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.

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama plus bonus Indy 500 talk

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

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

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

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

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

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