As an IndyCar Parent, I know what it’s like for me taking Gage to the track on race weeked. He plays, helps me work, says hello to his favorite IndyCar Drivers and friends, and then ultimately sometime on Sunday afternoon, he gets bored, or hungry, or just plain grumpy. I’ll be brutally honest here…It’s at that point he begins to purposefully drive me up a wall. It’s not because he doesn’t want to be there, it’s just that he’s truly exhausted his abilities to entertain himself. He’s 8 for goodnes sake, the fact that he troops on for nearly an entire weekend without meltdown is a blessing in itself.
Watching Gage all these weekends made me wonder about the IndyCar Parents and families that are actually IN the series…the Drivers, their wives and children. What about the crew members that bring their families every weeked? What is a race weekend like for them? How do their kids react to being at a track? What do they do to keep their children entertained and happy? Is it even a big deal for them to be at a track anymore?
I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes on race day to chat with Dale Coyne Driver Justin Wilson and his lovely wife, Julia. They are the parents of two adorable little girls, Jane, 4 and Jess, 6. Jess had apparently been hanging from the ledge in the motor home just moments before we arrived. (At least my child is not the only one that can turn any surface into a gymnasium!)
Julia says that to their kids, “Daddy works. It’s no big deal. They probably think everyone’s Daddy is a race-car driver.” I honestly never thought about that before, but it makes perfect sense. For a long time, Gage assumed that every Mommy worked in a Hospital. It’s all about their perspective and what they know.
Justin and Julia both laughed and agreed that the one thing their kids both think is just the funnest thing to do at the track “is to have Daddy take them for a ride on his scooter, they just love him driving the scooter.”
Julia said normally, she and the kids only come to the tracks where they can have their motor-home. Trying to corral children in a hotel is just impossible. When they do come to races, and Justin is busy working, she will take the girls to the closest Children’s Museum, parks, pools, beaches and joked that she knows every fun place to take a child in every city on the race schedule. Despite Justin’s busy weekend schedules, they are usually able to get out and enjoy some family time before the race weekend becomes crazy and hectic.
I was told a funny story about a family outing they had earlier in the week (by someone in IndyCar that shall remained unnamed) and when I mentioned the words “fish” and “bucket” both Justin and Julia’s eyes widened and they laughed, Julia even clamping her hands over her mouth giggling. Apparently they had been at the beach, and Jess got her hands on this fish, and was loving on the fish, kissing the fish, carrying the fish around like a pet, (all the while the fish is of course dying from being out of the water) when all of a sudden the spikes on it hurt Jane somehow. Jess sees a bucket, and the family thinks “oh she’s going to put the fish in the bucket,” but no. Instead, Jess takes the fish and whaps it against the bucket several times. Julia said she was absolutely mortified and looked around, just hoping no one was watching. Ahh kids, embarassing us like no one else can! What a funny story, and I’m glad they shared, although I did take them a bit by surprise!
I’m glad the Wilson’s are just like the rest of us IndyCar Parents when it comes to the quest of keeping our kids entertained at the track. It makes me feel better as an IndyCar Parent to know that even the Drivers have to worry about keeping their young ones under control and happy!
Thank you so much to the Wilson’s for their time, and laughs. We definitely wish Justin the best this season, and look forward to seeing them and their girls at the next track they attend!