Indy 500 2009…

the aftermath…

So… A week yesterday I headed off on “Meesh’s little Indy adventure”. My first race of the season. My first road trip. My first trip to racing mecca. I didn’t really know what to expect to be truthful. To be honest, in hindsight, I think I expected more…

I felt very disconnected from the whole experience for the most part. I still do. It’s all a blur. I was so busy leading up the weekend, I had no time to really get excited. Then I was so busy when I got home, I had no time to really bask in the moment. (hence the post race blog a fucking week later)

With deadlines looming, and the thought of getting back in that fucking car… (More on that later) I was distracted for much of the time I was there. Plus any time you’re at a new track it takes a few days to get acclimated. Well I didn’t have a few days. More like hours…

The first time I was near cars on track… Well, I wasn’t. That’s the problem. I got there on Saturday. The Lights cars and drivers were gone. The IndyCar drivers did the autograph session thing. (had my brief meet ups and hugs with my PR buds and drivers) Then off to the public driver’s meeting, then they were whisked off to the parade and never came back. So there I was at a race track with no fricken racing! Ugh.

Sunday was more of the same weirdness. I briefly caught up with Tags & Nelson. Saw Oriol again (ran into him Saturday night) Gave a EJ a good luck peck on each cheek. (how European) (thought bubble: you know the drill, 2 ft taller, 20yrs older…) Then headed off to the grid, as per my usual routine, only there was nothing usual about it.

There was no warm up that day. The drivers were no were near the pits, and I got shuffled off the grid a good HOUR before any drivers made it down there. WTF?! Here it was race day and I hadn’t seen Paul. That is unfathomable to me. Normally milling about with the drivers pre-race, here I was 4 floors above it all, hoping to catch what I needed with my camera zoomed to the max. The whole experience was like watching it on tv for the most part, only louder. Except in the media room, which was like a fucking morgue most of the time. Seriously. I’ve been to louder funerals. Actually, there was much chuckling and a few “oooh”‘s when Moraes said he was going to talk to Marco… and then some uncomfortable laughter when Samantha Lloyd revealed she was in labour, but not going anywhere. Then back to the dead silence until the crashes. Miller got loud for a bit after the race. He can always be counted on to stray from the status quo… πŸ˜‰ (that’s why I luvs him so…)

There were so many people, friends & acquaintances at the track that I didn’t get to see because I had both better access & shittier access! Ironic no?
I did meet up and hang withΒ  Pressdog (Bill) and MyNameIsIRL (Jeff) who I feel like I’ve known my entire life. I wish we had had the opportunity to hoist a couple of cold ones over the weekend, rather than just sit beside each other furiously typing LOL!

Trifecta of Word Butchers!
*photo credit unknown person behind Jeff’s camera!*

I was formally introduced to Curt Cavin as “not a stalker” hehe… (thanks Jeff) Had an interesting conversation with John O (always a highlight of the weekend) (I will bring your beer to the Glen I promise!!)

The list of people I didn’t get to see or meet is way too long, and if I start to think about it, I will just get angry. As my buds are all linking to their pics I’m like YOU WERE THERE TOO?!?!
To all of you that were there that I missed, maybe another race on the circuit this season?

Things I loved about the Speedway? Well, it’s the Speedway! My first impression was that it seemed smaller than I had pictured. Once you start walking around though, you realize how NOT small it is.

The IMS media centre staff was awesome, and accommodating, but not in a begrudging way.

The cafeteria staff make the most awesome sandwiches! (I somehow missed the hot meal both days LOL!)

Honestly, I could do without the yellow shirts. Well, ok, most were ok, but there were some that will now make me snarl at anyone wearing yellow for the next little while. And those fucking whistles… gah! I have a few rather unladylike suggestions of where they can store them until next May…

oh and thank you to the awesome Canon peeps who plopped a free cap on my head (on not in) and then cleaned and updated the firmware on my camera! Cool!

The race itself, meh…
again I’m not much of an oval fan, and when you watch the race from the vantage point I did, you don’t get the sense of the track. It was a straightaway. That’s it. A magnificent straightaway, mind you, but just a straightaway. Give me Vegas or Michigan or Chicago or Milwaukee. Actually, give me Cleveland or Edmonton. Where you can see the whole thing.

And It was predictable.
Red cars dominated. Fuel was saved. Young drivers crashed. Heartbreak for Kanaan & Meira. A Penske car won.

Now, in my most humble opinion, the WRONG Penske car won, but it was the one that would get the most media play, so that is how it played out. ABC darling “Twinkletoes Castroneves” is much more sellable to the ignorant masses than a true cinderfella story like Power, fighting for his career, winning the big race and putting Penske on the spot to field him for the season. I have to wonder if the tire guy was fired for his “mistake” or given a bonus… but I digress…

Paul finished top 10. Not where he wanted to be, but definitely a great result first race out of the gate this season with yet another new team. He again proved he deserves to be in a seat fulltime (more on that later)

When it comes down to it, this “event” is all about the pomp and less about the circumstances. This tradition and that tradition, spread out over way too many days. Unless you’re there for the entire month (god forbid) or at the very least the final week, you don’t get a sense of the build up and are left scratching your head afterwards.

I did have a funny conversation with my buddy Dean McNulty from the Toronto Sun. He asked me if now that I’ve been here, did I “get it”… did I get why the IRL won the “war”. I had to admit that I did. Like it or not, with TG having this ace up his sleeve, Champ Car was never going to “win” unless this race was part of their schedule. It’s too big. It’s too historic. Again, I’ve never seen so many people in one place at one time. Too bad they don’t come to the rest of the races… just sayin.

Back to the drive… NEVER AGAIN!! What the fuck was I thinking??? 8.5 hrs my ass. That’s obviously minus any other cars on the road and absolutely ZERO stopping. I overestimated the “joy” of the solitude and was bored out of my mind after 3hrs. Since I’m apparently out of favour with the folks I used to attend races with, there was no one to even offer to drive down for company.

I started logging my trip and my thoughts on my digital recorder. BRASSY! Once I figure out how to get them online, I’ll toss them up for a laugh. On the ride back I was decidedly less “brassy”. I mostly talked to myself to stay awake at that point. From here on out. (except for the Glen, cause that is a short drive) I will be flying. I get a lot of my work done on the plane. You can’t write while you’re driving! LOL!

Ok… My inaugural Indy 500 experience is officially in the books. I carried my media pass around in my bag for the week to use as “show & tell” for my friends. Most of them don’t get it, but they appreciate how happy racing makes me, so they put up with my enthusiastic retelling of my weekend exploits.

Here are some of the pics I took this weekend. Again, not the best selection as I didn’t have much to work with. But hey, it is what it is.

Indy 500 Saturday
Indy 500 – Race Day

Looking forward to the Glen.

15 responses to “Indy 500 2009…

  1. I’m in agreement that Power’s story would have likely been met with less enthusiasm among the general public than it deserved which would be quite disappointing and that his being not in “the script” is ugly. Having said that, though this might be my Helio fandom speaking, but I really don’t see how he was “the wrong car”. Granted, he didn’t have the greatest pace, but he and his crew did what they had to do (to be fair, I did find that Power pit stop suspicious, too).

    I think if there’s a Penske car to feel screwed out of something good, it’s Ryan Briscoe. First was getting that shit set of tires that had him running at Hiro Matsushita speed. Then there was that strange strategy where they short-fueled him by way too much to even attempt a fuel saving (there’s those words again) strategy.

    Now that I have that out of the way, it still pains me when you don’t get the respect you deserve. While I don’t always agree with you, I have the utmost respect for all the work you put into your passion.

    • Oh, I completely agree that Briscoe got the short end of the stick last weekend too. He was there to provide support for Helio. Period. Hey, Helio is a sweetheart, but enough already… the story is played out.

      Let me just clarify: I felt no sense of disrespect at the track. I was treated very well and was very happy to be “invited to the party”. I was unsure of what my “clearance” would be going in. I was just thrown by the different timing of some of the things I’m used to covering. When all was said and done, I got to places most don’t, so I would be a most ungrateful cow to complain about it.

      Most of the IndyCar peeps I normally deal with were sympathetic to the limitations of my credentials, but there was nothing they could do as this was a different kettle of fish. It’s all good though! And July will rule!

  2. Please do a live blog!! I cannot get the race this week because there is a Devos Childrens Hospital Telethon. That happened last year on the race day! Hope IRL gets some money back from ABC.

  3. I can imagine you would be a bit disconnected after all that driving! (how long did it really take?) I’m still slightly bemused at the concept of a drive-thru coffee shop. Glad you got there though even if it wasn’t under ideal circumstances.

    It does seem to be a bizarre schedule at Indy and parachuting in after most of the build-up has taken place must be a bit odd.

    On ‘getting’ why they won… with the level of history and interest of the 500 any idiot can set up his own ‘league’*, take on the established status quo and win. Cheap shot I know..

    * I still smirk when I hear the term ‘league’ applied to a racing series.

    Great pics! As I keep saying at various different places online, one day I will visit it myself. May not be for a few years yet. I’d like to take in Milwaukee as part of the same trip but we’ll see how that goes. I like to think 2011 but I say crap like that all the time.

    I’m sure there’s an audio thing somewhere. Is only for iPhones, or do you have one?

    • It took a little over 9hrs there. (full disclosure: I was breaking laws big time!!! as in setting qualifying times! I’m a lucky lucky girl not to have ended up in the back of a cruiser)

      On the way back it took 11hrs. The cops were EVERYWHERE on the holiday Monday, so I set the cruise control to just about 10miles per hr over the limit, and went about trying to stay awake by talking to myself. I must have looked a little insane to other drivers! LOL!

      Cheap but true πŸ˜‰

      Thanks. Not my usual race day fare, but hey, better than nothing right?

      • Well we drive the same way πŸ™‚
        I’d imagine there were a lot of cops in a large radius around Indy because of the race as well as the holiday.
        The important thing is you were there, and a few weeks back you were telling us you weren’t going to be. That’s a result.

  4. Thanks for the photos. LOL at your comment about Danica thinking about making cookies;)

  5. Glad you made the trip, despite the far less than ideal circumstances. I agree about sitting in the main straight. Historic and cool, but I’d rather sit in one of the Turns anyday.

  6. Now that you’ve got your wind back, I’ve been dying to hear about your take on PT with AJ. I hope you can muster another post in the not-too-distant future.

  7. Hey Meesh,

    Just got caught up on your blogs for the month of May. You’re never out of favour with me. Drop me a note some time.


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