Indy/Detroit – Rewind!

I was feeling guilty about not writing about my Indy/Detroit jaunt yet, but then I looked at the calendar. I got home late Monday night… a week ago. Tues-Thursday were spent catching up on “real job” work & sleep. Friday shot a wedding for 18hrs, Saturday sleep/work/bbq/watch the Texas race, Sunday sleep, grocery shop, work, catch up on writing/editing… today? (Monday) work, write, recap, upload photos, post!

One of the downsides of driving to events is that all that valuable commuting time, which I normally make use of in airport lounges and on planes, is spent actually driving. So no time to write, edit, post, etc… so bear with me as I go back in time to recap in what will surely be a random brain purge that will make little sense to anyone but me.

I came into Indy this year with an attitude adjustment. I find this event so frustrating every year for a multitude of reasons. This year, instead of fighting against it, I just took whatever happened as it came. I came in with no expectations, letting the schedule and ideas unfold naturally. This was definitely the way to go. Much less stressful. Well, for me anyway… everyone else was in the usually stress vortex that is the Month  Three weeks of May.

My roomie for this round was again @therossbynum And we had a hoot! This picture pretty much sums up our weekend LOL!


It’s funny, when we first booked our hotel, “by the airport”, it sounded so far away. It was not. It was actually a very easy, quick commute to/from the track thankfully.  Which meant for the first time in all my visits to Indy, I managed to be on the grounds when the canon went off on Race day morning. (silly I know, but it has been a goal since the first time I went) It also conveniently took us past “Mug n’ Bun” each day. (I made sure to fuel up on their world famous root beer daily) (pretty sure I’m topped up through to 2014)

The race itself was pretty awesome. I was so happy to see TK finally get that Indy monkey off his back. Would I have preferred to see it under green? Of course. Did it make it any less thrilling? not at all. He earned that win with every pass he made throughout the race. Would he have held the lead were there to be a restart? Maybe, maybe not. (most likely there would have been a massive wreck) Would the gathered masses have been happy with anyone but TK winning that day… hard to say, but I can tell you, without hesitation, that the roof blew off the place every time he took the lead.

oh, and sidebar: It is really illuminating to listen to who the crowd cheers for at the Driver’s intros… Let’s just say that  the “we need an American to win this race” mantra is a bunch of bull-pucky.

Highlights of the weekend:

Alex Zanardi. Nuff said. To meet him. To speak with him. To merely be in his presence. It was a bucket list moment.

Peter Dempsey pulling off the stunning 4-wide win at the Freedom 100! Man oh MAN! What a thrilling finish! And what a deserving winner! I have been a supporter of Peter since his beginnings here in the U.S., and I couldn’t have been more proud of that kid that day! Hopefully he can carry the momentum through the rest of the season.

Speaking of momentum… two things:
1) I really hate how Indy seems to suck the wind out of the sails of the season. It was running at a frenzied, OMG! pace, then it comes to a screeching halt for 3 weeks, then cranks up again.
2) How are the junior formulas supposed to gain any traction with viewership/fans with such a chopped up schedule?! We worked out in Detroit that the USF2000 kids have 1 race per month til the end of the season. BROKEN.

ok, back to highlights…

Putting a face to several names I’ve known only through twitter. Always such fun (at least for me) to meet folks in person and prove I’m not as scary as people make me out to be. (unless you’re @pressdog … then I’m positively terrifying) I would have preferred to catch up over adult beverages rather than hanging out in the SMG, but the fact that I had any time to even do that was a rare gift, so I was happy to be able to take what I could get! I won’t give individual shout outs, because inevitably I will miss someone, and they’ll be offended, yada yada yada… so, ya… that. It was great meeting all of you. And if I didn’t meet you, get your asses out to another race on the schedule and let me know you’re coming!

Race day breakfast with @josefnewgarden and his family and bff’s. (oh and @tonydizinno) You can see why Josef is so grounded and is the person he is just by spending some time with the people he surrounds himself with. Truly a pleasure, especially to chat with his mom and gush about how great I think her kid is. And thanks to Honda for breakfast! Anytime you can start your day with Bacon, it’s a good day.

I thought it would be hard for Mr. Penske (does anyone call him Roger?! it just seems wrong) and his team to top my experience from last year, but alas… it was topped! Big time!

I couldn’t be prouder of that event. It’s everything a race weekend should be, and more. I appreciate a job well done, and everyone from the suits to the volunteers do their jobs to the fullest.

I arrived early in the week this year, so I was able to participate in some of the pre-weekend events as well. Wednesday there was a Fan Fest in the heart of downtown, with several drivers in attendance for Q&A’s/autograph signings. There were activities, cars, food trucks, and the transporter parade. It took place over lunch hour, when people were spilling out of the surrounding office buildings, so it attracted the attention of folks who might otherwise not have known about the event. It is pretty funny watching grown ups get giddy with excitement when the brightly coloured transporters stream by and honk their horns.  (sidebar: these are All things that used to happen in Toronto, but have fallen into the “meh, we don’t need to do that” pile of thinking… :facepalm: )

A media luncheon took place on the Thursday (this, I have to note, is probably the third such event this year, leading up to this weekend) It was a chance to introduce some of the key players putting on the event, key drivers from each series, and a look at what to expect over the weekend. It was also probably the best meal I ate on my trip. Delish!

The media centre was once again a well oiled machine. Food/beverages from sun up to sun down. A concierge table to answer questions, a welcome table hosted jointly by  Detroit and Windsor tourism, with information, and goodies/giveaways. A relaxation lounge with couches, and on race days, some massage therapists! (I didn’t partake, but many did, and it was nice to know it was available if needed) The press conferences took place steps away from your work station , and the podium was just outside the door of the media centre. All very conducive to getting the job you’re there to do, done!

OH, and the racing! My GOD people, if you didn’t enjoy those races, there is just something wrong with you. Again, I have no idea what it looked like on TV (I think it was ABC, so I can only imagine…) but on the ground… insanity. I can’t even begin to describe how fast Mike Conway was on this track. He is just THRILLING to watch in person. (can’t wait to see him in action in Toronto next month!) Add to that the crazy mix of podium finishers! and Wow. Just wow. This season is just off. the. hook. I swear I was smiling just as much as the boys on the podium on Sunday. It’s not just the drivers that I’m happy for, but also the crews. I’ve known a lot of these guys for years, and for years during the pre-race grid I’ve said to them “see you in victory circle”. So it’s always so nice when it actually happens!!

Ok, rambling brain purge done I guess. I’m sure I’ll think of other things along the way, but for now these are the things that stood out.

I worked hard, played hard, made new friends, reacquainted with old friends, saw great racing, saw not so great racing, was surprised by some people in a good way, but was also surprised by people in a not so good way.

It feels like it was a lifetime ago, and yet it was only a week!

As I tweeted upon my return: 12 days, 5 states, 3 races, hundreds of conversations, thousands of photos, infinite memories…

A huge thanks to my most awesome friend @pcaporali and my furry friend Miss Izzy for allowing me to be their roommate for the week in Detroit! And of course to @hondacanada for the fabulous 2013 Honda Civic Coupe to test drive on this trip!

I’ve posted a bunch of albums on my Pit2Podium Facebook page, so please feel free to check them out! (and maybe give the page a like while you’re there 😉 )

and now I’m off to do laundry and re-pack to head to Milwaukee this weekend!

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