The Wilson Brothers

I never tire of telling our stories about Justin and Stefan Wilson and after learning that Stefan Wilson will not be racing in the Indianapolis 500 this year I can’t stop running the stories in my mind so I decided to share again.

I don’t remember which race I was watching but my young boys came into the room and watched for a short time with me. As most young kids do, they loved eating at McDonalds so when they saw the McDonald’s car on the screen they wanted to know more about it and who was driving. Justin Wilson was driving and that was all it took for him to become a favorite. My oldest, Matthew, especially liked Justin. Zach was a little more drawn to Danica’s bright green GoDaddy car in his early years. Matthew never did get a McDonalds shirt at a race but a couple years later he found a Justin Wilson/Dad’s root beer shirt. It was way too big but he did not care. He loved that shirt and proudly wore it.

I believe it was the following year we joined the IMS Kid’s Club. They were having an event and we tweeted our favorite drivers hoping they would show up. James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan did not respond. Justin responded to our tweet asking when and where the event would be. He showed up and tweeted that he was there. We were first in line and as the event coordinators were getting a spot ready for him to sign autographs I overheard them saying they were so surprised Justin came. They had no idea he would be there. Seriously, the IndyCar drivers are the best. He showed up because one fan sent out a tweet.

Justin signed Matthew’s shirt and we got this awesome picture.

As the years went on we had some twitter interactions with Justin and I met him at a couple races. Justin did not make the kids club event the following year but tweeted to us that he couldn’t make it because he would be on track practicing.

Fast Forward to Milwaukee 2015. All weekend my boys and I looked for Justin. We just never seemed to be able to find him. We saw every other driver in the paddock but just couldn’t catch a break with Justin. Justin was out of that race early after his engine was smoking. When the race was over Matthew went in search of Justin. Zach and I did the track walk. Then I got the best text from Matthew. He found Justin and got a selfie. Zach and I made our way over and talked with him too. He signed Matthew’s shirt again. The selfie Matthew took is still my lock screen on my phone. (Read more about that day here especially an excerpt from an article Tony DiZinno wrote)

That would be the last time we saw Justin.

While Stefan was racing in Indy Lights we always watched to see how he did. While Stefan didn’t drive a cool McDonald’s car we didn’t care he was by far our favorite Lights driver. We loved it when he won during the 2011 season. It was also so fun to watch Stefan and Justin race together in the IndyCar Series at the Grand Prix of Baltimore in 2013.

We meet Stefan in 2016 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We tweeted we were looking for him and like his brother he tweeted back and said where we could find him. We didn’t have garage passes but he met us. That was incredibly special.

The following year Stefan gave up his ride to Fernando Alonso. I still am upset over this. He showed what an awesome team player he is but wow that was so frustrating as someone who loves Stefan and could care less about Fernando. I was able to again meet Stefan at the Speedway and cried when I told him what an incredible gesture it was to give up his seat.

In 2018, Stefan was back in the car with Andretti Autosport. Michael promised he would make good on Stefan’s willingness to give up his seat the previous year and I’m grateful Michael kept his word. Stefan qualified in the 23rd position. Quite well for someone not racing full time. He led late in the race but unfortunately did not have enough gas to make it to the end. He and Justin made history though becoming the fourth pair of brothers to lead laps during the Indianapolis 500.

Now we have learned that Stefan was not able to secure a ride for the 2019 Indianapolis 500. The Driven to Save Lives car (Stefan’s previous sponsor) has sponsored Pippa Mann and the Andretti Autosport no. 25 car was given to Conor Daly. Conor is a good driver and I understand that decision although to be honest after Stefan’s sacrifice in 2017 I think Michael could have given him a second year. What I don’t understand is why Driven to Save Lives would chose Pippa over Stefan. Pippa fail to make the race last year. She qualifies in the middle or back when she does make it and has never even finished on the lead lap. She might be a great spokeswoman for organ donation but I believe Stefan has a very powerful story too. If I were the one making decisions on the Driven to Save Lives, Clausen Marshall Team I would want Stefan for my driver. Pippa is great and I do enjoy having woman race in the Indy 500 but for me, I would chose Stefan.

Anyway, there is my story about why we will always hold a special place in our hearts for the Wilson brothers and why I feel Stefan should be in the Indy 500 field this year. Praying for a miracle, we’ve seen crazy things happen at Indy.

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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.

My thoughts on Qualifying for the 500 and a change in my tradition

My tradition for the last seven years has been to spend Pole Day at the track with my boys, currently ages 11 and 9. We don’t live in Indy so we travel home on Sunday. The new qualifying rules really make it hard for me to continue that tradition. My boys enjoy the trip and we have a good time but lets be honest they much rather spend the day at the hotel pool than the speedway. I try to make it as fun as possible but a full day at the track is exhausting even for me. How would I convince them to spend two days? So I think our tradition is about to change. This year we plan to attend the GP of Indy the weekend before qualifying and we will not attend qualifying this year. That breaks my heart. It will be my boys first race and we are all excited for that but it will also be a break in tradition and Indy is all about tradition.

That is how the changes affect me personally. How will they change the month of May?

I couldn’t believe it the year Tony Kanaan crashed on Pole Day. He crashed again on Bump Day and barely made the field. Thank goodness he had multiple opportunities to put the car in the show. I can think of a handful of drivers that must be in the 500 this year if we want to grow our sport. Helio must be in- he will be going for win number 4. TK was last years winner and a fan favorite (and my fav) he must be in. Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneueve and Kurt Busch need to be in the field. These last three will not be the ones I’m cheering for but they will draw tons of media attention. The event needs them. Marco and Graham need to be in the race for name recognition. A crash, an engine problem, a bad day, any number of things could keep them from qualifying. We’ve seen it happen. Now I suppose if we only have 33 cars attempting to make the field then we wont need to concern ourselves with the what ifs but I imagine we will have at least one or two extra cars. If one of these “extras” makes the race I don’t want to see them dropped but neither do I want Helio, TK or Graham sitting on the sidelines.

I can accept the change in my Indy traditions and I am excited for some of the new tradtions that will be started. I am also ok with a driver missing the race if after two (or four) days of qualifying he couldn’t get it to work. But one day, one chance to make the Greatest Spectacle in racing is not enough to ensure that the drivers who are meant to be are the ones in the race.

All that said if Bruno Junqueira gets pulled from the field again I will scream. That is not the answer.

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