Justin Wilson’s Tweet

Every year shortly after midnight a tweet is sent out from the late Justin Wilson’s Twitter account. It is a simple message just saying Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing the tweet every year and we receive a small gift from a favorite driver. Justin’s brother, Stefan, has said that they don’t know how long the tweet is set to repeat but I hope it stays permanently.

Today after seeing the message I thought about Justin and how great he was both in the car and with the fans. He was our favorite driver. Hmm? I actually say that about a handful of drivers. Can you have multiple favorites?

As a young girl my best friend was a girl named Jenny. Jenny was born on the same day I was and we loved playing on the swing set and with our Tiffany Taylor dolls. My family moved away but we remained friends for several years, writing letters and occasionally visiting in person. Eventually, we lost touch with each other but I will always remember her as my best friend.

During my high school and college years my best friend and roommate was Cindi. Cindi still remains a very close friend but our lives have moved in different directions. We’ve recently been talking more but we went nearly 20 years with very little contact. However, when I introduce her I say she is my best friend.

Currently, and for the last nearly two decades, Kristen is my best friend. We raised our kids together, are involved in several activities together and our husbands are friends. Kristen is the one I call when I have news to share, good or bad. She is definitely a best friend.

Of course, my sister Pam, has always been my best friend and confidant. I also have several woman from my church who have been there for me in so many ways. Can you really choose just one best friend?

If choosing a best friend is hard then how can you ever choose a favorite IndyCar driver?

A J Foyt is the reason I am a fan. I would not be following this sport if not for first reading his biography. Shortly after that I began watching the Indianapolis 500. A couple years later I attended Time Trials and saw AJ take his final laps on Pole Day 1993 as he retired. I had the pleasure of meeting AJ a couple brief times but one year at Road America I was able to enjoy a short conversation with him and bawled like a baby after because I was beyond thrilled to finally meet AJ and thank him for introducing me to IndyCar. I will always consider AJ to be my favorite.

After AJ retired I began following Arie Luyendyk. Arie was very different than AJ and I had more of a crush on Arie and his beautiful hair so I liked him for completely different reasons. Arie was fast and still holds the speed record at Indy. I did not cry when I met Arie so I guess he is a favorite but not the favorite.

After Arie, Tony Kanaan was the driver I followed most closely. I liked Tony from the start, long before I even realized how popular he really was with the fans. Tony is a blast to watch on the track and a prankster off the track. I did cry when he won the Indy 500 in 2013. I have not had the pleasure of really meeting Tony but he was always my pick for winning the Indy 500.

My sons had their own favorites. After a quick crush on Danica Patrick, Zach quickly chose James Hinchcliffe as his favorite. Any reader of my blog can quickly point out several reasons why we all consider James to be a favorite. He is also the driver we probably know the best and he will recognize us at a race. Matthew chose a different driver. He chose someone who was a bit quieter than James or any of the previously mentioned drivers. Someone who was incredibly talented and let his driving and leadership skills speak for him rather than being a prankster or flashy. The driver Matthew chose was Justin Wilson.

When Matthew chose Justin I liked that choice but honestly didn’t know too much about him. Justin was driving the McDonald’s car so that was what first attracted Matthew. We made a point of trying to meet him at a kids club event and Justin showed up because of a tweet I sent saying I hoped he would be there. He was unaware of the event but I sent the details and he showed up. He made us fans for life that day. Over the next few years he never disappointed. Justin always took time to talk with fans in person or answering tweets. He won on the track with different teams and one can only imagine how amazing he would have done with Andretti Autosport. When Justin lost his life in the Pocono race it hit my family hard. Matthew had talked with Justin just a month earlier at the Milwaukee race. Justin signed Matthew’s shirt for the second time (the first was nearly faded) and took an incredible selfie with him (which remains my lock screen on my phone). Matthew walked in after learning of his death and handed me his shirt. Matthew wore that shirt all the time but now he wanted to give it to me. I struggled for several days feeling very sad and depressed. Wishing I could do more for the family and IndyCar community. It’s odd to grieve someone you don’t really know and yet know so well. It was just a heartbreaking time. I don’t know any other way to describe Justin than as our favorite driver.

If you are counting I’m up to five drivers that are favorites and with the exception of Tony Kanaan in an Indy 500 only car none of them are currently racing so it’s time for a new favorite. I have a few I’m keeping my eye on. Rinus VeeKay and David Malukas are among them. They have big shoes to fill.

So how do you feel? Do you have multiple favorites? Or is a favorite just that “a” favorite and you can only have one? Today after checking Twitter and seeing the now famous tweet I smiled and remembered how much we loved Justin. I know he will always remain on the top of our favorite list.

Will Power still Impressive

Let me start by saying I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with my blogging this summer. No excuses really, just busy with Matthew finishing his training with the Air National Guard and getting ready for school. Zach entered his Senior year and enjoys his job at Sonic. We usually attend the race at WTT Raceway but that was the weekend we moved Matthew to SIU. Ironically, his roommate drove up for the race. It was super tempting to make a last minute decision to attend also but with Steve with us and the threat of rain we remained in the Carbondale area and watched on TV. I regretted that decision when Will Power made history by tying Mario Andretti for the most poles but was glad for our decision when the race was red flagged for over two hours due to rain.

This past weekend the NTT IndyCar Series wrapped up its season at Laguna Seca. Five drivers were still eligible for the championship but in reality it was really down to Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. The funny part is I was rooting for Will Power. How many times have we seen a race where Will Power wins the pole, dominates the race and wins? More times than I can count and more times than I care to recall but he doesn’t do it as much as he used to and more recently it’s his teammates that are dominating the race so when Will win the pole I was thrilled. Sadly, IndyCar ruined it for me by announcing it on my phone notification before I was able to watch qualifying. I try so hard to stay off social media when I can’t watch live so it was disappointing to glance at my phone and see who won from my Lock Screen. Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch.

Qualifying

So while IndyCar ruin the pole results, I didn’t know how everyone else did. While we know that Josef should have qualified much farther up I was glad to see that he would have to fight his way up from the back. Josef brought out a red flag when he messed up on the corkscrew and that put him starting in the second to last position. The red flag also caused havoc with Scott Dixon’s qualifying attempt and Scott did not advance to the fast 12. Power’s race was looking a lot more straightforward now.

Power advanced to the fast 6 and won his 68th pole in IndyCar, beating Mario Andretti’s record. Mario was among the first to congratulate Will and it was a sweet moment to watch. Power won 5 poles in the 2022 season so one can only assume that at least a few more poles will be added to his tally before he retires.

Race Day

With both Josef and Dixon starting significantly farther back it seemed Power should have the best chance of winning but one can never count out the iceman, Dixon or Team Penske. Scott Dixon was unimpressive this race though and hovered near the middle never really posing any threat. Josef Newgarden was quite the opposite. Josef had a great day and a yellow flag work in his favor. He was quickly passing cars and eventually passed Will Power on track. However, no one could come close to Alex Palou who won with a 30 second gap to Josef. Power finished third but solidly in first for the championship.

So Alex Palou got a win that he desperately needed for himself as he continues to wait and see what his future holds. Personally, I think he is crazy. He should have stayed with Ganassi but I don’t know him or what his goal in racing is but I would rather drive for a winning team and fight for an Indianapolis 500 win than be a no one in F1. Palou is well liked among fans and this whole mess might have derailed his career- that’s a post for another day. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Josef Newgarden proved that he is definitely at the top of his game. He had a few hiccups this year, including qualifying this past weekend but working your way from the back to the front is quite a feat and I expect both a 500 win and more championships in his future. He will come back in 2023 even stronger and you’d be crazy to bet against him next year.

Will Power! Wow, what a weekend. Honestly, I’m more impressed seeing the pole position record broken than the championship won. Years from now people will talk about the poles more than him winning another championship. Hopefully, now that the championship is won he can allow himself to celebrate the history he made by breaking Mario’s record. While I said earlier I have seen Will win the pole and dominate races many times, it does seem to be slowing down a touch and among the three Penske drivers, Will had the least amount of race wins. Once a driver is not on top I start cheering for him more. I guess you can argue that Will is still very much on top. You would be correct, but I think he had to fight harder for this one, or at least in a different way. He had to keep himself calm and recognize the talent he is up against without letting that intimidate him into making mistakes. He was calm and consistent and that is how he won the championship. Congratulations Will Power!

So let’s discuss the race itself.

Corkscrew- Such a fun turn to watch. It’s ironic that what messed Josef up in qualifying was also the same place he made many of his race passes. Always exciting watching cars go through the corkscrew.

Yellow flag- While I can understand IndyCars decision to not throw a yellow right away, I do not agree with it. While other racing series try and create drama, IndyCar avoids it by trying to “play fair” and waiting for all cars to pit before the track goes yellow. I don’t like this for two reasons. First, it’s only a matter of time until that backfires and someone is hurt because the yellow was delayed. Second, while a poorly timed yellow can ruin a drivers day, that is racing, that is part of the drama. IndyCar doesn’t need to create drama but can allow regular circumstances to play out and either ruin or make a drivers day. I don’t like yellows because I like seeing all the carnage of crashed race cars. I like yellows because it changes up the flow of the race and sometimes works in the favor of the small teams or struggling drivers and can provide a career and moral boosting win. A yellow should be thrown as soon as a car stops on the track or hits the wall.

Rookies- Christian Lundgaard won Rookie of the Year honors. He did great and deserves it. It was a highlight for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team because honestly they struggled most of the year. However, I was really pulling for David Malukas to win. All the rookies were fun to watch this season. I had thought at the beginning of the season I would be most closely watch Kyle Kirkwood but sadly the Foyt team continues to struggle and I grew tired of watching Kyle. David Malukas took over as my favorite rookie but unfortunately he was not able to overcome the points deficit and was runner up for ROY.

A couple final tidbits-

James Hinchcliffe is great in the booth. I love that he is still a part of the series.

Double points for the Indy 500 are not needed. I’m all for Indy qualifying to pay more points but they are not needed for the race.

Peacock is great and well worth the price. My only real complaint is I’d love to be able to start it at anytime. I don’t always make it in time to watch live but then I need to wait until an hour or so after practice or qualifying is over to watch the replay. I’d love to be able to start that at anytime.

Thank You! I sure appreciate all who read my blog. I have a couple things I hope to write about soon sharing ways to keep enjoying IndyCar during the off season. Hope you will check them out.

Race Day at Road America

I had hoped to wake up early on race day and attend the short devotional that IndyCar Ministry does each race weekend. I’ve never attended one but they start so early and I wasn’t able to motivate myself to get dressed and ready in time to make the meeting. One of these days I will.

I did make the 9:30 meetup with the Elite IndyCar Facebook members. Don Mulder put together the meetup which made it easier for me since I have met Don several times now. It was a nice time to meet so new friends and I was especially grateful because several of the people who read my blog are part of the Elite IndyCar group. It’s a fun group and the admins run several giveaways making it even more fun. The group took a picture and then it was time to be thinking about where to sit for the race.

I walked through the paddock, ran into a few more friends and then made my way to the camper so Zach, Randy and I could get settled before the race began. We decided to watch from Canada Corner and I was surprised to see several open seats when we arrived. It was time for driver introductions so I had thought the area would be packed. Canada Corner isn’t the best place to watch the race from. Many would argue that turn 5 is the preferred spot. Turn 7 is another place we’ve enjoyed watching from in the past. However, from the outside seats in Canada Corner you can see a decent amount of track and you also have a video board to watch. There was shade and plenty of room on the bleachers if you didn’t bring chairs. We started on the bleachers in the sun but then Zach brought our chairs down and we enjoyed a shaded spot in a more comfortable seat. With the help of the video screen and our headset we were able to follow most of the action. Zach was rooting for Alex Palou so he was furious when Alex was taken out. Alex later rejoined the race but was not able to better his position. I was wanting to see Alexander Rossi back on the top step of the podium but he ended up third. Randy was able to see his favorite win and was thrilled with the victory for Josef Newgarden. Josef has now won on a street circuit, an oval and a road course so he was given a 1,000,000 bonus for winning on each different type of track. That made the win even more sweet.

With the race over we made our way to the paddock to see if we could find any drivers. We saw a few but didn’t get any pictures. After we walked up and down the paddock we headed back to the camper. Zach and I both enjoyed a short nap before dinner.

We went into town for dinner and then played a couple rounds of Rummikub in the camper at night. Zach had to work on Monday so we made it an early night so we could pack up and make the drive home before his shift started.

Life got busy when we arrived home and I still haven’t watched the TV coverage of the race. Guess I have that to look forward to on the off weekend we have.

Pole Day and the Burger Bash

The Sunday before the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been bump day for many years. Recently, in an effort to make the two day qualifying more exciting or when there may or may not be bumping, Pole Day has been moved to Sunday. The last few years saw some bumping on Saturday and then every car would once again go out on Sunday. The previous times would be erased and the drivers would set a new time and determine their place in the field. The slower 24 cars would go out first, in inverted order for one shot to improve their position. After the fast 9 would be given one more shot to make the Pole. The risk was fairly equal for all drivers.

This year the format was again changed and the fast 9 became the fast 12. Position 13-33 would be determined solely on Saturday and because of weather we only saw two cars for out for a second attempt. Sadly, Stefan Wilson did not have his car ready due to an engine change. Stefan qualified 33rd.

The fast 12 went out to determine the fast 6. Then the fast six were given one last shot to win the pole. Rinus VeeKay had the fastest time on Saturday and traditionally would have been the Pole winner. Under the new rules, Scott Dixon was able to beat VeeKay’s time and won the Pole. Scott Dixon also had the fastest time ever for a Pole position at a speed of 234.046. Alex Palou is second and Rinus VeeKay is third.

While the format was exciting and seeing some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen in years helped add to the excitement, I’m not sure this is the best format. To gain that top step you have to give everything you have, every driver will tell you it is one of the hardest things they do in racing. Asking them to go out again and again adds a lot more pressure. The pressure should be on those in the back of the field trying to make it in or improving their position. I know there isn’t a perfect answer and I’m sure the format will continue to be tweaked each year but I guess I’m old school and would prefer Pole Day be on Saturday. Until we have several drivers trying to bump their way in that won’t happen.

Since, the qualifying didn’t start until 2:00 and since I’d been at the track everyday of the week we chose to arrive before qualifying and skip the morning practice. I attended church with Lisa, we grabbed a coffee at the Spark in Speedway and then we prepared to go to the track.

We walked through the garage area first and then made our way to seats along the front stretch but near turn one. We had a great view of the cars as the waited for turn as well as the track. We all had our favorites among the top 12 and 6. Scott Dixon was not anyone’s favorite but we all cheered for him as he set the new pole record and did was Scott Dixon, the Iceman, always does. This was his second Pole in a row and his fifth overall. Rick Mears holds the record at 6 Poles.

We stayed in our seats and celebrated before exiting the Speedway. On our way out we decided to accept a ride from a pedicab. I was telling Randy about the Rickshaw races at the Milwaukee Mile and how great Big Steve was and our driver said that he came in fourth in that race. He also said that Big Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after that and lost the battle about 15 months later. He had a mini license plate that read #BigSteveStrong.

Randy and I then met his sister and brother-in-law for dinner at Big Woods. I had only met them once before, many years ago at a reunion. It was a fun night catching up.

Mark, Randy and Jenny

Burger Bash

Monday afternoon there was a two hour practice that we attended. The weather was beautiful but warm in the sun. We watched a bit, walked to the museum, ran into Simon Pagenaud and his sweet pup, Norman, saw Conor Daly’s hot tub and did a final pass through the garage. Monday concluded a streak of 7 consecutive days at the track for me and I was feeling it. I was tired. However, we still had one more think to do that night- attend the Burger Bash.

For many years I have been so disappointed that I was never able to attend Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee’s Carb Night Burger Bash. Then a couple years ago they were too busy to have it. Of course it did not happen in 2020 and was also not done in 2021. This year they brought it back but changed a few things. The first change was the day. It was now held on the last practice day- Monday. The location was also great, the USAC Headquarters parking lot right off the roundabout in Speedway. It was high on my list to be in attendance no matter how tired I was.

We arrived right at 6:00 but didn’t bring our chairs in so I ran back to the car to get them while Randy enjoyed a burger. Our chairs were low beach chairs but we found a place where we could still see all that was going on. Kevin was interviewing some of the doctors that work for the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Dr. Hanna and Dr. Lee. When Dr. Nasser Hanna left the stage he walked past where I was sitting and tapped my shoulder saying hello and nice to see me. I thought that was kind but just thought he was trying to greet and thank the people that were attending. I smiled and greeted him back. However, when he returned and told me he should probably introduce himself because while he knew me I probably didn’t know him. He then made my jaw drop by telling me he reads my blog. I believe my response was one of total shock asking if he truly did read it. He said he had been reading for years and have watch my boys grow up through my blog. Wow! That made my day! Later that night we talked again and took a picture together by Jackson Lee’s car. Dr. Hanna (Nasser) then told me he had seen me before at races but hadn’t wanted to be that “crazy” person that said hello (not sure if crazy was his word or mine) and I laughed and said I am always that crazy person stopping people I only know from social media or bloggers. He then asked if I knew George Phillips. I laughed and said of course, George is the real deal in the blogging world posting three times a week. It was so nice meeting Nasser and I look forward to seeing him at more races in the future.

Longtime reader- Dr. Nasser Hanna

During the radio portion of the Burger Bash several drivers showed up but I was happiest to see Stefan Wilson. I have a picture in my head of Justin at the Burger Bash drinking a shake and talking with Curt and Kevin. It was great seeing Stefan in that role- minus the shake. Marcus Ericsson, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kirkwood, Rinus VeeKay, Dalton Kellett and several drivers in the ladder series were all in attendance. I would have loved to grab a picture with a few of the drivers I hadn’t yet seen this month I chose to just enjoy the show. I also would have loved a chance to say hello to Curt and Kevin but wasn’t able to say hello. Hopefully, I will still get a chance to say hello before the month is over.

I am staying in Indy this week and enjoying some other activities around town. I should have another post up in a day or two detailing all the off track fun I’m having this week. Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Nasser Hanna for being a longtime reader and taking the time to say hello, it meant a lot to me.

What a Crazy Ride!

You might thing I’m talking about the race but I’m also talking about my weekend. Seems nothing went quite as I had planned it. Nothing to dramatic for our weekend but when you are tired and rain soaked even small things seem larger.

As I’ve mentioned before I have the unique opportunity to spend over two weeks in Indianapolis, allowing me to spend every day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Trying to prepare everything at home for the family during my absence and packing all my needs was more work than I imagined. I was exhausted before the trip even started.

Zach and I left on Friday and made the drive down to Indy. We arrived shortly before qualifying and I picked up my bronze badge. We found seats up in the penthouse seats and enjoyed the breeze and shade while we waited for qualifying. Zach was rooting for Alex Palou to be on the pole and thought he got it but Will Power did what he does best and won it in the end. It was such a nice day we stayed right where we were and watched the Indy lights race. Linus Lundqvist and Christian Rasmussen came together early in the race and fell to the back but worked their way through the field and earned respectable finishes and made it very entertaining to watch.

We would usually make our way to Pagoda Plaza and the garage area after the race but decided we would just get settled in at Lisa’s and that we’d have plenty of time on Saturday to explore.

Our gracious host, Lisa, is a dear friend that we met back in 2016 at Road America. We have become close friends and she has been sweet enough to host us in Indy on several occasions. This time she has gone above and beyond and is allowing me to stay through the 500. I’m thrilled to be experiencing all Indy has to offer during the Month of May.

Race Day

The race started a bit later than previous years which was just fine with Zach, he enjoyed sleeping in. We made our way to IMS around 1:00 but as we entered everyone was headed back to their cars due to lightning in the area. We continued to the mounds and then we’re going to go to Pagoda Plaza. Zach was going to wait on the mounds. Even though my youngest son is 17, I didn’t feel I should leave him if severe weather was on its way. The radar looked like it might break up before it hit us but I’m not a weatherman. Zach and I eventually decided to go back to the car and wait it out there so we wouldn’t be soaked for the race. We enjoyed “tailgating” in the minivan with the back door open while the rain fell. We returned to our seats on the mounds just before the command to start engines. We quickly realized what we thought would be a great video screen was just the back of one for the oval. We waited for the start but switched our seats during the first yellow. Everyone always says how great the GA ticket is because you can enjoy many vantage points but the facility is so large that moving during the race means you miss out on some of the action. We worked our way to mounds at turns 7,8 and 9 where we could also see a video screen. I had also pulled up the race on Peacock and we could watch on our phone.

The rain increased and the clouds looked ominous and we questioned being so far from our car. We decided to view the race from the plaza in case the rain really picked up. It grew to a steady rain but never got scary. So we watched the large screens in the Pagoda Plaza but then didn’t actually see the cars on track. Definitely, a new way to watch at the speedway. I prefer seeing the cars on track and of course we missed some more of the action as we again switched seats. The race became very interesting as the drivers navigated the rainy road course. We learned after the race that visibility was awful and definitely something to try and fix before the next rain race. This was the first time the new areoscreens were exposed to a true rain race and the drivers said the rain just stayed on the screen and that a wiper might be needed for the future. Eventually, it was Colton Herta that saw the checkered flag and won the race. Simon Pagenaud followed in second after starting in 20th position. Very impressive drive by Simon. Will Power completed the podium.

We watched some of the victory celebration and then did a quick pass of the garage area. We were able to see Larry Foyt, Tatiana Calderon and Kyle Kirkwood. No AJ sightings that day. The rain had mostly passed but by this time we were cold and wet so heading home sounded better than watching the second half of the Lights race which had to be stopped earlier due to lightning.

Back at Lisa’s we watched The Club featuring the four four time winners. I will rewatch that. Loved hearing the storied the Speedway legends had to share. What a special piece of history to have all four of them together as we lost Al Unser in December of 2021.

Sunday and my Mother’s Day

I prefer to celebrate Mother’s Day in Indy so on years the GMR Grand Prix doesn’t fall on Mother’s Day weekend I just postpone our Mother’s Day. Matthew had a drill weekend with the Air National Guard so he couldn’t join us and Zach planned to fly home on Sunday. As always happens when you fly space available, the seats filled up quickly and flights weren’t looking good. Zach and I made the decision to try the first flight of the morning and woke up at 4:00 am to attempt to get him on a flight home. It paid off and Zach got the last seat on the plane. They pushed back and I began to leave the airport when Zach texted saying they were pulling back in for a maintenance problem. Fortunately, it was resolved in about half an hour.

Zach texted me the news as I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Charlie Browns. I figured just because Zach couldn’t join me didn’t mean I should miss out on our traditions. It was early enough I was seated right away and Zach was nearly half way home before I finished my breakfast. So today I will continue with our usual traditions and enjoy the museum at IMS and work on Oilpressure.com trivia contest. Things might not have gone as planned but it was a great weekend. Now I have the next two weeks to enjoy all the fun and traditions Indy has to offer in May and I look forward to every minute.

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

My last post I asked what your “must do” items are during the Month of May. I look forward to hearing your ideas and hope to add some to my itinerary. Keep the ideas coming. For this post I want to share some of my favorite things to do during May. We all know the Indianapolis 500 tops that list but I’m talking about all the extras during the month.

This month May kicked off with a race at Barber Motorsports Park. I’d prefer all races in May take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but since it is May 1 it’s okay to sneak this race in. The facility is absolutely gorgeous and I really hope to attend that race in person in the near future. But now that the race is over it’s time to focus on The Month of May in Indianapolis.

Some of the beginning signs that it is May are

  • Flying my Indianapolis Motor Speedway flag
  • Listening to Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee every night (or catching up on the podcast)
  • Listening to Beyond the Bricks with Jake Query and Mike Thomsen.
  • Pulling out all my IndyCar books
  • Attending the GMR Grand Prix with my boys.
  • Breakfast (often on Mother’s Day) at Charlie Browns.
  • A glass of wine (or two) at the Foyt Vault.
  • Trivia contest put together by George Phillips at Oilpressure.com I was last years winner and hope to defend that title.
  • Listening to some archived The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson. It’s not May with Donald.

I find I usually run out of time for all the reading and listening I want to do. I’d also love to watch old Indy 500’s and just soak up all the history of the event that I can.

This year I will be in Indianapolis for over two weeks and should have more time to focus on my Indianapolis 500 obsession but I know I will just fill my time with more activities around town during the month of May and I will still leave wanting more. The month is going to fly by. I’m hoping I use my time wisely and plan ahead to make the most of it.

As a young girl, my mom would often make us stop at cemeteries on our family vacations to look for an ancestor. My mom has always enjoyed tracing our family history and even started a blog with old family letters (which you can find at lettersfromthe1920s.wordpress.com) so I was intrigued by the thought of visiting the graves of the Chevrolet brothers. I wonder which other drivers are laid to rest nearby.

http://lettersfromthe1920s.wordpress.com

A trip to Indianapolis always means a stop at Charlie Browns and the Foyt Vault but I’ve yet to try the Mug n Bun so I hope to add that this year.

My boys beg every year to try the go karts at Sarah Fishers indoor karting track. Hopefully this is the year we can squeeze that in too.

I had planned to come home for a couple days on the 23rd but learned that was the night planned for the return of the Burger Bash with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee so I delayed my trip home by a day and now am trying to decide if I just have Matthew, Zach and Randy meet me in Indy rather than head home and drive back down with them. I’m excited to attend the Burger Bash as that has been on my list for years.

The Burger Bash does not take place on Carb Day but I will also be able to finally attend that too. While many attend Carb Day for the party atmosphere and drinking, I’m looking forward to the pit stop competition and am disappointed that the Freedom 100 is no longer on the schedule.

Yikes! Just writing this is exhausting because I know I’m just barely making a dent in all the things I hope to do this May. Please keep your suggestions coming and I hope you are all as excited about May as I am.

Texas

Wow! We just never know what to expect when we watch the Texas race. We’ve seen scary pack racing, we’ve seen parade racing, Scott Dixon dominate, unexpected winners, crazy rain delays, snoozers and edge of your seat racing. When Texas was announced as being in March and during the day my wheels started going because my son is stationed at Shepherd Air Force Base so maybe this could be the year we attend the Texas race. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us this year. Now I’m concerned IndyCar may not return to Texas and we lost our chance. That would be a shame if IndyCars no longer raced there.

Qualifying on Saturday was enjoyable. I always like watching the cars go out and see what kind of time they can put down. Felix Rosenqvist won the pole. Then that afternoon there was a special practice period for a few “lucky” drivers to try and lay some rubber down to make a second lane for racing. For whatever reason NASCAR can not be content with regular racing and consistently finds new gimmicks and ways to make the racing “better”. In my opinion they ruin it and I can’t follow all the crazy ideas that go on over there. To each their own but in this case it messes with IndyCar. The JP1 compound that they put on the track for NASCAR makes it incredibly slippery for IndyCar. I honestly don’t understand why NASCAR or Texas Motor Speedway sees the need to do this. If you can’t race on asphalt get off the track. If the compound will ruin the track for all other types of racing then it is even more ridiculous. Will Power has been pushing an idea though for several cars to run as many laps as possible and rubber in a second race line to help with passing. IndyCar approved having seven cars run laps with last years tires to try and put some rubber down. I saw enough passing to say that it must have helped a bit. We also saw enough crashes to say it still was a hazard.

The race itself was very entertaining, many had feared it would be very dull with little chance for passing. That was not the case. Let’s look at some highlights.

Santino Ferruci

Jack Harvey took a hard hit on the wall and was not cleared to drive in Sunday’s race. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was determined to be suffering from a concussion and Santino Ferruci was asked to sub for him. RLLR might be reconsidering not keeping Ferruci as a driver. He jumped right in with very little practice and drove the car from the back of the field to a 9th place finish. I hope this reminds the paddock what a talent he is.

Jimmy Johnson

Jimmie Johnson made his oval track debut at Texas Motor Speedway. He was all anyone could talk about but until race day I wasn’t too impressed. He qualified in 18th position and I honestly didn’t think he would advance much. I could not have been more wrong. Jimmie had his best race in his IndyCar career and I’m guessing he wishes he had done the ovals last year. He finished in 6th position and was fun to watch. Hopefully, this will boost his confidence and skills for the road and street courses where I think he still struggles more than he should.

Kyle Kirkwood

Kyle Kirkwood started 23rd and finished 25th. The middle part of that saw him running around the 10th spot and I was hopeful he would finish with a top ten. Unfortunately, he hit the wall on lap 114 after getting fresh tires. However, he must be the real deal because we don’t see much from the Foyt team and yet this rookie is often in the mix these last two races.

Scott McLaughlin

While Felix Rosenqvist won the pole, Scott McLaughlin quickly passed him and led a majority of the race. It really seemed that he would win his second race in a row. Unfortunately, Scott ran into lapped traffic at the wrong time and on the last turn of the last lap Josef Newgarden made it passed McLaughlin for the win. It was the 600th win for Team Penske and Roger Penske presented Josef six Hundred dollar bills in victory lane. Scott was crushed to lose after dominating all race. Penske is looking as strong as ever.

Peacock Coverage

I love the coverage Peacock provides. There are some commercials but during some commercial breaks we just get to watch and listen to the cars. I love that. Having a post race show is important to grow fans so I’m thankful for the option. I know some don’t want to pay for the channel. I am a Comcast customer so I don’t have to pay but gladly would. It is well worth it.

The race also had some problems

Alexander Rossi

Honestly, what in the world is up with this guy? He can’t catch a break. He jumped the start so looked to maybe be penalized. It was decided he just needed to give the spots back however, he had car problems and was out of the race after only a few laps. Even if Andretti Autosport wanted to resign Rossi, I think he needs a fresh start. He has been struggling way too long.

Race Attendance

Poor race attendance was named as everything from bad promotion to church attendance. I saw several posts on Twitter and Facebook stating that the facility itself was run down and not family friendly. It sounds like very little promoting was done. The early start time could have been a problem. Church attendance was even listed as a reason people stayed away. I attend church faithfully but I make an exception if I’m attending a race. I can always stop in and see the IndyCar Misistries devotion they offer on Sundays at the track. TMS is a huge facility but even I could tell attendance was down from previous years. Changing both the date and time and then not promoting it properly surely hurt the attendance. Texas is almost always entertaining and we really can’t afford to miss any more ovals on the schedule. I hope Texas returns next year.

Looking Ahead

Well, two races in and I’m loving the 2022 IndyCar season. I also have some fun news to share. This year I will be in attendance for all three weekends at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and most of the practice days. This is something I have wanted to do for as long as I have been attending activities at the track. I look forward to spending my afternoons watching and listening to the cars, then blog about my experience at the end of the day. It’s a dream come true. Is it May yet?

Drivers in the Middle, Where Now?

I honestly don’t know how so much time has gone by since I last blogged. I had wanted to get a new post out with the drivers that fell in 11th-20th position in the championship points. A week and a half later I am finally getting to it. Good new is a lot has happened so it will be more fact than speculation. Of course, I will give my thoughts on if I’m happy or not with the decision. Let’s start

Takuma Sato only had on top 5 but several top 10 finishes. As one of the older guys in the paddock there was plenty of speculation on where he might be for the 2022 season. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has announced that Takuma will not be driving for them next year. Honestly, because we know Honda supports him and he won the Indianapolis 500 for RLL in 2020, I was surprised he didn’t have one more year with RLL. Most believe he will drive for Dale Coyne Racing in 2022. Sato is not my favorite but I’ve always liked him. I’d like to watch him race another season or two.

Rinus VeeKay, this young kid is so much fun to watch both on and off the track. On the track he had a great start to the season and won on the road course at Indianapolis. Off the track, he has a signature spin he does for driver introductions and wears a cowboy hat to “fit in” while in Nashville. He is just energetic and fun. Rinus will continue driving for Ed Carpenter Racing and I am thrilled.

Jack Harvey has been so close to getting his first win. Driving for Meyer Shank Racing, Jack is that driver and team that you root for. However, Jack will not be returning to MSR and instead will fill the 45 car at Rahal. I see this as kinda a lateral move. While RLL has more career wins both teams seem pretty even to me. I am glad Jack will be continuing in the IndyCar series.

Scott McLaughlin – I wasn’t sure what I thought of him when he came into the series but I’ve enjoyed having him in the series. Scott won Rookie of the Year and showed plenty of talent. Racing for Penske I think he has a good chance of getting a win next season.

Romain Grosjean – What a fun guy to watch race. He pulls daring moves but can pull them off without too much carnage. He works his way up the field and is incredibly competitive. He had a pole and a couple podium finishes and the smile he had never went away. Romain loves driving for IndyCar and IndyCar loves him. That said, I desperately wished he would have stayed with Dale Coyne Racing. They were doing great and Dale’s team can win. I liked that combination. Romain most likely made the wiser decision to move to Andretti Autosport. He will be driving the No. 28 DHL car that Ryan Hunter-Reay has driven the last several years. I personally think it is one of the ugliest cars and driver suits. It’s a car I’ve rooted against every race in the past so now I will have to readjust because I will definitely be cheering for Romain to have a great season.

Sebastien Bourdais is a super talented driver that drives for the struggling AJ Foyt Racing. We’ve seen small glimmers of hope as Bourdais had two top five finishes but the team still needs to work on getting those race wins. I hope Bourdais continues with Foyt because I think the consistency will help. I don’t think there is confirmation on whether or not he will drive for Foyt.

Ryan Hunter-Reay – I’ve never been a fan so I am not sorry that Ryan will not be driving in IndyCar next season. He doesn’t bring anything to the sport and hasn’t won in a couple years. I won’t miss him.

Conor Daly – Conor is that good driver that just can’t catch a break. He seems to have the worst luck on the track and often seems to be involved in the accidents through no fault of his own. He managed to place 18th in the points while switching between Carpenter and Carlin racing so honestly he did better than drivers with permanent and established teams. I’d love to see Daly full time with Ed and if Ed still wants to drive the ovals then Ed can be the third car for those races. There are so few ovals these days and he already runs the third for Indy so I think that makes perfect sense. Perhaps then with the stability of a full time gig, Conor could get some podiums and maybe even a win. Conor failed to even get a top 10 in 2021.

Ed Jones– I honestly don’t even know what to say about Jones. He isn’t impressive on the track and his personality doesn’t grab you either. I really don’t expect to see him back in IndyCar next year. I have not heard where he might end up and don’t believe he brings any sponsorship money to make himself marketable.

James Hinchcliffe It breaks my heart that James will not be full time in IndyCar next year. After being let go by Arrow at the end of 2019, putting together some races in 2020 and then landing a full time ride at Andretti Autosport in 2021, James IndyCar career has fizzled out. James had a ridiculously bad year with Andretti and it wasn’t a big surprise to learn he wouldn’t be back. He will be driving in the IMSA weather tech championship in 2022. I haven’t heard if there is any chance he might also be helping out on the IndyCar NBC broadcast team. James does wonderful in the booth and the pits and would be a marvelous addition to the broadcast team. I really hope that happens because IndyCar won’t be the same without James.

So that got us through most of the full time drivers. We have a few more to cover and some part timers looking to break into the series full time. Hopefully, it won’t take me as long to get to those. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts and where you agree or disagree.

IndyCar Season Finale and Wrap Up

The NTT IndyCar Season Finale took place over a week ago on the Streets of Long Beach and I am just now getting to my blog post. I’ve actually been stuck in quarantine so you’d think I would have had plenty of time to get to this. My oldest has Covid. We were preparing for him to go to Basic Training for the Air National Guard when he started feeling sick. He was unable to attend his drill weekend which pushed back his Basic Training dates. He will now leave on November 16. Thankfully, he was sick less than a week and no one else in the house is sick (yet). So now that things have settled down here let’s discuss IndyCar.

Covid continued to change plans and dates. While we knew for quite some time that Long Beach would be the season finale it was still quite strange. The beautiful views of the fountain usually mean it’s Spring and we have plenty more racing to look forward to. This year it marked the end of the season. It looked like a great place for the finale and I heard several fans and drivers say they wished the season always ended in Long Beach.

Alex Palou was the points leader going into Long Beach and even after a crazy qualifying session that had him starting mid pack he was able to maintain the points lead and become the 2021 Champion. Wow! In his Sophomore season and first with Chip Ganassi racing that is fairly incredible. Watch out Scott Dixon! It’s really to soon to say if he will continue to be a driver to watch for the next decade or two but right now I’d definitely say he is one to watch. Drivers often seem to struggle in the sophomore year but Palou showed that is not always the case. He won 3 races, 1 pole and of course was crowned champion. Alex has a sweet tradition of eating fried chicken after a win. He enjoyed it after winning the championship too.

Colton Herta would also be on that list. Colton won the race and made it all look easy. He started 14th but it didn’t take him long to be leading. When he is out in front he just pulls away from everyone, every race. Colton sometimes needs to learn patience but in general he is a fast, entertaining driver to watch. I’m sure he will be fighting for that Championship in the next few years. Colton also has a traditional meal after a win and he had some celebratory tacos after his win.

Pato O’Ward was second in the points going into Long Beach. He started near Palou in the middle of the field. The greatest concern is being taken out on lap one by an accident and of course that is exactly what happened. Ed Jones made an attempt to pass and ended up getting into O’Ward. Palou was able to escape the accident but just barely. With that accident O’Ward watched his dream of being the Champion slip away. Palou would need to crash out for Pato to have any chance and that didn’t happen. Sadly in the end Pato dropped to third in the standings.

Josef Newgarden was the long shot for the championship but with O’Ward’s accident he was able to place second in the championship. Josef and Team Penske had their struggles this year but still show that they are and will remain competitive. Josef had two race wins and 4 poles for the 2021 season.

Scott Dixon had a quiet season. Palou took most of the limelight but Dixon won in Texas and remains the active driver with the most IndyCar wins (51). As long as Dixon keeps winning he will have a place at Ganassi.

Alexander Rossi once again had a horrible season. I’m not sure what is going on there because we all believe he is a good racer but if we don’t see some results he might find himself looking for a new ride in the future.

Graham Rahal also did not have a good season. No wins and no poles. Graham continues to struggle in qualifying. He can make his way up through the field and is often among the cars that have moved up the most. If he could start closer to the front I believe he would have more race wins. Graham finished 7th in the standings. His best start was from the 5th position in Portland. His best finish was 3rd in Texas.

Marcus Ericsson probably had the best season of his life. I’m not sure we will continue to see such great results from him in the future because I think a lot of luck was involved in his race wins. When Will Power’s car would not start after a red flag during race 1 at Detroit, Ericsson inherited the lead. On lap 1 in Nashville, Ericsson launched over the car in front of him. You had to assume he would have too much damage to finish the race and definitely not win. Marcus, however, won the race. You have to have a lot of things fall into place to win and if I had to guess he won’t be as lucky next year. I do like him though and look forward to seeing if he can keep the momentum and luck going.

Simon Pagenaud finished 8th in the standings but had a forgettable season with no wins and no poles. Simon will be moving from Team Penske to Meyer Shank racing for the 2022 season. He will reunite with former Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves. I look forward to seeing what that team can do in 2022.

Will Power had one win and one pole. His win was on the road course at Indy where he has won several times before. That was not a surprise. What was a surprise was that he only had one pole. He has won 63 poles in his career, I really expected him to add three or four to that number in 2021. O’Ward and Herta each had three poles this season and Power has his work cut out for him if he wants to keep winning poles. Power will remain with Penske for the 2022 season.

When I started writing this post I didn’t intend to make it a “through the field” kinda post but I did want to touch on the Championship, silly season and my thoughts so it turned into that. I will wrap up the top ten now and return with thoughts on others in the next few days. Thanks for reading.

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.