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.

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Indy GP Great Event or Waste of Time?

Recently, on social media I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the Indy GP. This will be the sixth running of the road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race takes place on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend and has become a tradition in my family. I love attending this race with my boys.

While this race takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I fully understand that it is not the Indianapolis 500. The race itself might not be overly entertaining and we are still waiting for someone other than Simon Pagenaud or Will Power to win it but the event is one of my favorites. Let’s break it down. Why is the Indy GP such a fun weekend and why should you attend?

  • The Indy GP weekend is a great way to start the Month of May. The days of two weekends for qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 are long gone. I don’t see them returning. This allows fans to have the “Month of May”. Anytime you spend a weekend at IMS it’s a good weekend.
  • You can’t beat the price. $25 for General Admission and kids under 16 are free. This year I will need to pay for Matthew to enter and I still feel it’s an amazing deal. Parking is so easy and entering the Speedway is simple too. A bag check is done but I’ve never waited in a long line to enter. Oh and did I mention you can bring in your own food and drink, including alcoholic beverages. What facilities allow that. It makes for such an affordable, fun family day.
  • Great time to meet up with friends. The track is huge but when you aren’t fighting crowds it is easy to meet up with friends. I plan on seeing several this weekend. Many groups will have meet ups and some are spontaneous but either way it’s a great time.
  • The drivers are also so much more accessible. While there is always pressure on a race weekend it is nothing like the pressure felt at the Indianapolis 500. We’ve meet several drivers on the GP weekend. Larry Foyt even invited us in the garage to see the car up close. Some of my best blog posts have been from this weekend.
  • Outside the track lines are better too. We celebrate Mother’s Day with breakfast at Charlie Browns. We also like to make a stop at Longs bakery. I haven’t attempted either of these during a 500 weekend and don’t think I ever will. Too many people. The GP weekend draws a crowd but it is not overwhelming and we can enjoy all Speedway has to offer- 1911 Grill, Foyt Vault, Charlie Brown’s and Longs among others. Makes for an even more memorable weekend.
  • Mother’s Day tradition! My family never disappoints me on Mother’s Day. I have my day planned. Breakfast at Charlie Browns, a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum and a stop at the sale shop at the museum. I walk in with my boys, point out several gift ideas and walk out. They purchase a gift or two for me and present them to me outside by the fountain. Honestly, the last few years they have purchased from the regular store. I have been blown away by their generosity and have some special presents I will always cherish. I can’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day.

So obviously I highly recommend attending the Indy GP. It does not take away from the 500 weekend but adds to the whole month of May. It’s starts the excitement and keeps building until the twin checkers fly and a new winner kisses the bricks after a grueling 500 miles. I hope I see you there.

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.

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.

This Is May!

May is finally here and the countdown till the Indy 500 gets real. May is a crazy busy month for me and all I want to do is focus on the 500 and IndyCar. I don’t want to worry about all the big projects the kids have for school, planning summer trips, gardening and all the other things that fill May. I just want to focus on IndyCar, specifically the Indy 500. Somehow I will find time for all the things that need to get done and I will use every spare minute to enjoy IndyCar. Here is a look at my Month of May.

  • Constant streaming of IndyCar. I might not be able to get to the Speedway much but I can listen in and enjoy the sounds of the cars.
  • Trackside will be on nightly. I usually listen via the podcast so workouts and time spent in the car are a pleasure.
  • The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson. This radio show follows Trackside. I love listening and learning more about the history of the Indianapolis 500.
  • Hopefully more blog posts. My goal is to keep up on my posting.
  • George Phillips Trivia Contest on his blog Oilpressure.com. This is the hardest trivia ever but I’m totally addicted. It takes up way too much of my time. I really need it to run in February when I have more free time but I do so enjoy researching and finding the answers. Last year I met Arie Luyendyk and he was stumped by the questions too so at least I’m in good company.
  • May 11-13 I will be in Indy for the road course race. Matthew, Zachary and I have not missed a race on the road course. We will spend Friday and Saturday at the track and Sunday at the museum. It’s a perfect Mother’s Day weekend for me.
  • May 19-20 I will be back in Indy for qualifying. We hope to visit the Foyt Vault on this trip.
  • May 27 This is Steve’s birthday. He could care less about the 500 so I always feel bad that I’m so absorbed in the race. Thankfully he is a pretty good sport about it. I will be watching from home as Memorial Day weekend is a busy time at our house and traveling to Indy is not an option this year. Next year we plan to attend our second Indy 500.
  • May 28- I hate the day after the 500. It will take a day or two to recover. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait for the next race as Detroit takes place a week later. But nothing can compare to the Indianapolis 500 and knowing we have a whole year to wait is always a bit sad.

I’ve been watching the 500 since 1985. I’ve watched every race and in 2008 I took Matthew to the Speedway for his first time. He hasn’t missed a May trip. In 2010 Zach started coming with. They were both five years old on their first trip. This year they will be 15 and 13. Indy is all about family and traditions and I have to say the time spent there with my boys is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I’m so excited, THIS IS MAY!

2010

2013

2014

2015 GP of Indy

2015 Indy 500

2016 So cold that year!

2017

I can’t post this without mentioning my sweet friend Sarah. Sarah was born with heart problems. She is now in her thirties, married and raising three beautiful children. Today she is receiving the gift of a new heart and liver. Because Justin Wilson and Bryan Clausen were both organ donors I think awareness among the IndyCar community has grown immensely. I think most everyone has signed up to be a donor. If you haven’t there will be many opportunities to sign up on race weekends. Would you please consider. Your donation will save lives. I’m so excited for Sarah as she receives her gift today. Please pray for her, her doctors, her family and of course the family of the donor. What a great gift she is receiving.

Such a Fun Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

As much as I enjoy watching the race, this weekend is also about family and all the things to do on a race weekend. Matthew is now twelve but we began our tradition of spending time at Indy in May when he was just five. Two years later when Zach turned five he joined us on our trips. This year did not disappoint. We had a great time.

You can read about qualifying day in my previous post- Fun Day at the Grand Prix of Indy. It truly was a fun day. Saturday was race day and just as busy and fun as qualifying.

We enjoyed breakfast at our hotel and got in a quick swim before heading to the track. We arrived at the speedway around 11:45. That gave us plenty of time to make the tweet up by the pagoda. It was good to see Eric Hall (@erock_in_indy, anotherindycarblog.wordpress.com) and also George and Susan Phillips ( @oilpressureblog, Oilpressure.com) among others. Pippa Mann and Tristan Vautier were there with Pippa running a Q&A. Unfortunately, with car noise in the background it was impossible to hear much at all. I also wish there could be someway to introduce those in attendance. I talked with some but I’m sure I missed some twitter friends simply because I don’t recognize the face as I do the twitter handle. I’ve enjoyed other tweet ups more. My boys however, had a great time. They had their checkered flag necklaces and were finding many takers. A couple people were especially appreciative. We talked with one man for quite awhile. He even bought Zach’s hat from him. Another woman liked the necklace so much she found us later and gave the boys t-shirts. And yet another woman, from IndyINtheLoop.com, interviewed the boys. They were having a blast.

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Time for lunch so we got a turkey leg to share. If you are looking for a cheaper way to feed a family always go for the turkey leg. All three of us ate from it and were quite full after. Matthew did have a hot dog too. We had drinks in our cooler (love that IMS allows outside food and beverages) so we didn’t break the bank for lunch. If you can find the vintage tenderloin sandwich that is an incredible value too. We weren’t so lucky this trip but plan to hunt them down at the 500.

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After lunch, Zach got a picture with the Firestone Firehawk. We were packing up our things, thinking about finding a spot on the mounds to watch the race, when a woman came up to us. She asked if we had seats. I said no and she asked if we wanted seats in the Northwest Vista. Umm sure. She then explained that she was an Angie’s list employee and saw me with my boys and wanted to do something nice for us. Looking back I think she thought I was a single mom. I’m not but it is overwhelming sometimes being at such a massive facility and keeping track of two boys. This has become easier each year and this year Matthew has a phone so knowing I can contact him should we get separated helped a lot. Still it is a hectic weekend and was such a sweet gesture from this woman. We had great seats– they were just a bit farther away than we had anticipated. Oh well we seldom get to that side of the track so let’s just enjoy.

We made our way to our seats. Saw Big Steve, winner of the Rickshaw races at the 2014 Milwaukee race and got settled in just in time for the short rain shower.

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The boys loved the rain and wished it had rained longer. They also really loved the start of the race. I know you shouldn’t hope for crashes but it does make it a bit more exciting, especially for young boys. It certainly grabbed Matthew’s attention and he watched the first ten laps or so pretty closely. Zach grew bored a bit quicker and attempted to take a nap. Eventually they went to buy an ice cream and all was good again. After the crash there wasn’t much to keep their attention but we would point out when one of our favorite drivers would pass by. The race ended with Will Power winning. Not one of our favorites.

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Zach had seen, on our way to our seats, where they were selling used tires from the Pro Mazda series. He had to have one. I tried my hardest to talk him out of it. We were on the exact opposite side of the track from where we were parked. I thought there was no way he could carry that tire the whole way back. It turned out to be the best ten dollars we spent. He fairly skipped back to the car. He was so proud of his tire and loved the attention he got carrying it back. Matthew begged to help carry it but Zach wouldn’t let him.

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As we neared the walkway overlooking the garage area went went up to see if we could see any drivers. We were lucky enough to see Takuma Sato with AJ Foyt. So very thankful he is doing well and was at the speedway. We also saw Hinch.

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IMS was offering a chance to go out on the track, a track invasion, but the boys were tired and not interested. We continued back to our car and barely made it before the rain began. Wow! Such a fun day.

We finished our day with dinner at Steak ‘n Shake to celebrate Graham’s second place finish. After that we played in the pool.

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Sunday was Mother’s Day and although there was no track activity we didn’t let that keep us from going back to the speedway. We visited the museum and the gift shop. The boys picked out my Mother’s Day gifts and I couldn’t be happy with their selections, after all they are from IMS. Well actually I do have one complaint. Zach bought me a t-shirt. He knew ahead of time to get an XL. I warned him that sizes run small. When he presented it to me I knew we had to exchange it. Thankfully the sweet woman working remembered us and it was an easy exchange. We got the 2XL. Okay people, I could definitely stand to lose a couple pounds but as a rule I wear a large—2XL– I should be swimming in it and actually it is still quite tight. It is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t even imagine once I wash it. Guess my nieces will be getting another t-shirt from me. This is not a one time problem.

We “opened” the gifts by the fountain before making our drive up north to the Chicago area. I can’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day and can’t wait to do it all again in two weeks and next year.

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