A Sweltering Race Day in St. Louis

Years from now when you ask me what I remember from this race I will tell you it was a hot day. It was probably the hottest race that I have personally attended. We had paddock passes and usually enjoy just walking up and down the paddock but this year we sought shade in the hottest part of the day and eventually a cooling station. Qualifying was at 4:00 so during the time we had between qualifying and green flag we were able to enjoy the paddock without the immense heat from the mid afternoon. Due to the heat and the condensed day, with practice, qualifying and race all on Saturday we did not have as many opportunities to see drivers and teams, however the drivers were out and talking with fans so much more than I expected given the heat and busy day. They really are the best.

We left Friday afternoon and our drive seemed to take forever. Somewhere south of Springfield, IL our GPS rerouted us saying our previous route would have added 90 minutes to our drive. Not sure if it was construction or an accident but thankful we didn’t get stuck in that mess. We arrived in St. Louis around 8:00 p.m. and went directly to the Spaghetti Factory for dinner. We walked over the the Gateway Arch after, seeing the Arch lit up at night is a sight we never grow tired of. We stayed in a cabin about 30 minutes out of town so we headed there.

Saturday morning we went to Scott Air Force Base for a quick tour with my son, Matthew. Matthew enlisting with the Air National Guard in November and is waiting for his Basic Training dates. We then made our way to World Wide Technology Raceway, formerly Gateway Motorsports Park. Upon entrance the first tent we saw was the Air National Guard so of course we had to stop.

We saw several drivers and friends in the paddock and stands. It is always so fun to catch up with everyone. I had purchased a shirt for race day in hopes of seeing Arie Luyendyk. Arie always comments on which driver I have on my shirt. I purchased a Luyendyk shirt to see if he noticed. Well it was a black shirt and I switched it out to a tank top because of the heat. When I did run into Arie I pulled it out and told him my story. He laughed and then pointed out that he wasn’t on the shirt. The shirt has his Domino’s car and his autograph but not a picture of him. Haha, he is vain. Anyone know where I can get an Arie Luyendyk shirt with his picture?

Qualifying ran smooth with no one hitting the wall. Will Power won the pole and after his win at Indy last week he seemed to be on a roll so I chose him for my fantasy league. Let’s just say I’m no longer leading my league. Power was still able to make the podium but Penske teammate, Josef Newgarden won that top spot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Pre race show

WWT Raceway president, Curtis Francois along with the Bommarito Automotive Group but on a great event and that includes the pre race ceremonies. Curtis announced that he and Jay Frye signed a five year deal with IndyCar. He then announced that the Bommarito group would also continue to sponsor the race for the next five years. Then there was a tribute to First Responders, which included more police cars than you could count. They did a lap around the track, followed by a second lap with lights and sirens on. Of course there was the invocation, the singing of the National Anthem and a flyover. The flyover consisted of the Lima Lima Flight Team and a KC-135 refueling tanker. Matthew loved that part as he will be working on the KC-135 with the Air National Guard. He had the biggest smile on his face as it flew over. After the command to start engines the cars pay tribute to the Indianapolis 500 but lining up three wide for a lap. They then go to the traditional two wide for the green flag. I love all the extras in the pre race show.

The race went green but quickly went to yellow. Cars made it fine around the first lap so it appeared we would have a good, clean start but by lap two Ed Jones was racing Graham Rahal and ended up taking them both out of the race. So frustrating for Graham who finally qualified well and looked to maybe have a good race.

Before the green flag flew again Dalton Kellett and Ed Carpenter touched and the yellow remained. Takuma Sato was the reason the green flag was waved off a bit later and then when the race finally returned to green, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden made contact. Debris was on the track so once again the yellow came out. It appeared it would be a quick yellow but a problem with the track lights not turning off caused confusion as the flag man waved green but the track stayed yellow. Finally around lap 25, after 21 laps under yellow we got the race going. Later, Ed Carpenter made contact with the wall and they most frustrating incident of the night was when Rinus VeeKay made contact with Scott Dixon and Alex Palou. Palou had been the points leader but this sadly dropped him down to second. Dixon was able to return later, I heard he was 80 laps down but turning the fastest laps. VeeKay was also done for the night. Alexander Rossi hit the wall, ending a promising race for him. Colton Herta also had a heartbreaking night when he pitted but broke the half-shaft. He went out on track but it was obvious something was wrong, he immediately pitted and we learned the problem soon after, his night was done. Josef Newgarden had a strong race all night and it the end he took the checkered flag.

WWT Raceway opens up the track to spectators shortly after the checkered flag. It would be nice if they had more ways to enter and could wait for the fans before announcing the winners on the podium but it is still a fun opportunity to walk on the track after the race. We usually go out and walk a little bit but this year we walked the entire track. This helps with leaving the parking lot as the crowds are long gone.

The race in St. Louis is always a favorite. A race on an oval is also always a favorite. Having so many things to do in and around St. Louis also makes this a fun race weekend. We look forward to returning.

A couple things to note

Romain Grosjean made his oval debut and it was something to see. While watching a race in person I’m not always aware of what is going on farther back in the field but every time Grosjean would make a pass the crowd went nuts. Grosjean kept passing cars and made the race very entertaining. I’m not sure what happened that eventually put him a lap down but he spent a portion of the race running in the top ten. I think it’s safe to say we will see in on more ovals. After the race Romain walked across the track to the fence to great fans, many of whom were wearing purple Grosjean shirts. I love having him in IndyCar.

The crowd at the fence to meet Grosjean

I can’t let this day pass without a word about Justin Wilson. Six years ago today we lost him after a tragic accident at Pocono Raceway. Justin was our families favorite driver and we still miss him terribly. We had the pleasure of meeting him several times and every time was special. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Justin at Milwaukee 2015

Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix

There were a couple sad moments in today’s race. Robin Miller once again did an amazing tribute piece. This time for Bob Jenkins. I’m a huge Bob Jenkins fan so of course I shed a few tears but even if you weren’t a fan it’s hard to not get emotional during one of Robin’s pieces. Robin is fighting his own cancer battle so while listening to him speak on Bob Jenkins I couldn’t help but wonder who would do the piece on Robin. I’m praying for a miracle and that we won’t find out the answer for that for quite a while.

Not nearly as sad for all of you but not fun for me was that I wasn’t in attendance at today’s race. Many of you know my tradition is to watch the Indianapolis 500 from home. I’ve only attended twice. However, the GP of Indy is a different story and I had planned to attend everyone of them making that a tradition with my sons. We began our trips to Indy with qualifying but in 2014 the boys decided they rather see a race than qualifying for the 500. We began a tradition and changed up the way we do Mother’s Day. We’ve enjoyed this from 2014-2019. Of course 2020 did not happen on schedule and then fans weren’t allowed at the GP of Indy on the Fourth of July 2020. We did attend the double header Harvest GP in October at the speedway. In 2021 we returned to the GP although sadly it was the weekend after Mother’s Day. So the race that took place today at Indy is the first one we missed where fans were allowed. Honestly, I was afraid the heat might be too much so we didn’t make a huge effort to attend. It was also the first week of school for Zach and we will be at Gateway, so not to make excuses but there was just a lot going on. I’m crushed we weren’t there. What a fun race.

We have watched Will Power win this race again and again. He won in 2015, 2017, 2018, and the Harvest GP in 2020. He won again today! The IndyCars have raced here 11 times now. Will Power has won five of those 11 wins. Simon Pagenaud has won three, Rinus VeeKay, Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden have each won one. It’s safe to say Power has dominated this track. I’ve laughed saying I’ve seen this race before after a Power win but that was not the feel today. Maybe because I watched from home and saw all the drama deep in the field, maybe because Power was not on the pole and had to gain that position or maybe because Power has not won yet this year, this race I was rooting for Power. Oh and he was my fantasy pick so maybe that’s why. 😂

Let’s point out a couple highlights or fun facts from the race.

Romain Grosjean finished second. He was also second on this course in May. Safe to say he has the track figured out. Could he get his win here next May?

Will Power as we said has won here more than any other driver. He has also led more laps than anyone. Power has led 341 laps on the road course. Simon Pagenaud is second with 75 laps and Scott Dixon takes the third spot with 69 laps. Quite impressive.

Rookie Christian Lundgaard qualified second and was fast in practice. He was in the mix during the race and finished a respectable 12th. Based on this race alone Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing definitely needs to consider this young man for a seat next year.

Alexander Rossi had his best finish for the year but it’s still no where near the season we expected from him.

Graham Rahal always appears in the mix during a race. If he can ever figure out qualifying he would be able to win. Sadly, he usually qualifies in the back half of the field and can’t make it all the way to the front. I’d be interested to see who has moved up the most spots this year. Im guessing Graham is near the top of that list.

Alex Palou, championship leader, had a disappointing race. He lost his engine on lap 67, bringing out the first yellow of the race. He still leads in points but Pato O’Ward has closed the gap to 21 points. Four races remain.

James Hinchcliffe, who was on the podium in Nashville, finished 22nd in Indy. That will not help his chances of staying with Andretti. He is a talented driver but needs to show it on the track.

On the home front

Things have been busy here this week with school starting. Zach started his Junior year. We will be traveling to St. Louis this weekend for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Worldwide Technology Raceway, I still call it Gateway 😉. This is always a fun race. Romain Grosjean will be making his oval debut. Tony Kanaan will be back in the 48 Ganassi car.

It took me so long to get this post out we also learned that IndyCar will be returning to Iowa Speedway in 2022. The doubleheader will take place on July 23&24. I am excited to have Iowa back on the schedule. Hope I get to attend in 2022. Look for a post early next week to hear all about our adventures in St. Louis and at WWT Raceway where we enjoy our final oval of the season. There is nothing like a night race under the lights.

The Launch and Win- who saw that coming?

Late Sunday afternoon the much anticipated inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix took place. While many attended in person the thought of Nashville in August kept me from making the trip. We watched from the comfort of our couch. After watching practice and qualifying I thought for sure many cars would not make it through the first lap and when everyone made it through turn one I was quite surprised. However, while they didn’t all crash on turn one of lap one, it didn’t take long for the yellows to start and once they did they kept coming. By lap 2 we had a yellow for Dalton Kellett who seemed to be having issues keeping the car in gear. As the green was about to come out after the Kellett yellow, Marcus Ericsson launched his car over the car of Sebastien Bourdais. It was a wild hit and completely unexpected. Miraculously, Marcus had very little damage to his car and was able to return to racing. Sadly, Bourdais sustained too much damage and his race was over.

The race continued on with several more yellows and never really a chance for the race to get into a groove. The yellows completely threw off any pit strategy as the race only once went more than 10 laps without a yellow. Only 18 of the 27 starters would still be running at the end of the race. That said, I felt the clean up from the yellows took place in a timely fashion. 33 laps ran under caution. There were also two red flags. The first red flag was for contact involving at least seven cars. The track was blocked so the race needed to be red flagged. The last red flag was when Colton Herta hit the wall. Herta had dominated practice, qualifying and the first three quarters of the race. Honestly, because I thought the race would just be a parade with Herta leading is probably why I enjoyed the yellows. Yellows provide a way to mix things up that might not have happened otherwise. For Herta the yellows messed up with everyone’s pit strategy and eventually Herta found himself a few cars back but he quickly passed several cars and worked his way up to second. It seemed just a matter of time before he would pass Marcus Ericsson who had shocked everyone by not only recovering from his earlier launch but was now leading the race. Colton would near Marcus on the corners only to have Marcus pull away on the straights. Eventually, Herta pushed too hard and hit the wall. The red flag came out to clean up the track but Scott Dixon was not able to take the top spot from Ericsson. The checkered flag flew and Marcus Ericsson won the race. Dixon was second and James Hinchcliffe earned a long awaited podium finish.

The race had no rhyme or reason and a third of it was run under caution but I prefer that to follow the leader. It ran longer than expected but after such a long break since the last race I was fine watching extra. Many complained about the track but that’s just how it goes with a new circuit. I honestly believe that even if they don’t change a single thing we would have a very different race next year because the drivers will know what they need to do to make sure they have less yellows. I remember the race at St. Pete after the new aero kits were introduced. Every tiny hit created a mess of car parts, it was like watching legos disintegrate but the drivers eventually figured out how to drive without making any contact and the engineers redesigned the parts to work better. I am sure next year we will not see as much chaos.

So congratulations to Marcus Ericsson on a win we will not soon forget. His second win for the year is both a surprise and a feat I doubt we will see again. He was up so high when he hit the back of Bourdais I’m still surprised he was able to work his way to the lead. He was also in the pits 5 times, the only other driver in the pits 5 times was Max Chilton. Max was the last driver still running at the checkered flag in 18th position. You need a lot of luck to win a race after so much craziness. I can only imagine how mad Chip Ganassi was watching the launch when the cars were under yellow and how elated he was when Marcus won. I would have liked to have seen that interview.

So while I doubt we will ever see a race quite like this one again, I enjoyed it and look forward to Nashville remaining on the schedule for many years to come.

Bob Jenkins

Sadly, before I posted this race post we learned of the death of Bob Jenkins. So many people who have been following the Indy 500 and IndyCar longer than I have wonderful memories of Sid Collins and Tom Carnegie. While I was fortunate enough to hear Tom Carnegie, it is Bob Jenkins that associate with my years I’ve followed IndyCar. I loved when he called races on Verses and especially enjoyed hearing him at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I always enjoyed the extras too, the qualifying draw and award banquets. I wrote a post about Bob shortly after we learned of his news where I explain more of why he was a favorite but I believe Doug Boles said it best when he said, “There is nothing like Bob Jenkins voice to make a race fan feel they are in the right spot in the month of May.” I couldn’t agree more. Bob Jenkins will be greatly missed.

One last thing to note

I was as surprised as anyone when we learned that Helio Castroneves would be driving full time for Meyer Shank Racing. I’ve thought for years that he could become the first five time winner of the Indianapolis 500. That is within his grasp now. I was equally surprised to learn that Jack Harvey would not be returning to MSR. Silly season became a whole lot sillier with that announcement. It will be interesting to see where the dominoes fall.

Helio Makes History as 4th Four Time Winner

I woke up Sunday morning just as the bomb went off. Of course I was 200 miles away so I didn’t actually hear it but as I looked at the clock and realized what was happening in Indy I found it hard to go back to sleep. I got out of bed and decided to treat myself to Starbucks. After arriving back home I checked my previous blog post, I had a notification of a new comment. Usually, I enjoy seeing what has been said but this one was cruel. The commenter was very angry that I would call myself a super fan when I wasn’t attending the Indy 500 and said I wasted two minutes for his life he would never get back. Wow! I could get into all the reasons that a super fan can still be super even if they watch from home but that is a post for another day.

As I waited for TV coverage to begin I listened to 1070 out of Indianapolis and prepared things around the house. I woke my boys around 11:00 so they would not miss the pre race activities. We got out our favorite snacks and discussed what we hoped would happen in the race.

Family picks for the 500. Bragging rights only.
Hoping for another TK win so enjoying this wine during the race.

After tearing up during the clips on long time attenders of the race and of course Back Home Again in Indiana, we were ready for the most famous words in racing. I really need to have a talk with Roger Penske. I enjoyed what he had to say before he gave the command but he should have paused before the command and I definitely wish he would say, “Lady and Gentlemen, Start your engines.”

In our house the majority thought the first yellow would occur on the first lap in turn one. We were pleased when that did not happen. However, we were crushed that it was Stefan Wilson that brought the yellow out on his first pit stop. I say it all the time, Stefan is a favorite of ours and we were really hoping he would have a good race. His mishap caused problems for others since the pits would be closed just as everyone needed to stop. Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi were the big losers as they both were so low on gas that their engines died in the pits and it was a struggle to get them restarted. They both fell back a lap. Dixon would get the lap back eventually but Rossi never did. Two favorites for the race fell way behind.

As the race progressed it was fun hearing the crowd when fan favorite, Conor Daly took the lead. Daly, Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay all enjoyed leading several laps. Graham Rahal was steadily working his way to the front when he had an incident exiting the pits. His left rear tire was not secure, causing Rahal to lose control and hit the wall. The tire landing right on Daly’s nose cone. Graham looked like he could have been in contention for the win but will have to once again wait for next year. Daly also lost out and while he remained in the race he was no longer showing the speed needed to win.

Eventually, Alex Palou and Helio Castroneves were the two everyone was watching as we neared the end of the race. The two leapfrogged for the lead and this is when you really know who you are rooting for. Zach loves Palou and was rooting for him. I would have been happy with that outcome but found myself cheering much louder when Helio took the lead. It was Helio that took the twin checkered flags on lap 200. I was crying. History was made and after many years of waiting and wondering we now have a fourth four time winner. It was so fun. The celebration that took place immediately after was even better. Of course Helio went to climb the fence. Michael Shank met him there and they shared a sweet moment. Then driver after driver and crew members from many crews all came to congratulate Helio. The celebration went on and no one really rushed him to get to the victory circle and the usual post race traditions. It was so fun to watch and let it all sink in. Eventually, he rode up to the victory circle and received the wreath and drank the milk. He dumped some milk on his head but thankfully not all of it. The team was prepared and added some pink food coloring to it.

I still have a little of the post show to watch but we had a graduation party to attend so we sadly turned off the TV and after a quick stop for cheese fries to celebrate we went on to our party.

After the party we had an eventful night I won’t get into here but briefly, Zach was in a car accident and thankfully is fine. It could have been so much worse and we are thankful for the safety measures put in place in passenger cars that are learned on the race tracks across the world. It made a long day even longer but we are so blessed Zach and his friend walked away unhurt. We don’t know the extent but the other driver admitted to drinking. Please don’t drink and drive.

Monday morning the usual after race blues along with dealing with Zach’s car made for a depressing day. We look forward to moving on and enjoying summer.

Congratulations to Helio and also to the entire Meyer Shank Team. What a great way to get your first win. Can’t wait to watch as the team grows.

So I’m going to end with this question. Can you be a true fan of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 and not attend the race. I already know the answer but am curious as to your thoughts.

Fans of IndyCar and the Indy 500

As we count down to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, I thought it would be fun to once again remind ourselves of some of the differences between true fans of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 and casual fans of the sport. So here are some ways we differ. Hope you enjoy!

1. A super fan will wake up long before the sun rises to hit the road in order to attend a race weekend. It makes no sense to go to a race and not watch every practice and qualifying session. A casual fan would rather attend her sons ballgame and stroll into the track just before the green flag.

At the Indianapolis 500, the super fan has arrived before the bomb and enjoys vintage cars on track, the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana, Balloon real ease and many other prerace traditions. The casual fan is still waiting in the concession line minutes before the green flag.

2. A super fan refers to the drivers by their first name and acts like they actually know the driver (we feel like we do).  The casual fan often has no clue who the super fan is talking about because sport figures usually go by their last names and the casual fan is trying to figure out who the heck Tony, Charlie and Scott are.

3. When hanging out at the hotel pool after a hot day at a speedway a casual fan might be tempted to yell out “Polo” to a popular game kids are playing in the pool. A super fan will have a completely different answer and yell out “Andretti”.

4. A super fan knows the drivers birthdays and will often tweet birthday wishes. While discussing this at dinner Kristen couldn’t believe how many of the drivers birthdays Lisa and I knew without looking them up. Okay I will admit we didn’t always remember the exact date but between the two of us we knew the Month for many.

5. A super fan won’t go to just any restaurant while attending the Indy 500. Charlie Browns, Mug n Bun, Dawson’s and the Foyt Vault are all a must. Casual fan just wants to hit Cracker Barrel because it is close to the hotel.

6. A super fan gets all geeked out when her blog is mentioned by the king of IndyCar bloggers- George Phillip of Oilpressure.com – even more so when she wins the annual trivia contest. A casual fan is shocked that there is more than one person blogging about IndyCar.

7. A super fan has her own scanner and regularly checks in with Debbie who works for Racing Elecronics to make sure she is good to go before the green flag. A casual fan hopefully remembers to bring ear protection.

8. A super fan knows and recognizes the radio announcers. A casual fan scratches her head wondering how on Earth you know what the radio announcers look like.

9. A super fan will rearrange the IndyCar magnets on her car putting the driver with the most points in first. A casual fan sadly does not have any IndyCar bumper stickers or magnets on her car.

10. Perhaps our favorite and the one we laughed over the most. A super fan follows the drivers pet dogs on Twitter. During the Iowa weekend (2017) Norman Pagenaud tweeted reminding us to vote for Simon for the ESPY’s. Kristen could not stop laughing when I showed her the tweet. She laughed even harder when she learned he wasn’t the only dog I follow. Chevy Clausen is another sweet pup I follow. The best part was it didn’t even dawn on me that she would find it funny or weird that I follow dogs on twitter- don’t we all? When we told Lisa she said she also followed Norman and of course had voted for Simon.

11. A super fan refuses to attend weddings or graduation parties on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. A casual fan actually plans parties on that Sunday and doesn’t understand why the super fan refuses to attend.

12. A casual fan does not talk to strangers in a bar. A super fan notices their IndyCar shirt and approaches them asking all sorts of questions about who they like for the race.

13. A super fan talks along with the radio, tv and podcasts answering questions and pointing out facts along with the announcers. The casual fan is amazed people can talk about IndyCar for that long.

14. A casual fan may or may not recognize Mario Andretti. A super fan will pull out a homemade autograph book that includes pictures from the Andretti winery and end up having a 15 minute conversation with the racing legend.

15. Super fans wake up on Memorial Day Sunday saying Merry Christmas. Casual fans are greatly confused because Christmas is in December. Well that’s not necessarily true if you are a race fan. Our greatest day of the year is Indy 500 day.

I’ve put this fun list together twice before. You can check it out here and here. If some of these seem dated that is why. Today we will celebrate my sons graduation. I was very careful to make sure the party was on Saturday and not Sunday. While I don’t often attend the race in person, you can be sure I will be watching every second of it. Hope you enjoy our racing Christmas.

Do you have fun stories your friends and family don’t understand about your passion for the 500? I’d love to hear them.

Music of the 500

On Monday after I finished my post on qualifying I began a new post (this post) focusing on the songs about the Indianapolis 500 or that we hear during the 500. If I were more tech savvy I would put them all in a download so you could add them to a playlist. Maybe by next year I can figure that out. I had a few songs in mind and googled songs about the Indy 500 to find others. With the post taking shape in my mind I moved forward. I found some songs I liked and added them to my draft. little did I know that Beyond the Bricks would be covering this exact topic on their show.

Lol. Great minds think alike. Not only did Jake Query and Mike Thomsen cover this exact topic on their show Monday night. The song they “liked” the best was the same one I couldn’t wait to share with you. Indianapolis by Menudo is amazing. Well amazingly hysterical. You really need to see the entire video. It is ridiculously hokey and inaccurate in many ways but does speak to the fact that the Indianapolis 500 is a big deal around the globe. This young Puerto Rican band has some good footage of the race and some really awful dancing. However, it’s a new classic in my house. Jake Queary seemed especially fond of it. Make sure to check out the Beyond the Bricks podcast here.

This awesome “classic” by Menudo https://youtu.be/6WcwYOTGuuA

I had originally, before Query and Thomsen stole my thunder 😉🤣, planned to open up with the most iconic song of the Indianapolis 500, sung by the fan favorite, Jim Nabors. When Jim was first asked to sing for the opening ceremony he believed he would be singing the Star Spangled Banner. When he learned he would actually be singing Back Home Again in Indiana he had to write the words on his hand so he wouldn’t forget them. He did such a wonderful job singing he returned for the next 35 years, seldom missing. This song always brings me to tears before the Indianapolis 500. It’s one of my favorite traditions.

https://youtu.be/7wcgaRkHAWY Jim Nabors sings Back Home Again in Indiana for the last time.

In 2014, Jim Nabors sang this iconic song at the brickyard for the last time. After two years the Speedway invited Jim Cornelison to sing. He did what the previous artist couldn’t do and made the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana once again a favorite pre race tradition. Cornelison has a different flair than Nabors but nevertheless the song once again brings a tear to the eye when you hear it. I hope Jim is around for many years at the 500.

https://youtu.be/Og7fgVLj-r8 Jim Cornelison sings Back Home Again in Indiana 2019

The 500 by The Singing Hoosiers is a favorite of mine. While listening to Beyond the Bricks I learned this song was written in 1961. It sounds so much older. I assumed it was written in the 30’s or 40’s. I absolutely love it regardless. It has this great nostalgic feeling to it and makes me smile every time I hear it. As much as Back Home Again might bring a tear to my eye, The 500 makes me smile and I break out my jazz hands. Give it a listen, I’m sure you will love it too.

https://youtu.be/KeBr1WqaxMk The 500 by The Singing Hoosiers

This song about AJ Foyt, I’m not as familiar with but he is my favorite and I needed to include it.

https://youtu.be/FYELYsjCB30 I’m AJ Foyt by Rob McCuen and the Ruins

I learned about this song a couple years ago while working on George Phillips trivia contest. Didn’t win that year but I did this year! Every year George puts out this impossible trivia contest. I spend hours working on it and find other interesting things, like this song about Joe Leonard. I enjoy the contest so much and am especially proud to finally be able to say I’ve won.

https://youtu.be/n14mRnQcXSg The Legend of Joe Leonard

Not nearly as exciting but still a familiar sound is the theme song used by NBC sports for the Indy 500.

https://youtu.be/_K8Ql3zMVmU Indy 500 theme song for NBC sports

Here is the classic introduction with the Delta Force theme song. If this doesn’t get you excited for May, nothing will.

1988-2001 Delta Force theme song intros. https://youtu.be/5d19ISXfiLA

There are many more songs dedicated to the Indy 500 and dozens that reference it. Jake and Mike discuss some of them so again check out their podcast. I hope you enjoyed hearing some of my favorites and I really hope the Menudo video made you smile.

I plan to have another post here Friday. Hopefully Jake and Mike don’t steal that idea too.

If You Haven’t Cried During Qualifying Week You Aren’t Doing It Right

Wow! What a crazy weekend for us in the Nolen house. My oldest son, Matthew, graduated high school and of course the ceremony was right at the start of qualifying. As we sat in the auditorium and waited for the ceremony to start I had one AirPod in so I could listen to qualifying. First thing they did was announce the graduates that would be serving in the military. Matthew enlisted in November with the Air National Guard. Somewhere in the sea of emails we have received from the school about Covid and new procedures and class tardiness due to bad internet connection and Prom and graduation, I missed the one on Senior awards and so Matthew was not recognized during the graduation ceremony. That broke my heart. My son deserves to be recognized for his service and I missed the opportunity to make sure that was done. I was crushed. No mom of the year award for me- again. Thankfully, Matthew was not upset and we are so proud. So after shedding a few tears at graduation we headed home and I turned on qualifying as soon as I was able. By the end of the day we knew the top nine- Dixon, Herta, Kanaan, Carpenter, VeeKay, Castroneves, Palou, Hunter-Reay and Ericsson. We also knew the bottom five- Power, Kimball, De Silvestro, Enerson and Karam.

Listening to qualifying before graduation.

Sunday morning I wrote a predictions and hopes piece for my blog. Read it here. I was fairly close with my predictions and my hopes were crushed.

I also really enjoyed listening to how hopeful and optimistic Charlie Kimball was before his attempt to make the field. What a class act. I really wanted him in the field. I tweeted something out and Curt Cavin quoted my tweet and agreed. I told my husband what Curt said and when Steve responded I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere or making fun of me for liking that Curt agreed with me. Steve responded he was sincere and that it is cool to have the “Voice of The Indy 500” quote your tweet. I explained that Curt Cavin is not the Voice of the Indy 500 and Steve was greatly confused asking isn’t he the guy from Trackside with Kevin Lee. Bless him, he listens as I babble about IndyCar. I explained to Steve who/what/is the voice of the Indy 500 but also loved that Steve knew who Curt Cavin is and is familiar with the title the Voice of the Indy 500. Curt Cavin, in our house you are the “Voice of The Indy 500” and the expert on all things IndyCar. 😉

For those who don’t follow my blog, Steve doesn’t follow IndyCar so it’s just good to know he listens enough to recognize names and phrases.

So after a sleepless night I’m sure for the five drivers fighting for the last three spots it was finally time to see who was in and who was out. The three that made it in were the three I predicted, not the three I hoped for. Sage Karam made the best run and solidified his place in the field. Will Power was slower than Sage and then had a fairly hard hit with the wall. I wrongly assumed that was it for Power and that he would be on the outside looking in. Power amazingly held on to the second spot in the last row. Simona would earn the last spot in the field. Sadly, Charlie Kimball and RC Enerson did not have the speed to make the field. Charlie made the last attempt as Simona watched from her car. When we realized that Charlie did not make it and also that Simona and Paretti Autosport did I started crying. I’m honestly not sure if I was crying tears of sadness for Charlie or joy for Simona. Simona hugged a few crew members but made her way straight to Charlie and gave him a hug. It was a sweet moment. Sure hope to see Charlie back in a car soon and definitely for next years 500.

RC Enerson also had a very good outlook saying this was not the end of their story, referring to himself and the Top Gun Team, but the beginning. The team had nothing but good things to say about RC and they are hopeful to be in a race this season.

We didn’t have much time to let sink in what happened at the bottom of the field before it was time to turn our attention to the top three rows. The shootout for the top 9 cars was about to begin. Probably one of the most frustrating things was pointed out on Twitter by Paul Daly- where is all the data? I was watching on Peacock so I’m not sure if watching on NBCSN would make a difference but speeds and average speeds were shown briefly at best and was hard to follow exactly where cars were tracking. Since NTT data is the primary sponsor you would expect we should have the very best. It wasn’t awful but not as easy to follow as past years with the tracker running on the bottom of the screen.

The fast nine went out and things went as expected. Rinus VeeKay then had a great run and Ed Carpenter fell just behind VeeKay. As the only Chevys I thought perhaps they would top the charts. Tony Kanaan was slower but then Colton Herta was on the provisional pole. I was not rooting for Scott Dixon but when it came down to Herta or Dixon I was pulling for Dixon. Dixon had amazing speed and won the pole. I really wanted TK or one of the Carpenter cars. Colton just has such an easy time and with four wins already I just want to see him have to work for it more. I feel the same about Dixon but being the veteran racer I feel he appreciates it more. I was laughing saying to myself that as much as I currently love VeeKay a day is coming where I will be rooting against him too. Once VeeKay is picked up by Penske or Ganassi and heads down a similar path to Josef Newgarden I will turn my attention to the next young rookie.

So now the field is set for the Indianapolis 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I predict that Scott Dixon will be dominant all day and will be drinking the milk at the end of the 500 miles. I hope though that Tony Kanaan or someone on the Carpenter team gets that honor. As excited as I am for race day, I’m already feeling a bit let down as my tv is silent and I’m missing the long practice days. It’s for the best as I have a graduation party to prepare for but still miss the constant roar of the engines.

I hope everyone has a good week as we prepare for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Check back for a couple posts during the week to help build our excitement. Thanks for reading.

Sights, Sounds and Smells of Indy

I’m not sure why but I was very aware of the sounds and smells while at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this last weekend. Ironically IMS asked on Twitter today which is more important to you the sight or sound of the cars. Most responded that they go hand in hand. I agree I’m incredibly thankful I don’t have to choose and also that I am able to enjoy all my senses but I did wonder what was most important the sights or the sounds. Of course somewhere in the mix is the smells. They add a lot to the experience.

Edit- since I first started writing this piece I’ve seen so many people mention the smells. I guess after not being able to attend last year we are all so appreciative of all the ways the Speedway touches our senses. There is nothing quite like the smell of IndyCars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sights

  • The enormity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Cars flying by
  • Flowers moving in the wind created by the cars from cameras during the broadcast.
  • The beautiful Pagoda
  • The improvements Roger Penske has made from paint to flowers.
  • Blue sky- or clouds moving in.
  • Twitter or Facebook updates
  • Flags waving, both from the stands and more importantly from the flag stand.
  • Massive crashes and seeing drivers walk away uninjured.
  • Balloon release
  • Flyover
  • Winners drinking the milk.

Sounds

  • The cars
  • The cars
  • The cars (c’mon we all love the sound)
  • Public address
  • Play by play on radio
  • Cheering
  • Flyover
  • Crashes
  • Taps- the crowd is silent
  • Back Home Again in Indiana
  • Command to start engines
  • The cars 😉🏎

Smells

Okay I’m not good at describing the smells but between the heat on the pavement when you arrive, the smell of the ethanol and tires as you enter the track and of course the concessions there is nothing quite like it. I breathe it all in deeply. I’ve been to a monster truck event and the exhaust is way to suffocating but when outdoors and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the smell of the ethanol, along with the rubber on the track is diluted by enough fresh air to make it the perfect mix. I inhale deeply and feel my stress melt away on my exhale. I love the smells of IndyCar just as much as the sights and sounds.

So I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you love the most? Thank goodness most of us are able to enjoy them all, including feel and taste. Hope you get to enjoy them this beautiful Month of May!

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.

It’s the Month of May!

Is it May yet? Yes! What a month it has been and cars haven’t even hit the yard of bricks yet. So unlike last year, this May if full of anticipation for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 and so much has already happened before cars and teams have even arrived in Indy. Let look at what has already happened this May.

Always fly my IMS flag in May

May 1 – Before we can get too excited about the Indy 500 we had a double header at Texas. The Genesys 300 took place on Saturday. Scott Dixon won the race and is now only one race behind Mario Andretti for wins. It was Dixon’s 51st win.

May 2- The Xpel 350 was a slightly longer race than Saturday’s. It appeared perhaps Scott Dixon would tie Mario Andretti when he took the lead early in the race but it the end Dixon was fourth and Pato O’Ward earned his first IndyCar win.

Both races were enjoyable. I perhaps enjoyed race one more than others having picked Dixon for my fantasy league. I am again leading. The race itself though wasn’t overly exciting but a couple yellows and watching oval rookie Scott McLaughlin earn a second place win was enough to keep my attention. Race two started with a huge crash. Poor Conor Daly took the green flag, passing the start finish line upside down. Thankfully no one was injured. Sebastien Bourdais was involved again and was out of both races due to someone hitting him from behind. It was a tough weekend for Bourdais and the Foyt team.

After a fun start to May we learn of some sad news. Three time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser has passed away at age 87. Unser is one of only 10 drivers to have won the 500 3 times. He was also the winner of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 13 times. It is said everyone has an Uncle Bobby story but sadly I do not. I never had the opportunity to meet the man. He will be missed in the racing community. I expect there will be a nice tribute to him during the 105th Indianapolis 500 broadcast.

May 3- Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee begins nightly shows for the month of May. If you don’t already listen to this radio show I highly recommend it. You can easily listen at your convenience to the podcast. It’s a great way to keep up on the latest news. My boys laugh at me all the time as I join right in to the conversation talking back and asking questions that can’t be heard but yet are still often answered. That’s been especially true the last few days as I keep asking if Stefan Wilson will be in the 500. That one was answered.

After Trackside a new show called Beyond the Bricks will take the place of The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Now everyone knows that no one can replace the incredible knowledge and stories that Donald Davidson would share on Toga but since Donald has decided to retire a new show was started. I’ve only made it about half way through the first show so all I can really say so far is I’m grateful to Jake Query, who hosts alongside Mike Thompson for saying a heartfelt thank you to Donald from everyone who enjoyed the show. I have so enjoyed learning of the history of the 500 and fun extra stories when Donald would go off on a tangent. It was like sitting at your grandpas knee and he shared about the old times. I’m grateful for the podcasts so the wealth of knowledge Donald had will not be forgotten. I’m looking forward to listening more to Beyond the Bricks but will miss The Talk of Gasoline Alley. Donald, enjoy your retirement.

May 4- We learn some great news on Star Wars day. Stefan Wilson will return to Andretti Autosport with Lohla Sport for the 105th Indianapolis 500. As huge fans of Stefan’s late brother Justin we have always enjoyed following Stefan’s career. We’ve been fortunate to meet him on several occasions and found him to be just as kind and genuine as his brother. When he lead in the 102nd 500 I’m sure many heard my cheers. Hoping for great things for him this year.

Another amazing thing happened on the 4th. Robert Wickens was back in a race car. He drove sport car equipped with hand controls and was able to put his visor down and do what he loves best- drive fast. Wickens still hopes to return to IndyCar but is open to Formula E or Sports cars. I can’t wait for the day he is racing again.

So now as we have some time off before the GMR Grand Prix of Indy I’m guessing we won’t really noice as news will keep rolling in and excitement builds before fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It’s May folks! The most wonderful time of the year! This year we get to enjoy it.