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… 😉 (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 with 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!
*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.
Looking forward to the Glen.