Rapid Response- so much more than a documentary

What started as a review of the documentary Rapid Response became more of a personal story of the loss I’ve witnessed in the years I’ve watched IndyCar and how seeing this movie has made me even more grateful for the safety innovations brought about by some incredible doctors. Hope you enjoy reading and please make time to see the movie.

If you are a regular reader of my blog the one thing you know is how I became a fan of IndyCar. It is a story I don’t tire of telling and somehow many of my posts seem to go back to that story. Maybe because I’m a girl but I also seem to get asked that question a lot – how did I become such a big fan of IndyCar. So today I will do a bit of retelling because it is also how I experienced my first lose of a driver I really liked.

The first driver death for me was Eddie Sachs. Okay some of you realize I’m not old enough to have even been alive for the 1964 race but nonetheless that was the first driving fatality that shook me up. I was reading AJ Foyt’s biography for my freshman English class in 1985. There are several references to Eddie Sachs and I remember him being a driver I liked hearing about as I made my way through AJ’s life story. I was shocked and sad when I read of Eddie’s death. It all seemed so unfair and while I was not yet a race fan I wondered how people could risk their lives like they did.

Yesterday, as I made my way to the theater to see Rapid Response, the film made from the book written by Dr Stephen Olvey, I reflected on the driver deaths I’ve experienced. Eddie Sachs was the first, Scott Brayton was the next one for me. Scott Brayton was a popular driver at my house and by 1996 I was hooked on the Indianapolis 500. I wasn’t following the sport full time yet but I watched every bit of qualifying and practice that I could. My family was happy with Brayton’s poll win and we were crushed when we learned of his death. Tony Renna was just a year or two before I became a full time fan and I was unfamiliar with him. Always sad to learn of a death but similar to Paul Dana’s death I was saddened to learn but did not know much of these drivers. Things changed greatly in 2011 when Dan Wheldon was killed in the first few laps at Las Vegas Speedway. Dan had won the Indianapolis 500 the previous May and while he didn’t have a full time ride in IndyCar he was very much a part of the IndyCar Paddock. He helped in the booth, did pit run interviews alongside Robin Miller and made sure no one missed him and his desire to be driving full time. It kept him very much in the public eye and made him a friend and not just a driver. We heard his thoughts, his dreams, saw him laugh and enjoy life. Just minutes before his death we listened in on an incar interview with Dan before the green flag flew. It was unbelievable watching that crash on TV and waiting for news about Dan. The race never concluded and news of Dans passing was announced. The drivers did some parade laps in his honor. I admit it was so much harder on me than I could have imagined.

Justin Wilson was next. I hate even typing that because Justin was our favorite driver. We met him several times and had great interactions with him. His accident was so random and heartbreaking. I was depressed for weeks after his death and still to this day his picture with my son Matthew is on my phone lock screen.

So why tell you all this- just a little background as to why I was so eager to see the film Rapid Response. The amazing safety innovations that have been made over the years are incredible. I’ve experienced relatively few deaths in the sport I love. Several older than me lived with it on a much regular basis. Stephen Olvey describes how as a young boy he would consistently need to pick a new favorite driver as his favorite would perish driving their race car. Bill Vukovich was the first driver loss Stephen experienced as a young child.

While Stephen initially dreamed of becoming a racecar driver, his father convinced him to become a doctor. Eventually Dr. Olvey was the doctor at the track taking care of the drivers. The movie goes into detail about how Dr. Olvey saw a need for more medical staff and equipment to be in place at the track and eventually not just the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but all tracks. Over the years more and more advances were made and what was once a sport that saw numerous deaths every year now sees so many less. As stated I can only think of a handful I personally remember. I am so incredibly thankful for Dr. Stephen Olvey’s passion and desire to help make racing more safe. Dr. Terry Trammell is the doctor name I am most familiar with in IndyCar. He was brought on by Dr. Olvey and the two of them have changed the world of Motorsports. I am so grateful for them both and so many others like them who continue to make racing safer. Tony Kanaan tells a story in the movie about breaking his wrist during the Motegi race in Japan. Tony refused to have his wrist looked at until he was back in the states and Dr. Trammell could attend to it. Three weeks of therapy in Dr. Trammell’s basement and Tony was ready for the Indianapolis 500. He finished third that year.

Dr. Olvey and Dr. Trammell would watch trends in racing accidents, analyze data and consistently make advances which made racing safer. Injuries to feet and ankles which were once so prevalent have greatly decreased. Neck and head injuries are reduced with the introduction of the HANS device. Better tests are put in place to determine if a driver has suffered a concussion. The doctors even make a hard call to cancel a race at the Texas Motor Speedway when it was discovered that the G-load the drivers were experiencing was causing them to blackout. Without these men seeking new advances and being willing to make hard calls like cancelling a race the death rate in racing would have been so much higher of the years.

If you have a passion for IndyCar that goes beyond watching cars go fast. If you are fascinated by the drivers and the whole world behind the scenes at a race track, particularly the Indy 500 then you will greatly enjoy the movie Rapid Response. It is playing in limited theaters and I was fortunate enough to have a showing just 20 minutes from my house. I would have driven farther if needed and would recommend to any fan that they take the time to go see this incredible documentary. It was inspiring while also heartbreaking. So much loss, such terrible crashes and yet these men (and woman) who love to race will not stop. It is in their blood and part of who they are. Men like Dr. Olvey and Dr. Trammell have done so much to make the sport safer and for that we can’t thank them enough.

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Power wins the penultimate race of the 2019 season

Spending a Sunday afternoon watching a race is seriously my favorite thing to do. I can’t believe we only have one more race this season. Today’s race was amazing and I loved every second. I have six pages of notes about the race so get ready to dive in. I have to say though that one of my favorite things is watching live and tweeting with my IndyCar friends. Today I tweeted that I always remind my boys that when I am old and in a nursing home all they need to do is show me old IndyCar races, bring me wine and play George Michael for me and I will be happy. My twitter friends were all over that and I am now thinking I need to open an IndyCar nursing home. How fun to watch races all day every day with others who love racing. Sounds good to me.

So if I’m being totally honest I don’t really have time to get this post out and we have a fun day planned tomorrow, first on our boat and then taking the plane up for a quick flight to grab so dinner. Last official day of summer so we are going all out. That means I need to get six pages of race notes into a post tonight. In order to do that I’m going to take a page from Eric Hall – anotherindycarblog.wordpress.com / @erock_in_indy and do an unfiltered race notes kinda blog. Thanks Eric for the inspiration.

Portland race- huge crowd, long lines. Love it.

Katherine Legge in the two seater. Wonder why so many drivers and not Mario but love seeing Katherine at the IndyCar race.

Saw on Twitter that Hinch will be staying with McLaren/Schmidt. Wow. That actually shocks me. I thought for sure Hinch would stay with Honda when all was said and done. Will be so interesting to see what happens next year when his contract is up. Not a bad move for Hinch, I just thought Honda would do anything to keep him and that the Honda money would be enough to make him stay with a Honda team. Goes to show what I know.

Then we learned that ABC Supply would no longer be a AJ Foyt Racing sponsor. I need to read more about this but I am so disappointed. I believe I heard they will still sponsor the car for the 500 but need to double check those details. Foyt Racing has said they still plan to have two cars next year and this doesn’t change anything for their race team.

Green flag/ Turn one. Huge crash. Graham Rahal is too aggressive and starts a chain reaction which takes out both James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly. Seriously, cmon Graham. Zach Veach is out too. Graham takes full responsibility.

The yellow was way too long. Green flag returns on lap 13.

Then Ryan Hunter-Reay makes an insane move and takes out Jack Harvey. I was fuming. Jack is only doing a partial season and RHR makes a ridiculous move which ruins both their days. Harvey and the Meyer Shank team had a great qualifying session and looked to do well in the race and then got collected in RHR’s dumb move. Unbelievable. RHR did receive a 30 sec penalty for avoidable contact and rejoined the race several laps down but still can’t believe he did that.

Dixon finally got around Colton Herta and Herta dropped like a rock and several others passed him.

Lap 47- Dixon has a three second lead. I seriously thought the race was over at this time and that we would just be watching a parade with Dixon leading. I was wrong.

I always enjoy the drama when things go wrong in a race. So many were complaining about the first turn crash and while I hate that Hinch and Veach were done for the day, I do enjoy how a crash like that can totally change the course of a race.

And just a few laps later we saw that again when Scott Dixon had an issue on Lap 56. His battery failed and just like that the guy I assumed would win the race is now down three laps. Crazy.

Power takes the lead.

Somehow Josef Newgarden has stayed out of trouble and after a poor qualifying session he is now in fourth place. I was/am a huge fan of Josef but I so enjoyed rooting for him when he was the underdog. Now that he is with team Penske I find myself rooting against him.

Lap 61- Double points at Laguna Seca means every point is critical in this race.

My tweet about the nursing home is getting a lot of feedback. Apparently others like my idea. What a fun nursing home that will be. Watching IndyCar and drinking wine (or beer). Love it!

Lap 68- Power leads and looks like he will win. I was so close to picking him on my fantasy league but went with Herta.

Lap 70- Pigot and Andretti should pit as soon as possible and pray for a yellow to mix things up.

Lap 71- How did Kanaan go down a lap?

Lap 74- JNew small issue in pits.

Lap 78/79 Marco and Pagenaud have contact. Marco has damage and needs to pit. Seriously that guy can never catch a break.

Lap 90- a couple races ago we wondered if Power would be winless this year, now he looks to win his second race of the year.

Lap 95- Power leads by 6 seconds over Rosenqvist. Rossi 16 seconds behind.

Never mind, Ferrucci stops on front stretch. Full course yellow. Things might change after all.

Restart keeps everyone in same position. Thought it might get nuts with so many fighting for a win or championship but they all fell in line.

JNew finishes 41 points in front of Rossi for the championship with Pagenaud just 42 points behind. With double points at the season finale it is still anyone’s championship.

Power has to be enjoying this win after his win in Pocono being in a rain shortened race.

Seriously, how do we only have one more race this season? It went way too fast. The 2020 schedule came out today. We will be returning to the oval in Richmond and that will add a race weekend. Other than Circuit of the America’s being later in April the season pretty much remains the same. I am thankful for the extra oval race. I would love to see a 20 race season beginning in February. Edit- I somehow missed that Pocono will not be returning. That is frustrating. So no added weekend and we go a month without a race from middle of July to middle of August. Something needs to be added there by 2021. That is too long of a break. July 18 will be at Iowa and racing won’t return until August 16 at Mid-Ohio. I don’t care for that.

So while I’m rooting for Rossi or Pagenaud for the championship I’d put my money on Josef. With Laguna Seca having not been on the schedule for several years it will be an interesting race to watch. I can’t wait and yet am not ready for the 2019 season to be over.

Thanks for reading.

2019 Indy GP Race Day

The boys and I headed over to the track around 11:00. It was a beautiful morning but the weather man said rain was coming. I went out in the morning and purchased some additional rain ponchos to make sure we would stay dry. We brought some but when you are out for an extended time we might need extras to keep our things dry or have a dry place to sit. We parked in our usual spot and walked in.

We usually sit with our friend Mark but Mark didn’t make it this year. We decided we would still sit in the same spot though on the mounds by turns 7,8,9. We walked over to set our chairs down. When we got to the mounds it was obvious that the crowds were down this year. The spots on the top of the mounds were full but just inside the top row was plenty of spots to put our things. The boys decided they would just hang out by our seats since they are too old for the kids zone and didn’t want to walk over to Pagoda plaza. However, before I walked over to the Pagoda we realized we left all the rain gear in the car. I hiked back to our car because I was fairly certain we would need it before the day was over.

When I reentered the track I went past the garages and the Pagoda. Met up with Lisa and Joan there. Couldn’t convince them that the mounds by turn 8 were a great place to watch the race from and they chose the mounds by turn 1. The skies were growing darker so I went back to the boys to make sure we had the rain gear to keep dry. By that time they were ready to venture out and grab a snack. They returned just before the start of the race.

As the race began so did the excitement. Alexander Rossi was out before it even began. Rossi was clipped by Pato O’Ward and then hit the wall. The race stayed green. A couple laps later yellow came out when Marcus Ericsson hit the wall. When we returned to green Colton Herta was spun and Ryan Hunter-Reay clipped Herta. Herta was my fantasy pick. I had just taken over the top spot on a Facebook fantasy league I’m a part of. I’m sure I dropped way down now.

Eventually the rain picked up at Indy. Our rain ponchos were on and everyone was guessing when the best time to get on rain tires was. Some got them on too early and some waited. As the race neared the end, Scott Dixon was struggling with his tires. Simon Pagenaud looked like he was unstoppable. Pagenaud was able to get around Matheus Leist and Jack Harvey. While neither one of those drivers are rookies they are both newer to full time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series. I wasn’t surprised Pagenaud got around them. Dixon would be another story and there were not many laps left. Pagenaud neared Dixon with two laps to go and then made an amazing pass right in front of our seats. I could hear he was coming in my headset and was already yelling. That was enough to make Zach peek out from his rain poncho and he saw the great pass too. Simon Pagenaud won the sixth running of the Indy GP, his third win at this track, tied with Will Power.

Prior to the weekend I would have said I’m fine with anyone winning except Will Power or Simon Pagenaud as between the two of them they had won all previous races. That’s the fun thing about IndyCar though, as a race advances you find yourself rooting one way or another. I didn’t really want Scott Dixon to win even though he would have been a new winner at the GP so I was cheering for Pagenaud to get around Dixie. He did and I loved it. So in all other scenarios where a Penske car might win I wouldn’t be thrilled but Pagenaud needed that win. Simon hasn’t won since 2017 and rumor is he won’t continue at Penske. Maybe this will help him keep his position. He is such a fun and talented driver. I hope he is racing for many years to come.

Scott Dixon finished second- again. I don’t recall the exact number but he has quite a few second places at this race. Jack Harvey finished third. It was a great race by Harvey. I was so close to picking him for my fantasy pick over Herta. Oh well. Love seeing Jack and the Michael Shank team on the podium. A shout out to Matheus Leist and AJ Foyt Racing for their fourth place finish. Matt started way in the back of the field and moved his way up to fourth. Tony Kanaan started last but the team took a gamble and put rain tires on early. Turned out to be a bit too early and Tony didn’t do so well.

We packed up our things and joined the track invasion before the boys headed for the car and I took one last trip past the garages. Since Matthew can drive he got the car and pulled it up as I exited the Speedway. We stopped at the Foyt Vault post race. I had a glass of wine and the boys enjoyed a soda. The main reason for our stop though was to buy the new 103 wine featuring Tony Kanaan. It’s a $60 bottle of wine, much more than I’ve ever spent on a bottle but this bottle is three of May favorite things- AJ Foyt, Tony Kanaan and wine! Steve said to pick one up as a Mother’s Day gift and I didn’t thing twice. The boys then played shuffleboard so I looked through some of the books they have and was reading while I waited for them. We had a simple meal at Culver’s and ended our evening in the hot tub at the hotel. Another fun race day!

A couple posts ago I discussed if the GP was a good race weekend. I can safely say it once again was a wonderful time.

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

Pros and Cons of Camping at Road America

This last week was my first time camping at Road America. It was also my first time camping at an IndyCar race. It won’t be my last. Before I get started I will say the pros far outweigh the cons. Camping at Road America was so much fun. I can’t wait to do it again.

Pros-

  • Cheaper than a hotel. I will discuss this a bit more in the cons but overall we spent less than we would have if we stayed it a hotel.
  • So close to all the action. When we stay at a hotel it is sometimes hard to get to the track for the first practice or for the Lights race. It didn’t matter at all how early things were because we were at the track. Our campsite was right across from the pits. I could even see the cars go by from the breakfast table in my camper. There was no excuse for missing any of the action. Previously when we attended Road America we stayed near West Bend and commuted nearly 45 minutes each way to get to the track. This year I literally walked over to the stands in my pajamas with a coffee to watch practice.
  • Food and drinks always within reach. Road America is know for its great concessions but you still can’t beat a quick trip to the camper to grab a drink or a snack.
  • No need to carry everything you need for the day all over the track. In between sessions we would head back to the camper and take a break in the air conditioning and grab what we needed. My back wasn’t killing me from hauling backpacks and chairs all over.
  • Easy to bring the kids bikes. Zach and his friend had a blast riding their bikes all over the facility. It made getting around so much easier for them.
  • Port-a-potties were really clean. I was worried these might be a disgusting mess as the weekend went on but they were very well maintained.
  • Access to the paddock. Okay you get this with your admission ticket but we didn’t feel any rush to leave the track so we could linger in the paddock. We saw AJ, Mario, Hinch and so many others. You can’t beat the access they give you at Road America. There is absolutely no reason to wait in the long autograph lines. We see everyone in the paddock- Will Power, Arie Luyendyk, Josef Newgarden, the list could go on and on.
  • Great neighbors! Well this might not always be true but we had great ones on both sides. We all made plans to camp on the same sites next year. The kids exchanged snapchats and we all enjoyed hanging out.

Cons-

  • The cost- I already stated the price was cheaper than a hotel but… My cousin Randy came with so we would have needed two rooms at a hotel so the camping was definitely cheaper. However, we still paid about $100 a night which is way more than I usually pay to camp. I understand this is a different circumstance so I was okay with the $300 for the weekend to camp on an electric site. The problem was you had to add a camping wristband for everyone over 16. The wristband was an additional $60 each. The pamphlet we got with our camping registration said to call before 10:00 for water delivery. No where on there did it mention a cost for water. Always when we camp water is free. So we called for our water delivery and then were charged $40. When it came time to dump there was a suggested donation of $10. So it appeared that camping would cost $300 but in the end it was $470. Non electric sites are much cheaper so if you are planning to tent you will find it much more reasonable. I’m still okay with what we paid I just hate how the cost aren’t listed upfront. The water especially was frustrating, we could have filled up at home. Now we know for next year.
  • Now I’m just getting nit picky because I don’t have much to complain about. The track never opens up for you to walk or bike on. I would love to take an early morning or late evening walk on the track. I understand why it doesn’t open up but sure would love it if it did. Hope the Road America officials don’t read this but Zach and I did sneak out on Sunday night and took some pictures at the start/finish line.

Our weekend was about perfect. We greatly enjoyed the racing and the camping. Already planning to return next year. Speaking of next year tickets are on sale. You can buy a four day pass for $100. That is a steal. I believe the deal runs through October 31 but check the website. Oh and did I mention kids 16 and under are free. Makes for such an affordable weekend even with the added camping costs 😉. Hope to see you there. Huge Thank You to Randy for being willing to tow the camper and attend with us. I would have been to afraid to tow it myself.