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.

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.

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.

Race Day in May- GMR Grand Prix

Matthew is glad to be done with High School.

We arrived in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon just in time for qualifying for the GMR Grand Prix. It was Matthew’s last day of High School so we did not leave as early as we would have liked. He couldn’t miss his last day. Of course traffic around Chicago didn’t help and we were even rerouted around Lafayette. It was all worth it to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We met up with Lisa and made our way to the box seats near turn one of the oval. It was a perfect day to be watching cars on track. Such a fun qualifying day. Not the usual suspects in the fast six and eventually it was Romain Grosjean on the pole. Josef Newgarden, Jack Harvey, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin and Conor Daly were the top six. So fun.

We then left the track and enjoyed a glass of wine at the Foyt Vault before dinner at the pizza place in the building that had been the 1911 grill. The pizza was great.

Back to Lisa’s house where we met her sweet pup, Spike. Lots of catching up and then getting ready for race day.

Saturday- race day

Arrived at track around noon and made our way to the Pagoda Plaza. Spent time there talking with friends, old and new. Caught up with Mike Silver and took plenty of photos. As we neared the time for the green flag we made our way to our seats. We sat in the Northwest Vista. The seats were great.

So as we settled in for the start of the race the boys grabbed a Mountain Dew and cherry pepsi. Lisa had some cinnamon whiskey and I was the classy one with a box (small) of wine. Makes me laugh every time but I do enjoy it.

Green flag dropped and no big surprise that we had an accident in the first turn. Sadly, Conor Daly was involved as his step dad, Doug Boles, watched from nearby. Conor seems to have the worst luck. Grosjean was not involved and was able to maintain the lead. I haven’t watched the race on TV yet but believe that after Grosjean’s first pit stop he came out in front of Rinus VeeKay but Veekay was on warmer tires and made it passed Grosjean.

The race continued without any more yellow flags. As I was watching I realized I could see way down to the seats in turn one of the oval where I sat with Matthew for his first trip to the speedway. I let me eyes wander to the main straight where I sat with my dad on my first trip. We watched AJ Foyt retire and take his final lap on the track. I teared up thinking of those special times and looked to my boys thankful that we were back home again in Indiana enjoying our May traditions.

After some time reflecting I turned my attention back to the race. I love listening in on my scanner and I have to say listening to the Television broadcast team during their commercial breaks is great. You never know what you might hear. This time it was Paul Tracy singing Milli Vanilli Blame it on the Rain. A couple sprinkles fell but not enough to change the race outcome. I usually love a rain race but with Rinus leading I didn’t want anything to mess that up. The racing itself wasn’t edge of your seat racing but it was for me as I cheered for Rinus. I have quickly become a fan of this young driver and was even wearing my VeeKay shirt. I was just counting down the laps and hoping he would win. After 85 laps Rinus VeeKay did take the checkered flag and won his first IndyCar race. I’m guessing he heard my cheers from the other end of the track. I was thrilled.

Five races and five winners. Just another thing I love about IndyCar. My boys enjoyed the race and we all hung out a bit after watching the interviews on the video boards. Eventually though it was time to leave and we headed out. I’m not sure when Matthew will return with us to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but I know he will. It’s a tradition they enjoy and while college and the Air National Guard might not allow visits in the next few years we will be trying our best every year to return.

We enjoyed a lazy night and prepared for our usual Mother’s Day traditions a week late.

Sunday- My Mother’s Day

We always celebrate Mother’s Day in Indy so this year we just postponed our day. We went to Charlie Browns for breakfast where we stuffed ourselves. We then went to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum and happened to walk in right behind Ryan Hunter-Reay. I recognized his voice before I saw him and said hello. He didn’t respond so I called to him twice more- he was less than two feet from me. He didn’t even turn around. I just rolled my eyes and the boys and I laughed. We have never had a kind response from RHR. We even met him in the back of a grocery store when he was doing an autograph session. I thought he’d be thrilled that someone sought him out. We had our 500 tickets with his picture. He barely acknowledged us. As much as I brag about the IndyCar drivers to others and how accessible they are. Hunter-Reay does not belong in that category. He was there with Becky and the kids and the kids were fun to watch as they found their dads picture on the winners wall but Ryan continued to be Ryan. Needless to say our impression of him did not change. I understand wanting to be with your family and not be interrupted by fans but Ryan doesn’t do himself any favors by being so aloof.

I’ve been watching since 1985.

After enjoying the exhibits I talked with many of the workers to try and get some help on George Phillips Trivia contest. Then the boys went to buy my Mother’s Day gift. We decided on Paul Page’s new book and then went to the clearance shop to look there. On our way in we ran into George and Susan Phillips. We talked, took pictures and I even had George take a look at my answers so far. He just told me a few I needed to double check and said he heard them talking in the museum about the questions. He told two of the answers to them so I ventured back in to also learn those answers later. I’m afraid I kept George and Susan talking too long and hope I didn’t delay their drive home by too much. I am grateful to run into them though. Susan has been battling (and winning) pancreatic cancer and it was good to see her and even pray with her and George. Their story and positive outlook is inspiring. Today they actually are celebrating their wedding anniversary and that is a fun story too. Check out their blog at Oilpressure.com.

Matthew, Zachary and I grabbed a few more pictures and our traditional whatchamacallit candy bars for the drive home. We laughed and joked about past trips, favorite racers and our silly traditions. It was exactly as Mother’s Day should be.

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.

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.

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.

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.