Mid-Ohio on Rewind…

For the first time in the 10 years I’ve been attending races, I actually thought/felt “Ugh… I don’t want to go”.

There were a multitude of reasons for this. One, I was tired (Very tired) and just getting over being very sick. Two, I was nursing a knee injury, and three, I feared with the absence of the ALMS this year that there would be an obvious and palpable decline in attendance, and I would spend the weekend warding off negativity.

But alas the hardcard dangling from my desk lamp reminded me of my obligations, and the hotel was paid for, so despite my lack of enthusiasm or energy, I tossed my gear in my ride for the weekend (a speedy little Honda CR-V) and set off for Ohio.

I decided that the only way to get myself out of the funk I was in was to go to the track, to my racing family, and stock up on hugs and companionship (the irony of this was that I was staying alone on this trip, about 45 mins from the track, which lead to solo commutes, uncomfortably lonely sleeps, and 3 of 4 nights dining alone… poor planning on my part)

Poor Tony diZinno was the first familiar face/warm body I came in contact with, and when he hugged me hello, I selfishly pulled him in and hugged him so tight. Being the lovely gentleman he is, he obliged the long hug from Auntie Meesh, and I apologized immediately for the over-share of affection.

Here’s the thing about my life in racing, and I’ve said this a million times, even the worst day at the track is better than most good days away from it, so I knew from that point on, my weekend would be awesome, and I had made the right decision to go.

Firstly, lets just put to rest the “decline in attendance” worry. The place was packed. Now granted, this was only my second year in attendance myself, so I only have 2012 to compare to personally, but from my view point, the crowd was as dense if not more so than last year. These are long time place/race fans. They know the series, they know the drivers, they know the history.

The new faces on pitlane also added to the buzz of the weekend. As sad as I may have felt for Tags, it was exhilarating to spend some time around Luca Filippe. Not for the obvious smoldering eyes/Italian accent reasons (ladies, am I right?)  but for the wide-eyed enthusiasm of someone experiencing something, their dream come true, for the first time. His energy drew you in, and you couldn’t help but root for him and the team. The same with James Davison. I’ve known James for many years. He’s a good kid, and fast. It was nice to see him get a chance after so many years on the sidelines.

I am constantly pulled in a million directions on race weekend, but this particular weekend, I selfishly allowed myself to “slack off” a little, and enjoy a little more socializing than I normally do. (all work and no play, yadda yadda) I’m so glad I did, because I was able to connect and reconnect with some of my “tweeps”. There are some pretty awesome people out there on the interwebs. If you are at a race (and why the FUCK aren’t you going to as many races as possible??) please make a “tweet up” part of your schedule. You won’t regret it. Some of the closest friends in my racing family stemmed from being twitter friends first, and meeting up at the track. I only wish, as in the case of having a race in a major city, that we were all closer in proximity off property, and were able to sit down to a meal and adult beverages together. (You are all on notice for Baltimore… there will be dining and drinking.)

As much as the internet SUCKED (really, this is the biggest bone of contention with these permanent road courses, and something that is UNacceptable in this day and age) (I have a colleague at Road America this weekend experiencing the same thing) I can’t say enough about how amazing the staff was at Mid-Ohio. I can honestly say I didn’t have ONE run in with anyone the whole weekend. This, if you travel with the circuit, is an anomaly. There is always one “rent-a-cop” or rogue volunteer who goes out of their way to make your weekend a living hell at some of the events on the circuit, but not here. If anything it was the opposite. Everyone went out of their way to make sure our days went as smooth as possible. If you were there and get a spare moment, please take a moment to give a shout out to the staff and volunteers. They deserve it.

The race… Well, you couldn’t have asked for a better, more exciting race. Green from flag to flag, passes for the lead, a first time winner, and racers driving the wheels off those cars, laying down lap after lap of at a qualifying pace. It’s what you want as a race fan. It’s what you want as someone who wants to see the series not only succeed but flourish in the years to come.

And then there is Charlie. Auntie Meesh had a moment in Victory circle, wiping the proud tears away, as Charlie made his way to the podium. I was called out on my affection for these drivers earlier this year. But it is something I won’t apologize for. One can’t help but personalize. I’ve known some of these kids since they were kids! I’ve watched them grow from boys to young men, excelling at their craft. I’ve cheered for their successes, and felt the tears sting the back of my eyes at their heart breaks. It has truly been an honour to be there this year as one by one each of them has achieved the ultimate success. The top step of the podium. I was in victory circle for James, and Simon, and now Charlie. The only one I missed was Taku. It is my hope to be there when the rest of the up and comers have their moment in the spotlight (Josef… I’m looking at you kid!)

Post Mortem/final thoughts:

As the week wrapped up, the talk quickly went from how amazing the race was, and what a terrific accomplishment it was for Charlie and his engineer, to “the sky is falling” when the final rating was shared on the interwebs.

Did the ratings reflect the weekend? No, not in the least. But you know what? So fucking what. (be warned, there has been a little consumption of alcohol this afternoon)

It is what it is, our TV package sucks, we know that, and a bunch of “We’re doomed!!” conversations about it after the fact from a bunch of arm-chair jockeys who probably pvr’d it, isn’t gonna make a fucking difference one way or another. So here’s my suggestion. If, in fact, we are “doomed”, then lets make the best of it. Let’s all get in our cars, or on a plane, and put our asses in the grandstands for the remaining races of the season. If, in fact, this is the death-knell (which I don’t believe for ONE fucking moment it is) then lets make the very best of these final events.
At the very least, try to be part of the solution.

I’m so sick of the negativity. (I know that may come off as disingenuous from someone known as the “rage’n Canadian”) But, and I will stand by this to the very end, I may be harsh with my criticisms at times, but it always comes from a place of love, and I ALWAYS provide a suggestion for improvement. I don’t just bitch for the sake of bitching.
Pointing out the obvious, and stirring the pot of petulance serves no purpose.

*steps off soapbox*

Bottomline is, if the owners are willing, and the drivers are willing and the sponsors are willing, then I’m willing to stick it out until the bitter end. If that’s a month from now, a year from now, or a decade from now, then I’m there dammit (barring any unforeseen illness or accident)

Now stop bitching about the ratings (which we have ZERO control over) and just wallow in how fucking amazing this season has been, and how lucky we are to be able to watch it unfold in front of us.

EDIT:
Oops! I forgot to link to my pics from the weekend: Mid-Ohio 2013

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