Earlier in the week, I was approached via Twitter by the Aunt of a 6 year old girl named Elsa. She said that Elsa was super interested in meeting some engineers in IndyCar, but had no idea how to go about connecting her with anyone that could help. With her only being 6, I knew that taking her back to the garages was impossible, so I set out on Twitter asking for help. I got a quick response from Dale Coyne Racing (and Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ) Engineer Brandon Fry who is responsible for the #63 IndyCar of Pippa Mann this month. Also quick to respond was Firestone Racing Engineer, Cara Adams, who actually invented the wear sensor in the rain tires. We sent a few emails around and before long, we had a time set up for Elsa and the Engineers to meet and chat.
Elsa is definitely a young engineer in the making, taking part in STEM programs in her home state of Baltimore as often as she can. Elsa even insisted on having a robot themed birthday party for her 6th birthday. Mom, Laura said that they took apart a small handheld vacuum cleaner together just to see how the motor worked. Hmmm IndyCar are you paying attention..keep this girl on your radar! I was so excited to see Elsa and the Engineers meet!
Cara from Firestone Racing was the first Engineer to make it to our designated meeting spot in the Pagoda Plaza on Saturday morning, and Elsa’s face lit up. Cara knelt down and talked to Elsa about all kinds of cool science projects like dropping an egg wrapped in some type of protective padding/packaging from different heights to figure out what was the best material to protect the egg. That is something fun that anyone can do at home with their kids. She encouraged Elsa to learn everything she can in every subject. Cara comes from an engineering minded family, so it’s no surprise that she wound up at Firestone Racing as a Tire Engineer. The tires on IndyCars are incredibly reliable and safe, and Cara is a huge reason why. She also gave Elsa some cool Firestone Racing gear to sport for the rest of the weekend. Elsa was pretty darn happy! Thank you Cara, and Firestone Racing!
Brandon from Dale Coyne was the next to stop by to talk to Elsa. He told her a story about how he made his own wooden go-kart with lawn mower tires, and a rope steering system when he was a kid. When he talked about how he stopped after racing his go-kart down the hill, I shuddered as a Mom (he wore out the heels of his shoes! Aaaccck!Shoes are expensive!) Brandon majored in Mechanical Engineering, and has worked with Pippa Mann in the past, and most recently was engineer for the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team in IMSA. I think Elsa was overwhelmed that she had gotten to talk to not one, but two totally awesome engineers. She was in awe of them, and of the surroundings in general. It was a big day for Elsa and the Engineers.
Thank you SO SO much to Cara and Brandon for coming out this morning after IndyCar practice to speak to Elsa. I’m sure today is a day she will remember always, as she pursues her education and interest in engineering. Seemingly little things, like meeting engineers can make a child feel connected to the series, and definitely can keep them engaged and interested in IndyCar as they grow up. Next Generation Fans matter, and I think Cara and Brandon definitely get that.
Thank you to Elsa’s Aunt Jenny for reaching out to me at IndyCarMom, I’m glad I could help Elsa meet some pretty awesome folks in IndyCar this morning.
Elsa, it was wonderful to meet you and your Mom, Laura! I hope you had fun this morning, and that you enjoy the rest of your time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway