Race Day in May- GMR Grand Prix

Matthew is glad to be done with High School.

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

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

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

Saturday- race day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday- My Mother’s Day

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

I’ve been watching since 1985.

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

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

First Trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

Is this good enough?

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

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

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

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

Steve refused to stand in the sun ☀️

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

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

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

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

Hulman-George Family sells Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NTT IndyCar Series

This was not a story a thought I’d be writing. While we have heard extremely faint whispers of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway being sold they were quickly followed by assurances that the Speedway was not for sale. Perhaps, the best kept secret in IndyCar was that plans have been moving along since September when Tony George told Roger Penske he would like to talk about the stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Within days the two were meeting and on November 4, 2019 it was announced that Roger Penske’s company, Penske Entertainment Corporation, is purchasing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series and IMS Productions. The sale is expected to be finalized in January.

I received a text from my friend Lisa telling me the news and thought for sure she must have been reading a fake news article. I quickly went on twitter and saw my feed had exploded with news about the sale of IMS. Unbelievable!

My first thoughts we sad and disappointment. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been owned by the Hulman-George family for nearly 75 years. Alton “Tony” Hulman Jr. purchased the Speedway in 1945. The Speedway had become quite dilapidated during World War II but at the encouragement of Wilbur Shaw, Hulman bought the facility and turned it into a world famous landmark. The Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would not exist if not for Tony Hulman so it is sad to think that the Speedway will no longer be run by the family.

“I think that Roger, his structure, his resources, his capabilities that he demonstrates, are only going to take this to another level, so that’s what we’re all about. We’re supporting elevating this asset and staking a new claim on its future. We, with emotion, are happy to be here today.”Tony George

My second thoughts were concern. Roger Penske is a businessman. What changes will he make to ensure he makes money through this deal. What will change within IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500? What will happen to Doug Boles, Mark Miles, Jay Frye and so many others who are involved in the series. Then I moved on to smaller changes- ticket prices, entrance fees, cooler policies. Then to some changes RP has wanted to see in the past- guaranteed seats for regular series drivers in the 500, no international races and his beloved Detroit race taking place right after the 500. My head was spinning. Too much had the potential to change.

At 11:00 am on Monday morning the conference was live streamed and I sat down to watch. My fears and concerns slowly faded. Tony George was visibly emotional about the sale. Tony expressed the the George family would be given an opportunity to buy shares in the new company, quickly followed by Tony’s plans to take advantage of that. While Tony has made some blunders in the past, he sincerely loves the Speedway and I’m thankful he will continue to be involved in its future. Mark Miles spoke and then Roger Penske. Roger stated that they plan to keep current leadership. He looks forward to working with Mark Miles, Jay Frye and others. He named several people holding current positions and at least for now it appears many will stay. He talked about his first trip to the Speedway, his passion for it and his desire to see it become even bigger and better. He respects the past traditions and says the pomp and circumstance of the pre race ceremonies will remain. I felt a lot better after hearing Roger speak. Now if we could just keep him from aging so we know the property will remain in good hands.

Also worth noting the museum at IMS is not part of the sale. They will continue to operate as they always have.

While I continue to have some small concerns, I mostly excited to see how this new era is run. We recently had many traditions from the 500 change or alter. Florence Henderson recently passed so no longer is part of the pre race ceremonies. Back Home Again in Indiana is still sung but no longer by Jim Nabors. The Speedway is getting a lot of pressure to not have a balloon release before the race. A member of the Hulman-George family has been giving the command to start engines for more years than I can count- I’m guessing that will change. While some consider these these minor changes some can’t imagine things any other way. It will be interesting to see what happens come May. As the news has sunk in I find I’m excited to see how Roger and his company can expand and improve on IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 while remaining mindful and respectful of the past. I was also encouraged to see all the higher ups in IndyCar having breakfast with Roger today at Charlie Browns. Perfect way to start the day and this new era.

I’m sure it was a hard decision for Tony and his sisters, but the family has always done what they thought was best for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I don’t think a better person could have bought the Speedway than Roger Penske because he knows racing and has been racing all his life. His businesses are really well run and he knows how to get sponsors so I think this move will be nothing but a win-win-win. I’ve known Roger from when we both drove sports cars for John Mecom so we go back many, many years. The one thing about Roger is that when he goes and does something, he does it first class and that’s where I give him a lot of credit.” – A.J. Foyt

I talked to Mario Andretti today and AJ Foyt, and we all agreed what the Indianapolis 500 has meant to us as individuals and as a company, and certainly our company,” Penske said. “I think that what it really says, that in the United States of America, if you work hard and you’re committed and you have a great group of people, you get great success. So today I hope my dad’s looking down at me and looking at this group and saying, Son, you did a good job.”

“I’ve got a big commitment here to take over certainly as the steward of this great organization and what’s been done here in the past for so many decades. It’s my commitment to the Hulman family. The fact that you would select us is an opportunity to take on this investment, it’s amazing, and I just want to thank Tony and everyone else that’s been involved in this.”- Roger Penske

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