IndyCar Drivers are the Best- Part Two

Every time we attend a race I wonder how it can come close to the fun of the previous race. We have had so many cherished interactions with drivers and I feel that this can’t be the norm and yet somehow every time we have something wonderful happen that makes the race special. We had several cool experiences this year and I hope to blog about them and submit a race review soon. For now though I have to go back to a story I love to tell about a checkered flag necklace. You can read the original post here but I will also give a quick review.

My boys have made checkered flag necklaces at the track for years. We gave a bracelet to James Hinchcliffe the week before his horrible accident in 2015. That year at the 500 we gave Ryan Briscoe a necklace to give to Hinch. Ryan gave it to Hinch in the hospital and over the years when Hinch sees us wearing ours he remembers us.

After Robert Wickens horrible crash at the 2018 Pocono race we made shirts to wear to the Gateway race and made Robert a necklace similar to the one we gave James. We saw James at the Gateway race, gave him the necklace and he said he would give it to Robbie. It wasn’t much but just wanted a way to show our support to Robert.

Today after the race we were in the garage area. We saw a few drivers and before we left, we made one last stop at the Schmidt Peterson garages. James Hinchcliffe came out and I held up my necklace and said to James, “Remember us? Can we get a picture.” James face shows that yes he does recognize us- or at least the necklace. We took the picture and told him how glad we were he made the race. As we started to leave we saw that Robert Wickens was coming towards us. I’m never timid when I see a driver, I start moving towards them and speaking before I even think about it. This is so out of my character in other areas of my life. I went right up to Robbie and started talking. I said something about how happy I was to meet him and also how I knew he would be racing again. I also said we gave James a checkered flag necklace to give to him. He looked at mine and said, “Oh yeah, I got it.” I thanked him for the picture and said again how great it was to meet him.

It blows my mind. The drivers are amazing. I gave the necklace to Hinch at Gateway in August. He recognized me and said he was flying to see Robbie after the race and he would give it to him. So he put it somewhere safe, packed it in a bag and brought it to Robbie. Why? James doesn’t know me, Robbie doesn’t know me, but a fan asked and the driver delivered. IndyCar Drivers Are The Best! The way they interact with the fans is just so impressive. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to deliver a small handmade gift from a stranger.

As fans who really don’t know the drivers it is so hard when a driver has an accident or a struggle of some type. You want to reach out and let the driver know you are thinking of them, praying for them and are concerned, wishing you could help. When they respond on social media or go the extra step and deliver a checkered flag necklace it means so much. Hopefully, the sentiment is felt on both sides because all we wanted Robert Wickens to know is that we were so concerned for him and praying that he would be able to walk, drive and race again. I’m so grateful to James Hinchcliffe for delivering that necklace and message to Robbie, just as I’m forever grateful to Ryan Briscoe for delivering one to James Hinchcliffe.

So often I am asked why I like IndyCar, it’s just a bunch of cars driving in circles. Well we know it’s so much more than that. But what really makes me a fan is the people in the sport. The drivers are the face of IndyCar and they go above and beyond, but it’s also the team personnel and owners. I can’t tell you how many times Mario Andretti or Roger Penske have stopped and taken a minute to talk with us. Curt Cavin has given me garage passes. Scott on the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team always takes time to say hello at a race and let me know how James and Robert are doing.

I’m so grateful to all the drivers for allowing us into their personal lives. Robert doesn’t need to post his progress on Social Media and yet every week or so we are given an update and allowed to see how he is doing. James was also very open on his recovery. They don’t need to deliver checkered flag necklaces, they could be thrown in the garbage and not thought of again but instead time was taken to deliver a message that the fans love and care for the drivers. It’s a two way street, we love the drivers because they are great with the fans, they love the fans because so many of us respect and care for them. I love IndyCar because IndyCar Drivers are the Best!

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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.

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.

What We Learned During the Rain Delay

I was so excited for a rain race and we had a short one but it was raining too hard for the race to continue. Of course this is disappointing but it is also a great time to learn more about how awesome the Verizon IndyCar drivers really are. So let’s go over what we learned during today’s rain delay.

10- Twitter friends are the best. There is more time to look up and send tweets when the race is under red flag. I so enjoy the chance to talk with my IndyCar friends. You guys make racing even more fun.

9- Paul Tracy is still the man. He couldn’t understand why a yellow was called (some drivers felt the same way). He was ready for them to go green and keep Racing. He might be getting older but his heart is still that of a true racer.

8-Tony Kanaan is willing to call PT on that and offered him to take his car for a spin and see how he feels after a few laps. I love the way the drivers call each other out. Put on the suit PT and give it a go and we will see if you still feel the same.

7- We now know what Jordan King looks like. When we are under a rain delay there is plenty of time to interview everyone. Kevin Lee interviewed Jordan King and now I will be able to spot him at a race. Thanks Kevin! (This picture is not from today’s interview but from Jordan’s twitter page)

6- I never get tired of having drivers or teams tweet me back. A J Foyt Racing responded to a tweet I sent to my friend Lisa when I said I’d love to see TK win the 500 for AJ Foyt Racing. How cool are IndyCar teams. Love how fan friendly our sport is.

5- Marco is a new man this season. We’ve been seeing better results but we actually saw him with a genuine smile during an interview. He is feeling much better about himself and because of that we are seeing more of his true potential. I’m excited to see how this season goes for him.

4- Racing in the sand is similar to racing in rain. Ed Jones raced in Dubai and while he isn’t familiar with rain conditions there the sand prepared him for the rain as it created slippery race conditions and poor visibility. Who knew?

3- Apparently there are other sports that IndyCar and some of the IndyCar drivers even follow those sports (can you tell I don’t). Josef Newgarden challenged James Hinchcliffe that his hockey team would beat the Canadian hockey team. The loser has to bake a cake for the winner and deliver it during an autograph session. NBCSN better have the cameras ready when that happens. I want to see that cake.

2- Oriol Servia is as awesome as ever. He will be attempting to qualify for the 102nd Indy 500 and I have no doubt he will make the field but until then he is driving the pace car for the IndyCar Series. Thanks to rain delays we had a chance to watch an interview with him and once again we are reminded of how fun the drivers (past and present) are. I miss having him drive full time but am so thankful he will run the 500 and live that he drives the pace car. Servia believes the safe decision was to red flag the race.

1- If you watched today’s coverage you already know the BEST AND MOST FUN THING we learned. JAMES HINCHCLIFFE JOINED AN ELITE CLUB! For a couple years James has stated that drivers occasionally need to relieve themselves while in the race car. While this might sound disgusting it’s actually encouraged by their doctors. Their bladders can be badly damaged if they crash with a full bladder. So while no driver wants to pee themselves it is sometimes necessary. I imagine that many felt the need as it was a cold rainy day and they weren’t sweating. The water needs to go somewhere. Hinch admitted that he was begging for a chance to get out of the car during the first red. They went yellow for a brief period before returning to red flag conditions and drivers were released from their cars. Sadly, it was too late for Hinch who relieved himself under the yellow. I laughed out loud as he told his story but also completely understand. I’m always the first on a road trip to beg for a pit stop. It’s no fun needing to go and not being able. Hinch has said for years he would most likely join the ranks of Dario Franchitti and Will Power and today he did. Thank you Hinch for you honesty and fun story telling abilities. We will remember this red flag race for years because of you. Watch his interview with Kevin Lee here. I promise you will enjoy it.

So while we would all prefer a full race with no delays, it’s always interesting when we have a rain delay and get to learn more about the IndyCar drivers. Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It should be interesting.

The Month of May

It’s finally here- The Month of May! But this isn’t just any May this is May 2016, this is the month that the Indianapolis 500 reaches a major milestone- The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500!  It’s going to be a great month. 
While you can find many blogs and articles on the history of the Indy 500, my blog is of a more personal nature so let’s take a look at my past Months of May

  • May 1985- I watch my first Indy 500 with my dad. 
  • May 1993- First time at the Speedway when cars are on track. We are there to see A. J. Foyt announce his retirement. It was bittersweet. 
  • May 1994- I attend Pole day with a girlfriend. 
  • May 1995- My boyfriend (now husband) insisted we attend the wedding of a friend. I suggested we skip the wedding and attend the reception so I could watch the end of the race. Steve thought that was rude and insisted we attend the ceremony. The marriage did not last and the groom eventually became my brother-in-law, marring my sister in 1999. I knew I should not have attended that wedding. 
  • May 2003- My son, Matthew, watches (on tv) his first 500. Okay so he was only 3 months old but it was still fun to introduce him to the 500.
  • May 2004- Another fun race day, watched with my dad and Matthew at my parents house. 
  • May 2005- Zachary’s first Indy 500. He was 6 months old. Hmm a 6 month old and a toddler. I don’t remember much about that race. 
  • May 2006- The last year I share the experience with my dad. Dad was diagnosed with melanoma and died in February 2007. 
  • May 2008- It’s been too long since I’ve been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I decide to drive down for Pole Day. I bring Matthew along. He is five. We had a great time. 
  • May 2009- Matthew and I decide to go to Indy again for Pole Day. This time we drive down the night before and stay in a hotel with a pool. 
  • May 2010- Pole Day again but this time both Matthew and Zachary join me. We spend the whole weekend in Indy. It was much more relaxed. 
  • May 2011- Pole Day and a visit to the Speedway on Sunday too. The boys are members of the kids club and we meet Justin Wilson among others. Justin was Matthews favorite driver so this was an exciting day. I also met many of my Twitter friends. 
  • May 2012- My sister and nephew joined us for their first trip to the Speedway. Pole day and kids club again this year. 
  • May 2013- The boys and I attend Pole Day.  
  • May 2014- We break from our tradition and attend the Grand Prix of Indy. The boys enjoyed their first race. 
  • May 2015- We again attended the GP of Indy. We met James Hinchcliffe and gave him a checkered flag bracelet the boys had made. 

          Then we attended our FIRST INDY 500.  Fantastic day!

  • May 2016- We are unable to attend the 500 but will be at the GP of Indy. 

So here are some of the things I’m looking forward to this May. 

  • Trackside is on every weeknight and The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson returns. I enjoy both of these radio programs. I really need to live in Indy so I can take Donald’s class on the 500. That would be a blast. 
  • For the 9th year I will spend time with my boys at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will once again attend the GP of Indy. While we only attended the one 500, we all enjoy our time at the Speedway. I know it is something they will always remember and even though they are not the super fans I want them to be they have a ton of fun during our weekend. 
  • I plan to visit the Foyt Vault. With two tween boys in tow this won’t be the exact experience I’m looking for but I plan to purchase some Foyt wines and love that I won’t have to pay shipping. We will probably be on the look out for some Hinchtown Hammer Down as well as Fuzzy’s vodka. My boys might start to think mom drinks too much until they realize I want the bottles for decoration more than the content- although I’m sure over time the bottles will be drained. 
  • I’m hoping George Phillips of Oilpressure blog will have his annual Indy 500 trivia contest. I did horrible last year but had so much fun trying to find the answers. 
  • Towards the end of the month things get really busy. Friday, May 27, Steve turns 50. Saturday we are having a birthday party. Hopefully no one stays too late because Sunday I will be up early and camped out in front of my big screen tv with surround sound watching the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Is there any month better than the Month of May?  I don’t think so. 

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama plus bonus Indy 500 talk

The race at Barber was the second race this season without a yellow flag. While that might sound like good to some it actually makes for dull racing. Passing was tough so we basically watched Simon Pagenaud lead, saw some passing farther back and green flag pit stops. Scott Dixon got spun around and lost his track position, he regained some positions and finished tenth. Juan Pablo Montoya started last but made his way through the field to finish fifth. JPM might not be my favorite driver (in fact he is my least favorite) but you can’t deny he has talent. Graham Rahal though was the bright spot in the race making the last laps exciting. I was yelling and cheering for him as he passed Pagenaud to take the lead. Unfortunately, he damaged his front wing and Pagenaud regained the front position. Graham held on to finish a very respectable second. Hopefully the Hondas are figuring out their issues. 

Barber looks beautiful on TV and I would love to attend that race in the near future. NBCSN did a great job as always. I really enjoyed having practice aired and live qualifying even though I watched later on the DVR. All in all a good clean race but missing some excitement, had Graham won that would have changed things. 

Next up is the Grand Prix of Indy. My boys and I will be attending, arriving in Indy on Friday. They are excited because they get to miss a day of school. I’m excited to return to the Speedway. Sadly, we won’t be attending The 500 this year- more about that in a later post. 

Speaking of the Indy 500, we received great news this week. Oriol Servia will compete with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.  Servia has always been a driver I liked but I appreciate him even more after drove Justin Wilson’s car in the 2015 season finale. Servia is a good driver and I expect him to do well. 

Even more exciting was the news that Stefan Wilson will also be competing. Stefan will be driving for KV Racing Technology and will be driving the No. 25 car.  The news literally brought tears to me eyes. My family loved Justin Wilson. (Read about it here) I was thrilled when I learned his brother Stefan would be driving in the 500. Stefan is parterning with the Indiana Donor Network and a program named “Driven2SaveLives” which promotes organ, tissue and eye donation. Justin was an organ donor and his donation saved five lives. Through the program Stefan and the Indiana Donor Network hope to sign up 2,500 new donors. I already am an organ donor, are you?  Sign up here-Indianadonornetwork.org I’m sure this will be an emotional month for Stefan. I am just as sure that he will be on everyone’s favorite list for the race. From what I’ve seen of Stefan he is just as kind and generous as Justin was and I sure hope this leads to more racing for him. 

So after two caution free (and a bit dull) races we will move on to the GP of Indy. Even it is goes caution free it will be amazing. I will be at one of my favorite places with my two sons sharing my passion for IndyCar. I can’t wait!

Indy 500 Media Day at the Milwaukee Mile

When the boys and I left Indy after the GP of Indy I was bummed that we wouldn’t be returning. We are usually there for time trials but switched things up this year and even though we had a fantastic time it was depressing knowing we wouldn’t be back this May. Then I got an email that made me smile. It said that Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell would be at the Milwaukee Mile on May 20th and you could walk the track with them. I immediately called my friend, Kristen, and made plans to attend. I considered taking the boys out of school to join me but they already missed a day to attend the GP of Indy so I decided against it. Then in the meantime plans changed and James Hinchcliffe would be there instead of Townsend Bell.
Kristen and I followed our usual race weekend schedule which involves a pedicure. Kristen is not a huge fan so a pedicure on the schedule helps make the day more fun for her–I enjoy it too! Then we headed to the mile. Of course the media was there doing their thing but I got to meet Tony DiZinno so that was cool. I love meeting the people I follow on Twitter. When they wrapped things up we had a chance to get autographs and pictures before the track walk. Ed was great and I got an autograph and a picture with him. I had a bottle of Fuzzy’s vodka that I hoped to have him sign but I didn’t want it on the walk so I left it in the car. Before I got a chance to meet James Hinchcliffe the track tour began. Ed and Hinch sat in the back of a minivan and everyone else followed along as they answered questions about the track. It was fun and great to hear their perspective. Do you ever break in turn two- James answered, -Only if something is wrong or to avoid something that went wrong in front of you. Some tire marks were on the wall and jokes were made about who they belonged to. As we walked around I eventually faded to the back of the crowd because as much as I wanted to hear the conversation I also wanted to enjoy being on the track and take it all in. It’s a track with so much history and I wanted a time to reflect on that while there. I took a couple pictures and made my way back up to the group. When we reached the start/finish line the car stopped and Ed and Hinch answered some more questions. We were then told that Ed needed to leave but Hinch could stay and answer more questions. Before Ed left I wanted him to sign my Fuzzy’s vodka. Kristen, dear friend that she is, ran to the car to get the bottle and when I asked Ed to sign it he remembered I had mentioned it earlier. I love that he took the time (when he needed to be leaving) to sign a second thing for me.
Kristen and I returned to listen to Hinch. The Q &A went on for awhile and the time was getting late. I needed to get home to meet the boys after school. I hated to interrupt the questions for an autograph but I had made a collage print of pictures of Ed and James and really didn’t want to leave till I had it signed by both. I took advantage of a half second lull in questions and said, “James, I’m so sorry but I have to go get my boys off the bus and I would really love an autograph.” I explained that I had this collage made with pictures of him and Ed from last year at the mile. He took the picture and signed it and pointed out that he was in front of Ed on the track. Kristen reminded me to tell him about Zach’s crab so I told him how my son named his hermit crab James Pinchcliffe. James looked right at me and said with all sincerity, “Tell him I said Hello.” It was such a simple thing but I truly felt that he cared about his fans and about a young kid named Zach. I thanked him, wished him luck in the 500 and shook his hand. Then Kristen and I made our way back to the car.
As we walked back it was Kristen who mentioned how incredible it was that we just met two of the 33 people that will be racing in the Indianapolis 500. James had mentioned it during the Q&A that most sports have many athletes but even in the biggest race of the year only 33 will be racing. Kristen said that it is such a small group but that it is amazing how approachable they are and how personable. This was the first time she met any drivers but she was quite impressed. I think we might be making a greater effort to make the autograph session at Milwaukee this year.
She pointed out something I already knew- that the Indycar drivers are awesome. Their willingness to meet fans, sign autographs, answer tweets etc has always been a priority for them. Kristen talked about her son wanting to join twitter so he could follow some Major League Baseball players and she was reluctant because she didn’t know if the content would be appropriate. My boys are not on twitter but if they followed the Indycar drivers I wouldn’t worry a bit. They are all so family friendly and make an effort to stay that way. I’m very grateful for that.
As we left the track you actually cross over the track well I pulled out just enough to look like I was racing down the back stretch in my minivan. We grabbed a couple pictures and then made our way home. What a fun day.

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