to get home on Sunday and catch up on the race. I was able to watch the race Sunday afternoon. Monday morning our house guests left- Pastor John, his wife Kim and three of their five children had stayed with us for six nights. I enjoyed one quiet night before a new house guest arrived. She needs a little assistance getting back on her feet and will be with us about a week. She demands a lot of attention and that has kept me from having time to sit down and write this.

Celebration at Culver’s the evening of the vote. My boys and the pastors kids get along great.

St. Pete

Ok, let’s get down to business. NBCSN announced they would be the sole carrier of IndyCar for 2019 and beyond. Amazing news. The also offered a gold package on the NBC sports app. The gold package would offer lots of extra coverage and the ability to watch the race shortly after the air time. The cost was approximately $50 with the price going up $5 after opening day at St Pete. I debated waiting until after St Pete and hearing everyone’s thought on the gold package but eventually decided I’m too big of a fan to wait. I have to say I thoroughly appreciated the coverage. I miss the IndyCar Radio guys so as the season progresses I may flip back and forth or first listen to radio and then watch the app later. I think it’s going to be huge for me next weekend with COTA when I am out of town and unable to watch live. So far I’m impressed.

So this long after the race you have all had time to digest what happened so rather than do a race review I’m going to touch on a couple things that stuck out to me.

  • Loving that NBCSN is the provider. Qualifying, pre show and post show. I always hated that ABC just opened the season with a few minutes before jumping right into the race. I’m really excited to have every race covered by NBC. I’m especially excited to watch the Indy 500.
  • The race started with a clean lap around turn one and continued. On Lap 13, Sébastien Bourdais, who had won the last two years was out. A yellow was not called.
  • Lap 20 Ryan Hunter-Reay had smoke pouring from his car. A full course yellow was called. I’m not a RHR fan so it did not upset me at all to see him out.
  • Lap 26 Matheus Leist and Ed Jones touched sending Jones into the wall.
  • Somewhere around lap 60 NBCSN had some technical difficulties. To be honest I fast forwarded over this and wasn’t watching live to check in on social media to find out what was going on. I think it was just one of those weird things. I don’t expect it to be an issue in future races. We were back live within 10 laps.
  • By this time Josef Newgarden was running away with the race. At one time JNew had a 9 second lead over Scott Dixon. Crazy!
  • Felix Rosenqvist had an impressive race. Not quite what we saw from Robert Wickens last year but still one to watch this season. He finished 4th.
  • Dario Franchitti is to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. That’s quite the honor and honesty well deserved.
  • AJ Foyt was back at the track for the first time since his back surgery last year. Always makes me happy to see AJ at a race.
  • Which brings me to a last point.
  • COLTON HERTA- The whole thing with Harding Steinbrenner Racing is sad. So disappointed for Pato O’Ward. Thankfully, Pato found a ride and I’m excited to watch Colton’s career unfold. He showed a ton of speed in qualifying and was set to make the fast six before a penalty for slowing a driver down was imposed. Colton finished 8th in the race and I have to say I’m more impressed by this rookie than I have been by others. I know he has the name but I still expect to see him shine in the series. Keep your eye on him.
  • Oh wait. My final thought- how cool is it that Robert Wickens was at the St Pete race. He did a ton of appearances and was a great help to James Hinchcliffe. After the race, James, Robert and Marco Andretti along with their better halves took a birthday trip to the Bahamas. Robert celebrated his 30th birthday. Same day as Marco’s birthday. Fun videos and James’ podcast happened during that trip. Loved seeing Robbie poolside and able to relax. Continue to pray for his recovery.
  • Thanks for reading. Hope to be more timely with my COTA posts.
  • 2019 IndyCar Season

    Guess it’s time to brush the dust off my blog. The IndyCar off-season seems so long and then suddenly it’s over and we are ready to go racing. I won’t be able to cover all I missed during the off season but thought I throw out a couple thoughts as we prepare for the 2019 season.

    Let’s start with the fun news! I’m going to the Indianapolis 500 this May. Zach and I surprised Randy with tickets at Christmas. The tickets arrived today. While Zach and I attended the 99th running of the 500, we did not have the pleasure of receiving a blue envelope in the mail. This year I ordered our tickets so I have the privilege of opening the mail box and finding a beautiful blue envelope. Wow! That’s more fun than seeing the first flowers of Spring. The not so fun part is that due to snow days, Friday, May 24th has become our last day of school. Not sure I can pull Zach out on his last day. We might not make Carb Day. We will have to see what his schedule looks like as it gets closer.

    Other fun news is that Robert Wickens will be attending the St Petersburg race. While I kinda expected this it still makes my heart so happy to see his improvements and positive attitude. Obviously I’m not a doctor and don’t really know the extent of his injuries but if attitude is any indication Robert will be in a car again. If you aren’t following Robbie on social media you need to start. He is amazing and such an inspiration.

    So what are some thoughts on the upcoming season?

    Sébastien Bourdais has won the St Pete race the last two years. I’m not really expecting a third win but I do expect a win during the season.

    I’m expecting the Andretti team to be on fire. Rossi will be in the championship battle. Ryan Hunter-Reay will have a win and Zach Veach will get a win too. I’m a huge Marco fan. I’d love to see him back in victory circle. I honestly believe he has talent. He is who I want to win the Indy 500. Marco just needs to get out of his head. I’m happy for Conor to have the 500 ride but at the end of the day I’m a huge Stefan Wilson fan and I wanted him in that car.

    So speaking of Stefan Wilson- Pippa Mann will be driving the Driven2SaveLives car for Clausen-Marshall Racing. While I’m glad Pippa has a chance to attempt the 500 again I don’t understand their choice for a driver. Pippa failed to qualifylast year and usually is in the back of the pack. While she was teammates with Bryan Clausen I don’t see how she really becomes a spokesperson for Driven 2 Save Lives. Stefan on the other hand, qualified well for the 500 last year, led laps and is an amazing spokesperson for organ donation. He has such a personal story to tell and I think that would go a lot farther to reach others to donate than anything else. At the end of the day I just think Stefan is a better driver and I would prefer to see him in the car. While I appreciate Pippa I don’t see her going anywhere and imagine she will finish in the back of the pack if she is able to qualify.

    So what about Harding Steinbrenner Racing? Sadly, they weren’t able to get enough sponsors for two cars and Pato O’Ward was released from his contract. Colton Herta will be the sole driver. Both drivers show great potential so while there may be factors that led to Colton over Pato no one can really say one is more deserving than the other. The hard part is this late in the season it will be tricky for Pato to put something together. Andretti offered him a multiple race deal which was turned down. I don’t understand that at all. I’d take part time with one of the big three teams over full time with a smaller team almost any day.

    Last thought- Personally, I could care less that Fernando Alonso will be racing in the 500 again this year. I know it’s good for the sport but frankly I don’t care. Just one less spot for the drivers I do care about.

    This season I plan to attend the GP of Indy, Indianapolis 500, Road America and Gateway. Small chance I also sneak in Iowa. Hope to see you at a race soon. Check back often. Now that it’s officially IndyCar season I will be posting regularly. Thanks for reading.

    IndyCar Only Girl

    I’m an IndyCar only kinda girl. I watch IndyCar, I know IndyCar, I love IndyCar. So when the season is over I really miss it. I don’t have other sports I follow, my boys aren’t overly involved with sports and I find myself counting the days until the season starts back up. I also find ways to still attend IndyCar activities. This past weekend I took a trip to visit my dear friend Lisa Rayhons, she lives in Indianapolis so we planned a weekend around IndyCar.

    Lisa and I first “met” on Twitter. We realized we would both be attending the Road America race in 2016 and were able to meet briefly in person.

    Once we met we became closer friends and the following year met up in May at the Indy GP. We watched practices and went out for dinner. We also met up at the Iowa race and Gateway.

    This year we met up again at the GP of Indy and during qualifying. We spent the day together before the Gateway race and talked about the possibility of getting together during the off season.

    Gateway 2017

    Lisa, Mike and I at the GP of Indy

    Randy, Lisa and I at qualifying 2018

    Gateway 2018

    So when Steve and the boys planned a trip to Southern Illinois University I thought that might be a perfect time for a trip to Indy and to visit Lisa. She was free and we made our plans.

    I drove down on Friday afternoon and arrived at her house around 6:30. She picked us up Panera and we enjoyed a quiet night in. Perfect for both of us after a long week -wine, girl talk and cuddles with her pup Cooper.

    Saturday morning while Lisa was at her yoga class I double checked on plans for doing one of the tours offered at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I was really wanting to take the golf cart tour and learn more behind the scenes details. Just a few days prior when I checked the website all the tours showed available the day we would be at the Speedway. However, when I checked Saturday morning it stated that no tours were available. What’s!?!? So frustrating. Turns out there was a bike ride fundraiser for diabetes. Wonderful cause just wrong day for me. Well the one good think was fellow twitter and IndyCar friend Eric Hall was participating in the event and we were able to catch up for a bit.

    After talking with Eric, Lisa and I went into the museum. I love visiting the museum but it was so disappointing to not be able to do a tour, that was a big part of my trip down so I could get my IndyCar fix.

    Lisa and I talked with several other visitors most who didn’t think we really knew what we were talking about and some men who didn’t believe that we’d both met Arie Luyendyk on several occasions until we showed them pictures. We also talked with the men who worked there who were also surprised about our knowledge of IndyCar.

    Representing the Wilson brothers with my T-shirt

    We continued through the museum and then into the gift shop where I spent way too much money.

    We then did a driving tour of Butler University with Lisa acting as tour guide. Followed by a trip with Cooper who had been stuck in the house while we were out enjoying the day.

    Lisa’s friend, Joan, joined us for dinner. I met Joan when I was in town in May and it was wonderful to see her again. After dinner we had drinks at the Foyt Wine Vault. Being a huge AJ Foyt fan and a wine lover this is always a favorite stop. We had an enjoyable evening, sipping wine and chatting. The waitress and bar tender filled us in on stories about the Vault and the last time AJ, Larry and Anthony had been in. Realizing we were big fans they gave us coasters made with recycled tires. I love those types of gifts.

    We drove back to Lisa’s, said goodnight to Joan and settled in for the night.

    Sunday morning we had plans to meet Mike Silver for breakfast at Charlie Browns. Much like Lisa, Mike and I met on Twitter and have met up at several races. We were looking forward to the morning. However, Mike texted early Sunday morning that he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it after all. Lisa and I were disappointed. We drove over to Speedway and had our breakfast. It was actually Lisa’s first time ever eating at Charlie Browns. It was my third time this year and I live out of town so we were laughing about that. We enjoyed our meal and conversation.

    We drove separately to Speedway and my plan was to head home after breakfast but I decided I needed one more trip to IMS to get a shirt I’d seen the day before. When I walked up to the museum there was a sign saying no track tours but they were offering a building tour to see the Pagoda, media center and timing and scoring. Seriously! This was not mentioned on the website where it said no tours all week. Had we known we would have planned our Sunday different. I didn’t need to leave when I did, we could have planned a Sunday trip to do the tour. Now here I am with a decision, do I do the tour or just go home. The tour was so tempting but I hadn’t slept well the night before and already told my family an approximate time to expect me. They would understand if I called saying I’d be late but I decided it was still a super fun weekend and why not just have another trip to look forward to in the future. I picked up my shirt, visited the photo room and left the track.

    Even without the track tours it was such a fun weekend. Now I just have an excuse to go back again. Lisa and I had such a good time, I think she would be willing to host me again. Thank you dear friend for such a wonderful weekend.

    The icing on the cake though was while going through Twitter on Sunday night we learned that Robert Wickens can move his legs. A video is posted where he first moves one leg then the other, he then laughs and says both and moves both his leg. The smile is priceless. He still has a long road but it is filled with hope and that makes the journey a bit easier. Continuing to pray for a full recovery and am so thankful for the wonderful attitude Robbie has.

    #GetWellWickens

    2018 Season Finale at Sonoma

    As I prepared to watch the Verizon IndyCar Series finale I had some important decisions to make. My fantasy picks, even though I was out of the championship and which wine I should drink, Andretti or Foyt. I chose the Foyt Chardonnay and picked Marco for the win on one league and Marco, Josef, Rossi and Pato O’Ward for my other. Then I searched twitter as I often do for news on Robert Wickens. No new updates. I sat down with my glass of wine and waited for the race to start. Then I got a text from Lisa asking, “OMG! Did you see Robbie’s video?! I’m in tears.”

    I flipped right over to Twitter and sure enough there is an amazing video from Robbie! It shows Robbie from his bed at rehab and he says he is working hard to recover as fast as he can and that he wants to get back to racing. He also admits that he doesn’t know what the future holds but he has a smile on his face, he looks good and he is moving his arms. No word was said about his legs but the video was hopeful. I continue to pray he is doing well physically and emotionally. Obviously he still has a long road in front of him but hearing from him was absolutely wonderful.

    Many people have said that Robert doesn’t owe the fans a single thing and if he wants to keep silent that’s his choice. I don’t necessarily agree. When you chose to follow a certain career there will be aspects of it you might not like. For anyone with a fan base you have to accept that fans will want to know what is going on and have access to you. I’m not talking in his face 24/7 but some updates. IndyCar would not exist if fans weren’t there to watch. I was glad to see Robbie reach out with more than just a tweet. The video was perfect. I don’t need every last detail about his recovery. I understand some things he is not yet willing to share. I also believe the teams and drivers have a responsibility to keep us up to date on a drivers progress. I was so thankful for the video update and for the prior updates from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

    Okay happy tears have been shed and now it’s time to race! Or is it? Stupid NASCAR is still on and has over 17 laps to go. We won’t have any pre-show and it was already an abbreviated one at that. Then the NASCAR amateurs crash. NBCSN does cut over to IndyCar for a bit of pre-race coverage and then back to NASCAR. Twitter was saying IndyCar wouldn’t take the green flag until NASCAR was over but I didn’t hear that mentioned on the coverage. I tuned in to IndyCar Radio and listened there. NASCAR went back to green and then crashed again bringing out a red flag this time. So ridiculous. On the IndyCar side the call to start engines has been made and I’m watching stopped NASCAR cars and commercials. The green flag flies on IndyCar and about half a lap in the NBCSN coverage switches to the IndyCar race but it’s too late we’ve missed the start. Leigh Diffey is announcing and let’s the NASCAR fans know that they will return to NASCAR as soon as they go back to green. Then he tells the IndyCar viewers that CNBC is airing the IndyCar race. What the ??? Couldn’t we have been told this from the start. The program alert that runs in the bottom of the screen could have easily stated that IndyCar is available on CNBC. Instead it just said that IndyCar would air as soon as the checkered flag waved on the NASCAR race. I switched to CNBC but spent the first 20 laps being frustrated about the coverage. I love NBCSN but we need a better plan for when this happens in the future. This was the IndyCar finale. It cannot happen again. Especially when CNBC was just showing Shark Tank reruns. I understand the need to switch stations and that it is also important to cover the NASCAR race but it needs to be handled better in the future.

    Ok now as I said we are 20 laps in before I can really get into the race.

    Takuma Sato had a ton of smoke coming from the back of his car. No yellow. Alexander Rossi had got into the back of Marco Andretti on lap one and broke his front wing. Rossi needed the yellow to catch back up. I have mixed feelings on race control always waiting to throw a yellow. Sometimes I like them because they really mix things up. I don’t want gimmicks in IndyCar so it is a fine line but I was hoping for a yellow when we saw all that smoke from Sato.

    Oh well this day was already amazing because we heard from Robert, who cares what happens in the race. Speaking of Robert has NBCSN said anything about the video? Lap 29 and not a word. I was just taking note of that when they did finally on lap 30 show the video from Robbie.

    We did eventually get a yellow when Graham Rahal went off course and some oil was on the track. The yellow did help Rossi move up a bit as he had pitted just before the caution. Alexander Rossi was the car to watch. He continued to pass cars and climbed his way to 7th position by the checkered flag. However, it wasn’t enough as Scott Dixon stayed well ahead of Rossi finishing second and winning the championship title. Ryan Hunter-Reay lead the entire race. He started on the Pole and never looked back, only shortly giving up the lead when he made pit stops. Will Power completed the podium with his third place finish. Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti rounded out the top five. If not for Rossi the race would have been quite dull but watching and pulling for Rossi made it fairly exciting. There was always hope that a yellow would change things or if anything did happen to RHR or Dixon, Rossi would be right there ready to pounce. Sadly for Alexander that did not happen. Scott Dixon won his fifth championship only AJ Foyt has won more. Scott is so quiet and reserved sometimes that we forget we are watching one of the best make history. He truly is a legend.

    Couple things to note-

    Roger Penske won his 500 race. That man is unstoppable and also a legend.

    I noticed during practice the cameras had something blocking our view on the drivers cockpits. Was that the first time they did that or had I just not noticed before!

    Honda finally won the manufacturer championship. I haven’t double checked but I heard it said that every Honda team won a race during the 2018 season. Quite impressive.

    So while I was rooting for Rossi it’s hard to be disappointed when Scott Dixon wins the championship. He could continue to do this for years to come. But watch out Dixie, Alexander Rossi will be there fighting you for it every year. It’s just a matter of time before Rossi is also a champion.

    I can’t believe the season is over. It went way too fast. I’m already making plans for next season.

    Check back here from time to time while I won’t post as much during the off season I will still have thoughts as we learn more during Silly Season or we hear news on Robbie etc. I also have a trip planned to Indy this fall that will include a trip to IMS and I’m sure I will blog about that. I also plan to have a 2018 highlights post with favorite parts of the season both personal and on track action.

    Another Wonderful Race Weekend and Another Checkered Flag Necklace

    While preparing for our weekend at Gateway my mind was on Robert Wickens and I wasn’t sure how you can enjoy a race while so concerned for a driver. Turns out a race and my IndyCar friends were just what I needed.

    I pulled the boys out of school at noon so we could make the drive to St Louis. We picked up my cousin Randy and headed down. We stopped in Utica for a wine tasting and the boys went to a nearby restaurant for cheeseburgers. We continued our drive and checked in to our hotel.

    We went to the Spaghetti Factory for Randy’s Birthday dinner and then walked over to the arch. It is so pretty all lit up at night. The boys rented scooters and we enjoyed the cool evening knowing it would be a lot warmer by Saturday.

    Saturday- Race Day

    We met Lisa in Soulard to visit the Farmers Market and have lunch before heading to the track. I had made us all #Get Well Wickens shirts and had one for Lisa as well. Many people stopped us to ask about our shirts. We enjoyed lunch at The Wood Shack. They had wonderful sandwiches and we enjoyed talking with other customers.

    After lunch we headed to Gateway Motorsports Park. The day was incredibly hot and before we even entered the track I had my hair pulled up in a ponytail. I was such a mess by the end of the day. Fortunately, I had frozen water bottles so we always had something cool to enjoy. They helped a lot. We got our paddock passes and made our way through the paddock. The autograph session had started but we saw some owners, team members and friends including George and Susan Phillips and Mike Silver. The boys were hot so we went back outside the track and under the stands so they could be in the shade. Matthew did the Mazda simulators and Zach just hung out in the shade. The autograph session finished and we watched the drivers hop on their scooters and ride back to the paddock. Sebastian Bourdais was on a golf cart and I was right in his way but with my back to him. Didn’t hear him beep at me until about the third time. Oops sorry Sebastian. We missed James Hinchcliffe and he was the one I wanted to see so Randy and I went back to the paddock.

    We walked by the Schmidt Peterson trucks looking for James but saw Scott and talked with him. Scott is a crew member of Sam Schmidt’s team. He works on James Hinchcliffe’s car. I first met Scott in 2015. We knew Hinch was at the Milwaukee Race in 2015 and I asked one of the crew members if he knew where Hinch might be. He wasn’t sure but we talked for a bit about Hinch’s accident and I took a picture before we left. Next race we saw him again. I had made a photo book and he got a laugh seeing his picture in it. Now I always make a point to say “Hi”. On Saturday Scott walked out of the trailer and saw me as I saw him and came right over to say Hello. I tried to not ask specific questions about how Robert was doing as I knew it wasn’t his place to share any information. Scott did tell us that Robert was awake and able to communicate through nodding or blinking. He also said that no one was trying to keep information from the public, they just still don’t know the extent of his injuries. Scott said Hinch was in a meeting and he assumed he was still there. We talked a bit more and took a picture for next years photo book.

    As Randy and I continued through the paddock we noticed the drivers leaving the drivers meeting. We watched for Hinch and soon saw him. Zach and I had made a checked flag necklace for Robbie that said Get Well Wicky. I walked up to Hinch and said, “Years ago we gave a necklace like this to Ryan Briscoe.” James eyes sparked with recognition and he said, “Oh yes. thank you.” I continued and my yes teared up as I asked him to please give this one to Robert. James said he would be visiting him in the hospital tomorrow (Sunday) and would give it to him. He also noticed my shirt and smiled. His hands were bandaged from the injuries he sustained in that horrible accident in Pocono and you could see a sorrow in his eyes and that while he was going to continue to sign autographs as long as fans wanted you could tell he really just wanted to get to his trailer. I thanked him and stepped aside not even asking for a photograph. I did however ask Randy to please get a picture as I walked over to Hinch and he did.

    It might look like I’m smiling but I’m actually holding back the tears and trying my best to not cry. My heart breaks for Robbie but also for James as he waits to see how Robbie’s recovery goes.

    If you are unaware of what a checkered flag necklace is or what the significance of it is you can Read about it here when we gave Hinch a checkered flag necklace after his horrific accident. And also here when we learned that three years later he still had his checkered flag necklace.

    Well that was my goal for the weekend. The only driver I wanted to see was James so I could give him the necklace. I was so thankful to have a chance to talk with Hinch. Tell him we were thinking and praying for him and especially for Robert. We continue to pray.

    As we continued through the paddock we saw Roger Penske and Randy got a picture with him. Roger told Randy he really liked his shirt and wished him a Happy Birthday when we told him it was his birthday.

    We also got a chance to talk with Curt Cavin. I hugged him and said I’m sure making that announcement about Robert must have been hard. Even though it was good news, he was awake and alert but still that was not the good part of the job as VP of Communication for IndyCar.

    We enjoyed a beer and made our way to the stands for the race. We gathered the boys and headed to meet up with Lisa and DZ and friends to watch the race.

    First lap crash as Sebastian Bourdais touched the wall. After the clean up the race stayed green and a bit dull until Charlie Kimball hit the wall and we thought a yellow would come out. The yellow never came. Hmm. I understand not going yellow, Charlie kept the car under control and made it to the pits. However, the race was a bit of a snoozer at that point. A yellow would have bunged the field back up and add some excitement. Well we didn’t wait too much longer before Ryan Hunter-Reay experienced some sort of engine or electrical failure that did bring out a yellow. RHR retired from the race and that yellow made for an exciting ending as teams had to decide if it was better to save fuel and not make another pit stop or go full rich on fuel but pit before the checkered flag. Wow! Fuel strategy is not my favorite way to win but this really mixed things up and kept us guessing. Will Power was among the first to pit and that was obviously the right decision as he won the race. Alexander Rossi was saving fuel and came in second. Scott Dixon also took a splash and finished third. Simon Pagenaud and Zach Veach rounded out the top five. Wow! Awesome job Zach! Love seeing the guys move up the ladder series and do well in IndyCar. Great finish for Zach. He is definitely a fan favorite. Zach even tweeted that he was overwhelmed by the amount of tweets he received about his race. Keep an eye on him.

    After the race concluded we watched the fireworks and said goodbye to Lisa and DZ. Then we made out way to the track invasion. As we waited to enter the track we saw Arie Luyendyk. When I saw him I made room for him to pass but many did not recognize him so he struggled a bit to get through the crowd. This gave me a chance to talk with him. I’ve met Arie on several occasions and you could tell that while I didn’t say anything about past times that I’ve met him he knew I was a familiar face. We talked a bit and then he pushed his way through the crowd. The girls in front of me couldn’t believe his boldness so I said,”That’s Arie Luyendyk.” Well obviously they don’t follow IndyCar because that meant nothing to them. So sad when people don’t know what they are missing. A legend walked in front of them and they had no clue.

    We watched the victory celebration, walked on the track and then through the paddock before finally heading back to the car.

    It was a wonderful although hot day. Gateway Motorsports Park did a great job and improved greatly from the show last year. Concession stand lines were down, access in and out were much easier, the pre race show was great. My only complaint is where were the mist machines or cooling centers. We needed some relief from the heat. It was a great event though and I’m sure we will attend again next year.

    Best part of the night. Schmidt Peterson Racing put out an update on Robert’s condition saying that Robbie was able to breath on his own without the aid of machines and was talking with his family. Once again it was hard to hold back the tears. Such wonderful news. We continue to pray for Robbie and his family and pray we will see him back at the race track soon.

    The boys have their USWAG gear socks for Justin and homemade shirts for Robbie.

    Driving to Gateway

    It’s an odd day as we drive to St. Louis for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park. Race weekends are supposed to be full of excitement and fun and this weekend is but there are also memories of Justin Wilson who lost his life three years ago today and ongoing concerns for Robert Wickens. Justin, as you all well know by now, was a family favorite. Robert is a rookie in the Verizon IndyCar Series but was quickly making a name for himself and his fan base was growing every race because he is always in contention for a win.

    Tony Kanaan wrote an article about why racers race even when they know the dangers. I need someone who is better than me at putting their thoughts and feelings into words to write a piece about the fans and why we continue to watch and love this sport even when we’ve seen how cruel it can be. Tony says, “Race car drivers are just wired a little but differently than most people. You have to be a little crazy to do what we do.” He is right. Race car drivers are wired differently but not just on the track. I’ve never seen a sport where the stars of the series interact with the fans the way the IndyCar drivers do. When I bring friends to the track with me they are amazed by the amount of drivers we meet just walking through the paddock. They will all stop for an autograph and often exchange a couple sentences. Some drivers even recognize us, though not my name–yet. How can you not love and support a series where the drivers care so much about the fans. The drivers will also make stops at local schools and hospitals to meet the kids. Scott Dixon went so far as to visit a young girl who wrote a note to IndyCar thanking them for all the safety measures they have in place that helped save Scott Dixon’s life when he had his horrible crash at Indy. How can I not support IndyCar? So while they might have a wild side that loves the thrill of the speed in a fast car, they also have hearts of gold and grow their fan base by their actions as well as their talent.

    Losing Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson in recent years has been heartbreaking. My family especially grieved for Justin as we had met him several times. However, I never once thought to stop watching the IndyCar Series. I continue to hope for new safety innovations and pray before each race that the drivers remain safe but I still love to watch the drivers do what they do (and love) – race!

    This weekend as we remember Justin and continue to pray for Robert I know it will be a different kind of race weekend. I also know that being surrounded by the IndyCar family, the drivers, teams and fans will be helpful. Being surrounded by people that love Robbie and are pulling for him will be an amazing thing. The fans attending this weekend have been encouraged to wear red. I’ve made shirts for my family with iron on decals that say # Get Well Wickens. We are part of the IndyCar family and it will be wonderful to all be together doing what we love. The drivers will race fast and hard. The fans will cheer and show support through wearing red, buying Robert Wickens merchandise, sending cards and continuing to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. IndyCar is a family and as long as racers are racing fans will be watching.