So apparently my lofty ambitions of blogging throughout my race weekend were just that. Lofty ambitions. Sorry.
A little personal ranting, and then we will get to the racing…
I finally figured out why this year is so time crunched for me as opposed to last year. The extra day. I have been trying to squeeze 3 (sometimes 4) days worth of race weekend into two. Normally I have the Friday to do interviews, write story bases, take establishing shots, etc… Then Saturday to fill in the blanks, deal with breaking news, cover sessions etc… Sunday is race day, so I mostly am in the moment, taking pictures and notes and visiting and saying goodbye. On top of that I was also part of a staff of writers last year, so whomever was at the track wasn’t responsible for writing the session reports. They were there to get the other stuff done. This year… not so much staff to cover things. Work, school, “lives” and a general malcontent over the merge has all lead to me being responsible for keeping things humming online with one or two helping to pick up the slack when available. That’s one Meesh, 7 months, fours series, hundreds of sessions, teams, drivers and stories. This weekend, the pre-weekend race preview was never written or uploaded, despite the promise of it being done. The race report, which was supposed to be covered was also never taken care of. With a bit of warning in advance I could try to cover these things off or take care of them myself in a more timely fashion. Instead I am left scrambling last minute and the site flounders embarrassingly. For example, I never had time to do a complete write up post race (which I discovered was not written) before I had to leave the track. No internet where I was staying meant that the full race report didn’t get posted until I got to the train station this afternoon for my return trip home. UNACCEPTABLE!
Fyi…(sidenote) if you are interested in racing journalism and would like the opportunity to hone your writing skills, please drop me an email as I will be looking for a writing staff for 2009. It doesn’t pay at the moment (not even for me) but it’s a great way to get some experience and develop a bit of a portfolio. Contact me. Seriously.
OK… enough of that… WHAT A WEEKEND!
Remember when I said I didn’t know what my story would be? Well, the universe saw fit to drop a few of them into my lap.
-Doornbos letting it slip that he is all set for the 2009 IndyCar season. (do tell?!)
-Tagliani subbing for the injured Enrique Bernoldi
-Justin Wilson finally breaking through for the “transitioners” and getting that long awaited win.
-Brian Barnhart growing some stones and making the right if not too popular call. (yay for Tony Cotman who is obviously more than a little influential in the control room)
While I didn’t get a definitive answer from him, I did get an evasive one and a cheeky grin when talking to Wiggy about the quote from Doornbos. I also got what I considered to be a confirmation that my little EJ would be back next year. (of course this was before he took himself out of the race yesterday) And of course, we all know that nothing is ever a “for sure” in racing.
I couldn’t have asked for a more fortuitous change of plans for Tagliani! You see I’ve been covering his season this year since Long Beach, and have been there for all the major events. (the last minute ride in LB, his first ride in CTNS, his first win in CTNS, and now his first IndyCar ride) Of course, Alex being Alex, his story was filled with drama this weekend! I have a crapload of pictures (which will be uploaded once I get home as the train’s internet signal today is not conducive to uploading photos) This of course also changed the focus of my race day. So much of the drama of the race happened while I was behind the wall at the end of pitlane watching the Conquest crew working their asses off to get that car fixed and back in the action. Of course my first thought was that if this was Bernoldi, they would have been packing up the trailer and calling it a weekend. This being my 4th race this season, I was able to visibly notice the difference in the crew. They were absolutely lit up and motivated beyond belief. With Alex having experience with many of the crew members previously, they were on the same wavelength almost immediately. The feedback provided by Alex on the car was invaluable. His absolute passion to make the car just right is exciting to watch. I love drivers who are passionate. Who won’t settle. Who don’t get out of the car and go… “it’s crap” and just walk away. I would imagine the Conquest crew feels the same way. To have the privilege of watching them converse following the second mechanical fubar (which ultimately ended the day for Alex) was pretty cool. For all that went so horribly wrong with Alex’s day, he took off his helmet and Balaclava to reveal a huge smile. He was lit up. A kid in a candy store. In fact the whole crew remained in the pit box, watching the rest of the race and conversing despite both of their drivers being eliminated. There it was, that secret language of racing I so covet!
Before I was able to close the chapter on that story however, I was running down pitlane to the NHL pit stall to capture the crew reaction to Justin Wilson winning the race. I was so choked up with emotion I could barely hold my camera steady. All I kept thinking was “this one’s for Paul” I still get emotional thinking about it. With his incredible life in it’s final chapter, I can only imagine the huge grin on his face when Justin won, knowing that both of his drivers broke through and won in this, probably the most difficult year technically, physically and emotionally. I do believe we will be writing his epitaph sooner rather than later now.
Having friends on the crew, it was doubly emotional watching them celebrate. Genuine happiness long forgotten and much deserved.
Almost makes the full out sprint from the pitlane to the Victory circle worth it. (not bad for an old broad I must say)
As I do every race weekend, I caught up with old friends, and made some new ones. I love my racing family. I love the commonality. I love that for every moment that is expected and possibly routine, there are a dozen unexpected things that happen that get us all abuzz.
I loved that this weekend turned into a “where’s waldo” of familiar and missed folks. Seeing Billy for the first time this season was such a treat! I only really spoke with him once or twice in my Champ Car days, but he was such a staple of my race weekend. When you saw Billy, you knew that everything was under control. When I saw him on Saturday I squealed “Billy!!” and ran over and hugged him! LOL! (Gary, I will leave it to you to explain I’m not some psychopath but was just genuinely happy to see him) David Malsher also made an appearance for the first time this season. (at least that I’ve seen) Actually, all of the heavy hitters were there this weekend. Miller, Phillips, Kirby, Malsher, Oreovitz. (wow, Kirby was on a tear on Sunday. I love his fiery opinionated passion!) (surprising since I’m such a wallflower when it comes to giving my opinion… Ya RIGHT!)
Even the LAT team of photogs were there! It’s the little things like that that make my weekend. Hearing the bellowing voice of Mike Levitt at the photographer’s meetings and in the media centre just puts a big grin on my face.
See the IndyCar media room’s tend to have a funereal feel to them. Very quiet, and serious for some reason. (imagine their horror when I showed up the first time! LOL!) But with some of the “old gang” in the room, there was more of a “wake” atmosphere this weekend. Interesting, and lively. A much needed injection of energy!
I’m looking forward to watching the race when I get home. The little bits of it I managed to catch on the monitors and the jumbotron as I walked up and down pitlane looked like it was pretty interesting! The crowed was decent. The facility and Grand Prix staff were excellent. Again, I wish I had had an extra day to really explore it.
I got some leads on possible employment, which is something I really wanted to come away with seeing as this was my last IndyCar event of the season.
I can’t believe it’s almost over! Where did this year go??
Anyway… I’m gonna wrap this bloggy blog up and enjoy the last half hour of my train trip staring wistfully out the window as the landscape blurs by.
More details and photos to come… ciao