The inaugural GP of Indianapolis was on Saturday, May 10th and boy what weekend it was! We drove in early Friday, and after a slight delay, we finally arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the GP of Indianapolis weekend! I had a lot on my agenda for the weekend, including volunteering a the Indy Family Foundation’s Festival on Main presented by Firestone, accompanying my friend Shay to the inaugural RevIndy event at IMS, the Indy Fans TweetUp on Saturday morning, and then the race itself Saturday afternoon.Apparently I missed a LOT of kids at the track on Thursday, as it was field-trip day for the schools in the area (I seriously need to talk my soon to be hubby into moving to Indianapolis!) I wish I could have seen all their faces and reactions to seeing the cars and Drivers. Note to self, come up on Thursday next year!
FRIDAY, MAY 9th 2014
Qualifying: We arrived at IMS around 11 on Friday, and of course, my first action was to take my Pagoda picture. The sky was partly sunny, but it was obvious the clouds were building for rain prior to the start of Qualifying for the GP of Indianapolis.
The crowd was a decent size, although I think the threat of rain may have sent some folks scattering early, or kept them home entirely for the day.
The rain held off until the last few rounds of Qualifying which made things tricky for Ryan Hunter Reay as he spun and hit the wall in the last few minutes of qualifying, eliminating his fastest lap time, meaning Sebastian Saavedra and KVSH Racing took the Pole position for the Inaugural GP of Indianapolis.
We didn’t stay long after that, I had to get ready for the Indy Family Foundation IFFFest and RevIndy. Gage was hungry, so we were quickly leaving the grounds when I spotted a young fan in his rain poncho, racing his toy IndyCar in the rain. Gage was being just a tad impatient, so I didn’t get a chance to ask the child’s name, I could only grab a quick picture of him.
IFFFest: We left IMS and headed to our hotel, with about an hour to spare before I had to be at the Dunk Tank at the IFFFest. We grabbed a bite to eat, then headed out the door and back to the town of Speedway, under a very ominous looking sky. Everyone was still setting up when we arrived, and I met one of my good friends and partner in running the Tank, Aaryn. Our first Dunkee was none other than the Grid Runner himself, Mr. Robin Miller. Now, Tony Kanaan had gotten wind several days prior that Robin was going to be there, so he was more than eager to get the first throws.
The news cameras were ready to roll live, Robin was seated in the hot seat, and TK was all warmed up. Robin was taunting TK with a chant of “TK Weenie Arm! TK Weenie Arm!” TK grinned and took aim. His first throw was a miss, but the second one hit the target dead on and Robin was dunked!
Just as Robin got himself settled back on the seat, I saw a Sneaky Dunker Duo slam the target with their hands and dunk Robin again…..who were these hooligans? None other than Team Penske Drivers Will Power and Juan Montoya! They looked most pleaed with themselves, and sauntered away in matching stride like something out of Pulp Fiction. Same grin, same strides, the only thing missing was a black suit and bow tie. The crowd erupted in laughter as Robin tried to figure out what in the heck had just happened. As if those two dunks weren’t insult enough, Tony George got in on the action, and dunked poor Robin a 3rd time.
The Dunk Tank was a popular spot to be, as we had Chris Hagan, Jennifer Ketchmark, Curt Cavin, JMV and last but not least the UFD Racing girls take the hot seat. Before I knew it, my time was up, and I had to get ready for the next event of the evening on my schedule, RevIndy.
RevIndy: My friend Shay was on the RevIndy Social Media crew, and had asked me to join her as her “+1″. I arrived at IMS around 9:30, after quickly changing into my cocktail attire, and was immediately in awe of the beautiful set up behind the Pagoda. Lights, music and the sound of people talking, laughing and having a great time filled the air.
“Rev is a Methodist Health Foundation marquee event for Indiana University Health and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to raise funds to provide support for IU Health Statewide Trauma programs, including medical services for drivers and patrons of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” (RevIndy website).
Everywhere you looked, there were attendees dressed to the Nines, in glittery, shimmering dresses, high heels and suits. Needless to say, I felt a little bit out of my safe zone. I am used to wearing scrubs for a living, not Badgley Mischka Of course I “Lillianed” in my car before getting out…(What if I fall, what if my dress looks stupid, what if I say something dumb to someone important?”)Despite my stomach being in that nervous knot all evening, I had fun. The event was a great time, with live bands rocking each of the chalets, delicious nibbles of food that IndyCar Drivers had paired up with local chefs and restaurants to create, and champagne and wine. All in all it was a wonderful event, and I am thankful to Shay for inviting me. It was nice to be able to go and enjoy myself, instead of having to do the Social Media thing myself. We both knew that a long day was ahead of us on Saturday, so we called it a night around 11, headed back to the hotel, laughed with our roomie and good friend CogitoErgoBibo (i shall not reveal her name here!) and finally got to sleep around 1am.
SATURDAY, MAY 10 2014
A former coworker of mine sent me these pics of his little 7 month old nephew Jenson, and I just had to feature him here as our young race fan of the weekend. Jenson was at the GP of Indianapolis with his Mom Jillian, and Dad Bryan. This inaugural race was also HIS 1st race. How fitting AND adorable. Tony (the Uncle) told me that Jenson was intently watching the cars on track, and that he was completely capitvated by them…I think we definitely have a future IndyCar Fan in the making! Thanks Tony for sharing this with me!
Indy Fans TweetUp: Pippa Mann and I chose Saturday morning for our GP of Indianapolis Indy Fans Tweet Up. Obviously her schedule has become a tad more complicated since announcing her Indy500 ride with Dale Coyne Racing, and the partnership between her and the Susan G Komen foundation. (On a side note, if you’d like to donate, please go to Race With Pippa and make a donation based on $/per lap Pippa completes this month)
I picked the exact location, as we had decided on somewhere in the Pagoda Plaza but because it was so crowded we needed a super specific location (yay IndyCar fans!!) I found a semi-empty spot and claimed it for ours. People started joining the fun just a few minutes before the posted start time.
What an amazing turnout! There were at least 50-60 people there all together from start to finish. The best thing about these tweetups is the HUMAN INTERACTION that goes on. We introduce ourselves, we talk, we laugh, we take selfies! We connect with one another, and new friendships are made.
These are the people you then make a point to try and see the next race you attend, and sometimes the people you meet end up becoming some of your closest friends (you all know who you are!) Human interaction is often few and far bewteen in the age of technology. I know I feel like my face is aways down in my phone, and its refreshing to look up and actually say hello, give someone a warm handshake or embrace, and genuinely enjoy the company of others. These may be organized electronically, but the whole point is to interact. Pippa Mann is undoubtedly THE best in the IndyCar paddock for fan interaction and true appreciation. Doing these TweetUps with her have been truly fabulous, as we both have such fun engaging the fans with each other!
The IMS KidsZone
After the fun of the Indy Fans TweetUp, Gage wanted to hit the IMS Kids Zone, located in the Infield area next to the Verizon IndyCar Fan Village. They had a rock-climbing wall, simulated Military exercises (tunnel crawl, wall climb, etc), a dance party with Disney Radio Indianapolis, Racing Simulators, Blow up Slides and more!
All you have to do to take your kids into the IMS Kids Zone is to sign a waiver, and they are good to play. It is free to get in, the lines move quickly, and the sound of kids laughing and squealing with fun bounce through the air. Parents, please note no smoking or alcoholic beverages are permitted in the Kids Zone. It’s a fenced in area with only one way in-out, so parents can kind of hang back and just relax for a few minutes (at least I know I did.)
The GP of Indianapolis
At last, it was time for the Inaugural GP of Indianapolis to start. I had developed a bit of a headache at that point, and Gage was hot and tired so we didn’t make the trek to one of the viewing mounds as planned. We watched the start on the big screen in the Pagoda, and after waiting to make sure Sebastian Saavedra was alright after the crash, we made our way to the parking lot where we could see the cars racing by.
We stayed for about 15 laps, and then decided to head home. Gage had a soccer tournament VERY early the next morning, and I was just done for. We did listen to the race for as long as we could get reception on 107.5 The Fan, and the I had Gage monitoring my Twitter Verizon IndyCar14 App for the final laps. We were both SO happy for one of our favorite Drivers Simon Pagenaud as he took the Checkered for the Inaugural GP of Indianapolis. I like to think that us leaving early and NOT wishing him our best before the race was the lucky charm for him to win…whatever works, right?
While I didn’t have any issues with race weekend, I know several parents were upset that their kids couldn’t get into the Garages on Saturday with their Jr. Garage passes. Folks, read carefully as those passes are not Valid on ANY race day including the 500. There is just too much craziness going on in the paddocks, and it is dangerous for kids. Don’t be upset, IMS is just protecting your kids!
Anyhoo….that does it for this post. It was a whirlwind weekend and I didn’t get to focus on the kids at the track like I normally do. I will be back in full IndyCar Mom Mode these next two weekends, so be on the lookout!!
Thanks for reading! See YOU and YOUR families at IMS this month!