coming up for air…

This will be more of a personal brain purge. Apparently the final Champ Car race affected me on a much deeper level than I thought it would. I’ve barely been able hold a conversation since I got back. Only today did I peruse my favorite blogs and peek in on some forums. So, I’m going to just clear my head of the post race fog that I’ve been floating in since my plane landed on Tuesday.

Funnily enough, I was one of the one’s that jumped on the unification bandwagon almost immediately, willing to give it a fair shot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still moving forward. I just didn’t realize how painful that would actually be post Champ Car’s demise. Going to Long Beach was like ripping off the band-aid. See, I’ve always been a let the band-aid fall off on it’s own kinda gal, so this was quite the step.

I don’t regret going, especially after seeing the bullshit broadcast TSN tried to pass off as a race. (unfuckingbelievable, seriously) Truthfully, I probably worked harder at this race than any other. (doing triple duty as managing editor, writer and PR rep stand in for a driver) Maybe that’s why it’s hitting me now, post race weekend. I just didn’t have enough time to really find the closure there.

There was such a weird undertone of emotions. I spoke with many of my friends on crews and employed throughout the series. Most weren’t as angry anymore, rather more disappointed and resigned to the reality of the situation. Understanding the why but not approving the how. Basically how we are all feeling. The hardest thing to come to grips with was that those amazing smiling faces I’ve become accustomed to seeing as part of my race weekend would no longer be there after Sunday. I just wanted to scoop them all up and take them with me.

And lets not forget the walking protest billboards. So many people spending so much of their time being angry. I didn’t want to waste a precious moment of that weekend on anger. I just wanted to celebrate all that we had with my friends. My racing family. It was really lovely getting the opportunity to chat with the crew members and drivers and staff at the farewell party on Sunday night. It was however strange separating the folks I would see at the next race from the ones I would likely never see again. Such a kick in the gut to get those last hugs.

Sunday morning I had the displeasure of overhearing a conversation between the IndyCar rep and the LBGP organizers. Seems they were flying Danica in for the race (duh… saw that coming a mile away) and had decided they were going to put her on the podium in our Victory Circle. I can’t even describe the rage that bubbled up from inside. This was OUR event. OUR farewell. She had NOTHING to do with this event. NOTHING. Face it, we are going to have Danica shoved down our throats all fucking year, we know that, we’ve accepted that. But to put her on OUR podium, taking that moment away from our drivers at our last event… no. fucking. way. Luckily Chris Esslinger felt the same way, and went about making several calls to prevent that from happening. The compromise was of course not much better, having her in the booth and taking away from the final moments of the race, but at least Will, Franck and Mario got to enjoy their podium on their own.

Sunday, in general, was heartbreaking. I walked to the track alone that morning, choking back the tears as I walked through the gates. I knew this day would be a tough one, but I didn’t realize just how tough until about an hour later. There was a moment of acknowledgment in the photographers meeting for Billy Kamphausen, one of the pillars of the CCWS, and yet one of the first to be tossed aside, that brought the emotions right to the surface. Then I overheard the Danica conversation… well, you know how everyone has a breaking point? Apparently that was mine. I headed back to my spot in the media room, and in the middle of handing out assignments to my photographers, just burst into tears. (what would Olsen say about crying in the press room???) It really was quite comical, thinking back on it, to watch their reactions! They immediately scattered with the most hysterical expressions on their face. If they had thought bubbles they would have read “OMG! Meesh is leaking! what do we do??”.

Look. I’m a broad. A large, loud, smack-talking broad. One of those “one of the guys” gals. So for me to lose it like that is very very out of character. It was a brief moment of release and it was over as quickly as it started. I basically told myself to “suck it up buttercup” and went about my business for the day. There was much to be done, and not a lot of time to do it in.

As with every race weekend, race day went by in a flurry of activity. A lot of running from grid to paddock to media centre, and back again, several times over. I was able to lose myself in the on track activity for the most part (that is, after all, why were are there in the first place) then spent the last few hours at the track running from hauler to hauler to say goodbye. Again, something I do every race weekend, but never with such a sense of finality.

This was a wake of sorts. A four day, post-mortem, celebration of the deceased.
Everyone was walking around almost in a state of shock. Like one does when you find out you’ve lost a loved one. As in that scenario, we will all move on. It will be hard at first, but eventually we may even find a new love. Even so, we will always hold a special place in our heart for our Champ Car years, and the memories and friends acquired along the way.

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6 responses to “coming up for air…

  1. Meesh! Glad to see you’ve resurfaced! And now I see why you went missing. I am just a fan, so my connections only go as deep as a TV. I can understand how much tougher this must be for you and people closer to the situation. And, in the beginning, I was mad enough to go all A.J. at someone on the other side. But, I think you’ve got it right at the end of your post: I am cheering for a new love for all of us. The beginning will definitely be tough, but I think there’s going to be new money and talent coming into the sport like we haven’t seen since the split. I’ll bet ’09 will be really strong. Either way, I am glad you’re back on your feet! I missed your posts and I am sorry to hear that’s why you went quiet. It’ll be OK, man – buck up, little Tiger! ; )

  2. LOL.. thanks! I feel better having just spewed that all out. I sat down several times this week to do just that, but the words wouldn’t come.

    I too am hopeful for 09. It HAS to get better. There are so many people’s livelihoods riding on it. American Open Wheel itself is riding on it.

    Consider me “bucked up” 😉

  3. Meesh – I basically felt this way back when the bankruptcy hearings were going on. At least you got to have a catharsis at Long Beach – for me, when CART died with a whimper (thanks, Mr. Pook, you ASSHOLE), it was like having a relative pass away from a long illness. There’s not so much of the sudden shock but it lingers with you far longer than an abrupt end like Champ Car had.

    So I totally empathize with you on that score. But the thing to remember is that you will likely see most of the people involved with Champ Car in IndyCars in some capacity in the next couple of years. There may not be a place for some of them now but as (if) the series regains its footing then there will be a call for experienced people.

    Keep your eyes on the future – the past only serves to curdle the present.

  4. The funny part is, having come to terms with the CART thing during the bankruptcy, I figured this time would be easier. Of course I hadn’t taken into account the difference in my involvement this time. It was the human shrapnel that took it’s toll. I hope that eventually those left on the sidelines will find a place again, whether it be on a series level or an event level.

    and yes, swimming in the past does not further our journey in the future.

  5. GREAT blog, Meesh.

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