The Wilson Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would be the last time we saw Justin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2019 IndyCar Season

Guess it’s time to brush the dust off my blog. The IndyCar off-season seems so long and then suddenly it’s over and we are ready to go racing. I won’t be able to cover all I missed during the off season but thought I throw out a couple thoughts as we prepare for the 2019 season.

Let’s start with the fun news! I’m going to the Indianapolis 500 this May. Zach and I surprised Randy with tickets at Christmas. The tickets arrived today. While Zach and I attended the 99th running of the 500, we did not have the pleasure of receiving a blue envelope in the mail. This year I ordered our tickets so I have the privilege of opening the mail box and finding a beautiful blue envelope. Wow! That’s more fun than seeing the first flowers of Spring. The not so fun part is that due to snow days, Friday, May 24th has become our last day of school. Not sure I can pull Zach out on his last day. We might not make Carb Day. We will have to see what his schedule looks like as it gets closer.

Other fun news is that Robert Wickens will be attending the St Petersburg race. While I kinda expected this it still makes my heart so happy to see his improvements and positive attitude. Obviously I’m not a doctor and don’t really know the extent of his injuries but if attitude is any indication Robert will be in a car again. If you aren’t following Robbie on social media you need to start. He is amazing and such an inspiration.

So what are some thoughts on the upcoming season?

Sébastien Bourdais has won the St Pete race the last two years. I’m not really expecting a third win but I do expect a win during the season.

I’m expecting the Andretti team to be on fire. Rossi will be in the championship battle. Ryan Hunter-Reay will have a win and Zach Veach will get a win too. I’m a huge Marco fan. I’d love to see him back in victory circle. I honestly believe he has talent. He is who I want to win the Indy 500. Marco just needs to get out of his head. I’m happy for Conor to have the 500 ride but at the end of the day I’m a huge Stefan Wilson fan and I wanted him in that car.

So speaking of Stefan Wilson- Pippa Mann will be driving the Driven2SaveLives car for Clausen-Marshall Racing. While I’m glad Pippa has a chance to attempt the 500 again I don’t understand their choice for a driver. Pippa failed to qualifylast year and usually is in the back of the pack. While she was teammates with Bryan Clausen I don’t see how she really becomes a spokesperson for Driven 2 Save Lives. Stefan on the other hand, qualified well for the 500 last year, led laps and is an amazing spokesperson for organ donation. He has such a personal story to tell and I think that would go a lot farther to reach others to donate than anything else. At the end of the day I just think Stefan is a better driver and I would prefer to see him in the car. While I appreciate Pippa I don’t see her going anywhere and imagine she will finish in the back of the pack if she is able to qualify.

So what about Harding Steinbrenner Racing? Sadly, they weren’t able to get enough sponsors for two cars and Pato O’Ward was released from his contract. Colton Herta will be the sole driver. Both drivers show great potential so while there may be factors that led to Colton over Pato no one can really say one is more deserving than the other. The hard part is this late in the season it will be tricky for Pato to put something together. Andretti offered him a multiple race deal which was turned down. I don’t understand that at all. I’d take part time with one of the big three teams over full time with a smaller team almost any day.

Last thought- Personally, I could care less that Fernando Alonso will be racing in the 500 again this year. I know it’s good for the sport but frankly I don’t care. Just one less spot for the drivers I do care about.

This season I plan to attend the GP of Indy, Indianapolis 500, Road America and Gateway. Small chance I also sneak in Iowa. Hope to see you at a race soon. Check back often. Now that it’s officially IndyCar season I will be posting regularly. Thanks for reading.

The Month of May

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

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

          Then we attended our FIRST INDY 500.  Fantastic day!

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

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

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