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.

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.

Bob Jenkins

While sitting in the airport I learned some sad news. My family had just spent a wonderful weekend in Fort Myers Beach for my sons 18th birthday. We fly space available so Steve and the boys made it on the flight home but there weren’t enough seats so I was stuck at the airport. Between checking the status on my next flight several times I scrolled through Facebook and learned that Bob Jenkins has brain cancer.

Doug Boles has a new online show called Behind the Bricks. I hadn’t yet listened to the first episode but immediately listened to the second one to learn Bob’s news.

Bob woke up on Christmas night with a horrible headache and went to the ER. At first he was diagnosed with a stroke but it became evident that he had two malignant tumors on his brain. He will be undergoing both chemo and radiation to fight this battle. While he hopes to do some work for the public address at the Indy 500 it will be a greatly reduced role. He is hopeful he will beat the cancer and calls on his fellow fans of the 500 to lift him up in prayer. I ask that of you too.

I would guess that I first became a fan of Bob when I watched the IndyCar races on Versus. I’ve always enjoyed the races he has called and he felt like family when I heard his voice. While I didn’t start watching the full series until the early 2000’s I had been following the 500 since 1985 so I was familiar with Bob and it made following the season an easy transition for me. I’ve loved when he emceed the 500 banquets and always tune in for the qualifying draw for the 500. In more recent years we have even been able to hear Bob at Gateway Motorsports Park. He is a huge part of what I love about IndyCar and I always smile when I hear his voice. When I hear his voice as I enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I get chills. He is as big a tradition for me as other pre race ceremonies.

While watching Behind the Bricks, Bob admitted he can cry at the drop of a hat. It was about all I could do to not cry as I learned the news in the airport.

Bob, prayers have been and will be said for you. Thank you for making my IndyCar and Indy 500 experiences so special. I know that will continue. I believe you will win this battle and we will enjoy many more 500’s in the future. Thank you for sharing this news with your racing family. I will be praying.

“There is nothing like Bob Jenkins voice to make a race fan feel they are in the right spot in the month of May.”- Doug Boles

First Trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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

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

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

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

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

Is this good enough?

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

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

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

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

Steve refused to stand in the sun ☀️

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

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

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

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

Tony Kanaan

For as long as my boys can remember I have been a Tony Kanaan fan. AJ Foyt was my first favorite followed by Arie Luyendyk. When Arie retired from racing at the Indy 500 I needed a new favorite. I don’t remember actively looking for a new favorite. It just happened naturally. Tony was always impressive at Indy and I immediately liked him. He was my Indy 500 pick for many years. In 2013 when he finally won the race I was beyond thrilled.

So it is odd that Tony Kanaan is one of the few drivers I have never really met. I got his autograph once but he barely looked up from the photo book to notice me. Just another fan asking. He didn’t realize I was one of his biggest fans, well maybe not biggest but a long time fan and he had always been my favorite. Zach was fortunate enough to meet him at Road America and got a great selfie with him. Hopefully I can do the same one day, maybe even without crying.

Zach meets Tony Kanaan.

I met both AJ and Arie long after they retired so maybe the same will be true with Tony. If my experience with Tony comes even close to the neat conversations I had with AJ and Arie it will be worth the wait.

First thing Arie asked me was if I was a Tony Kanaan fan. I responded I was an Arie fan before Tony.

I never saw Tony Kanaan win a race in person but we were at the Bommarito 500 last year and saw Tony get a podium win. It was a great day for Tony and AJ Foyt Racing.

Tony on the podium!

My first IndyCar memorabilia are Tony Kanaan shirts. I have Big Machine vodka even though I’m not a huge vodka fan. I have Tony Kanaan, Big Machine hand sanitizer. I purchased a Cabernet Sauvignon featuring Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500 win from Foyt Family Wines. Safe to say I love and support all things Tony Kanaan.

2010 qualifying at Indy
Boys and I celebrating Tony today.

When Tony announced he would be joining AJ Foyt Racing I was thrilled. I was extremely hopeful that TK would be a wonderful asset to the struggling Foyt team. I was also thrilled to have my original and absolute favorite driver, AJ, team up with my current favorite. Since AJ and Arie have some history it’s fun having AJ and Tony together. I love the respect AJ has for Tony and I’m grateful for the partnership. I wish they had done better but I remain hopeful for the Foyt teams future.

So as the hour nears for Tony’s last ride I have mixed emotions. I’m excited to watch him race today after yesterday’s 9th place finish and I’m sad to know it could be his last race. My son came in and asked if I was crying yet. Well I may have teared up a bit when we took some pictures earlier.

Tony, have a great race today. Enjoy every minute. Hope we see you back in 2021 for the Indianapolis 500 and other races. Thank you for being such a fun driver to cheer for. I never grow tired of watching you pass several cars on restarts. Thank you for the leadership roles you had among the drivers, including a heartbreaking day when we lost Dan Wheldon. Thank you for the laughs and pranks pulled over the years that just endeared us to you even more. Yep, here come the tears.

The One Where We All Watched From Home

For many of you this years running of the 104th Indianapolis 500 is a huge disappointment. You had planned to be at the Speedway sitting in your regular spots, chatting with friends, cheering the drivers and enjoying a pork tenderloin. I disappointed for those of you who want to be there. My Indy 500 traditions are a bit different. I have only attended twice in 2015 and 2019. Memorial Day is a busy weekend at my house as my husbands birthday falls on the 27th. He is not a fan so we celebrate on Saturday with him (regardless of the date) and watch the race on Sunday. I supply plenty of snacks to lure my family in so they watch some of the race with me. We also have a family pool for the winner.

Don’t misunderstand though. I still have a huge love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My boys and I attend at least one weekend every May. First it was for qualifying and more recently the GP of Indy. Until this year we never missed a road course race at Indy. Even when we drive through town on Spring Break I look for that small piece of 465 where you can see the pagoda from the highway. We never stop but I make sure I see the beautiful pagoda and remind myself I will be down soon and stand in her shadow as we enjoy the road race or qualifying weekends.

Even with my love of Indy I was hesitant to attend my first 500. The crowds seemed overwhelming. Parking sounded horrible. The weather could make the day miserable. In 2015 we decided it was time to see it in person. Mike Knapp offered to help us navigate the day and we couldn’t have had a better day. Weather was perfect, amazing finish even if it wasn’t the driver we wanted and plenty of friends. We thoroughly enjoyed the pre race festivities and the roar of 33 cars flying by – well words can’t really describe. The 2019 race was very similar and I’m so thankful we were able to attend.

There is a lot though that you miss from the actual race when at the track and for me personally my tradition is watching from home. It’s how I enjoy the race. It was how I planned to watch in 2020 even before the pandemic hit. Now it is everyone’s plan. Fans are not allowed at the race and many are extremely disappointed. Well it’s not all bad. There are some benefits of watching from home.

The two biggest benefits are being able to follow the race much easier and air conditioning!

Even with my scanner or the IndyCar radio broadcast on I enjoy seeing the cars being discussed. I enjoy the replays and I immensely enjoy the pre race specials that are put together with behind the scenes stories of the drivers and teams. Back Home Again in Indiana is one of my favorite pre race traditions and I loved hearing it at the track but I love seeing Jim Cornelison and seeing the band and the drivers. I could hear it at the Speedway but not really see it. I’ve sat near turn one and turn two. I can see lots of race action but I see much more on TV. Side by side coverage allows me to not miss too much during commercials and I can even pause for a bathroom break. At the Speedway I wore my big bulky headphones into the restroom. If a great pass is made or one of our favorites has a mishap or takes the lead I can call the family in and replay it for them. I truly enjoy watching the race at home.

I watch in a room we call our sunroom. We have a 60 inch TV and the most comfortable couch ever. I make a taco dip with cream cheese, veggies and chips and make sure the family watches at least the start. If it’s raining I am dry and enjoy the pre race show. If it’s hot I turn up the air conditioning and keep comfortable. My seats at IMS have not had backs. I’m aching by the time the green flag drops. Even though our first race was only in the high 70’s, lower 80’s the sun made it feel much hotter. The boys needed a break during the 2015 race and we walked from our seats to the fountain to dip their feet and missed about 50 laps of racing. I was prepared that could happen but for someone who watches every minute and even takes notes during the race I hated missing out some of the action. There is something to be said for watching indoors.

When the race is over there will be no fighting the crowds or long walks back to the car. You won’t need to shower before dinner or even wait in long lines with a million other race fans to get a seat at a table. Your WiFi won’t have any issues and you will be able to tweet and update Facebook immediately.

Now I know a few of the things I’ve addressed are also things Roger Penske has addressed. Roger has added big screen TV’s and 5G to the facility. He has spruced our beautiful track up more than we could imagine with new signage, paint and flowers. I’m sure the on site experience this year would have been better than any previous year. Hopefully, some of us can experience it in October. Until then I hope those of you who regularly attend the Indy 500 can appreciate some of the things I’ve mentioned above and enjoy the race from home. My heart breaks for those of you who are missing your traditions. Traditions that might go back 50 years or more. I truly understand the disappointment of not being there. I made a trip down in May just to walk by and peek in the gates, dinner at Dawson’s and meet up with a few friends. If you can’t stand the thought of not being there then go. Hear the cars, see the fans, smell the rubber. No one can take that from us. If a trip isn’t an option then I promise you will still enjoy this race on TV. I’ve been watching since 1985 and every race still feels like Christmas morning.

Roger sent a letter to ticket holders and Indy 500 fans. He is eager to get us all back doing what we love.

Dear Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan,

I will miss you on Sunday. 

Believe me, there is no one more than me who wanted fans to be able to watch the 104th Running of the Indy 500 in person.

It is disappointing to run the event without all of you here, but I know our drivers are determined and ready to put on a world-class show for everyone watching at home. 

Especially now, during these difficult times, gathering with friends and loved ones for cherished traditions means so much. Hundreds of thousands of fans return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every year, savoring the final note of “Back Home Again in Indiana” and cheering for some of the world’s greatest drivers. The roar of the crowd goes with the roar of the engines. I wanted you here.

For Indianapolis and Indiana, in general, the Indy 500 means so much. This is especially true for our Race Day staff and local businesses in Indianapolis, who count on the Month of May to boost their income and take care of their families. 

But given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Marion County, running the race without fans was the right decision. 

My family and I purchased the Speedway and INDYCAR for the long-term. As much as I wanted to open our gates, even at 25 percent capacity, protecting our fans and “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the long term is more important.

When fans return in 2021, you will see many of the improvements we’ve made, including more than 30 new LED video boards, 5G connectivity and refreshed concession stands and restrooms. The winning driver and car are now lifted atop Victory Podium, allowing more fans to see the iconic post-race celebration. More improvements, all focused on our fans, are on the way.

When I was 14 years old, my father took me to the Speedway to watch the race. It was 1951, and Lee Wallard won it. I was able to put on a helmet and sit in a race car. I’ll never forget that experience. That special day shaped the rest of my life and made me who I am. It’s why I care so much about the Speedway and INDYCAR racing. It’s why the fan experience will always be my top priority. 

Thank you for understanding, and I look forward to seeing you next May. 

And drivers – start your engines.

Roger Penske

With Roger at the helm we know that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in good hands. We will return and it will be better than ever. Until then I hope you enjoy the race this year even if it is a huge change from your regular traditions. Happy Race Day everyone!

Let me know your favorite traditions or what you will miss the most.

Marco Pole-Oh!

When deciding what to wear this morning I did not choose my Marco Andretti shirt. I did not want to do anything to jinx his chances of winning the pole. Now I don’t really believe that I could have jinxed him him but it seemed to unreal to believe that Marco would win and in the end I decided to not take the chance. I wore my 100th running shirt and laughed to myself wondering if perhaps I was jinxing Alexander Rossi. Yikes! Maybe I did.

Marco Andretti was fastest in qualifying on day one of qualifications. He has always been a strong contender at the Indianapolis 500 and nearly won his first race at the track. Sometimes it appears Marco is his own worst enemy. He practices well but when it’s time to qualify he struggles and often doesn’t perform well during a race. The Indianapolis 500 is one race where he does show his true potential though and we have seen good speed and results from him there.

Marco has had four podium finishes at Indy but let’s be honest- no one remembers those. Only winners are remembered. Perhaps his 2006 second place comes to mind because he was so close to winning but I honestly can’t remember the others.

Marco has had Bryan Herta working with him the last few years. Bryan was behind Dan Weldon’s 2011 win and Alexander Rossi’s 2016 win. I’m sure hoping Bryan can work his magic and pull out another win with Marco!

So today I did some work to get the boys ready for school which begins tomorrow here at home- remote learning for my sophomore and senior. Then I sat down ready to watch the fast nine. Takuma Sato had a great run and held the top stop for a couple runs. Graham Rahal struggled a lot and had the slowest speed. Alex Palou held his own as did Rinus VeeKay. Great results for the rookies in the field. Scott Dixon had a great run and I would not have been surprised if he won the pole. James Hinchcliffe did not perform as hoped for the first Andretti car out. Alexander Rossi was the slowest of the fast nine. It was not looking so good for Andretti. Ryan Hunter-Reay was faster than other teammates but didn’t come close to Dixon’s pace. I felt sick as Marco went out and took the green flag. He had been so fast but would he hold on? His first lap was faster than Dixon’s but his second and third were a bit slower. I could not stand the thought of Marco losing out by just a few hundredths of a second but he didn’t. It was Dixon that lost out. Marco won the pole! Marco’s average speed was 231.068 as compared to Scott Dixon’s 231.051. History was made folks and it was amazing to watch. It is absolutely not fair that fans were not there because the roar in the stands would be so much louder than we could have imagined.

Many believe that Marco is only racing because his name is Andretti. I have always been a Marco fan. He might get in his head and hold himself back but I’ve always believed he has the talent to win. Marco has won twice before, 2006 in Sonoma and 2011 in Iowa. I admit I’ve thought in the last few years that maybe he should do like Ed Carpenter and just run the ovals. Those seem to be his strong point. He proved that today on the biggest oval. I’m a fan though and I’m thankful he is running full time.

I was thrilled to watch Marco win that pole. It was so close and that just added to the drama. My eyes teared up as we learned he was indeed faster that Scott Dixon. Amazing! Ha! Take that all you Marco haters. I say all the time that of course a win at Indy is the ultimate goal but winning the pole also puts you in the history books. You will always be known as a Indianapolis 500 Pole Winner. There is something to be said for that. Great job Marco!

Now just 500 miles to go!

Ryan Hunter-Reay congratulating Marco.
James and his creepy mask!
Father and son
Yep Marco! I was crying too.

During the afternoon practice NBCSN Gold showed reaction around Indy. Fans gathered outside the track all cheered. Watching the reaction from the Penske garage was priceless. Such a popular driver winning the Pole. It was amazing. So wish I could have been there! History was made!

Make sure you check out the afternoon practice because there was also an interview with Mario. His smile says it all! What a great day for the Andretti family!

Congratulations Marco! 500 miles to go! Go get them!