It’s May. In Indy. It’s frickin’ MAY IN INDY. I mean… it’s here. Insert devil horns and death metal. Let’s DO THIS.
I’m both thrilled and giddy to introduce you to this week’s post. It’s a list of some of the cool things-n-stuff from this season so far. Enjoy in moderation. No, screw that. Have at it.
In no particular order…
1. Sao Paulo Debacle
If you were lucky enough to attend the season-opener in Sao Paulo, then move onto the next one and please accept this middle finger as my gift to you. For the rest of us, the place to be was the Brickyard Crossing Flag Room. If you aren’t in the grandstands at a race, I firmly believe that watching it on a big screen with the IMS grandstands in your peripheral vision is a close P2. The service was horrendous but the company made up for it. And the chicken fingers were pretty darn good. The fact that I had to DVR the race and watch it later at home is merely a formality.
2. Panther Racing’s Hometown Hero
I’ll start by saying this is an epic FAIL on my part. Not sure why it took me so long to realize how incredibly awesome this program is, but as I sat at a table outside the Media Center at Kansas, I watched a number of our servicemen and women walking around the infield. I’ve seen them before and it never seemed out of place. So I pulled out my laptop and did a little research. What I discovered is that Panther Racing chooses to honor a Hometown Hero at every single race on the IZOD IndyCar schedule in the U.S. That Hero gets an afternoon in the hospitality tent, special recognition in the pre-race ceremonies and even a specially-designed hero card that he/she signs at the driver autograph session.
According to the Panther website, owner John Barnes says this: “Honoring these men and women has honestly become my favorite part of the IndyCar race weekend. I’m a racer at heart, but the extraordinary people I’ve been able to meet through our Hometown Hero program is something that is very special to me. I’m appreciative to the National Guard for allowing us to honor these heroes.”
Panter Racing… I salute you.
3. New IMS website
The first time I laid eyes on the old IMS website, it was like that feeling you get when you bang your elbow really hard. It hurts like a motha and you feel a little sick. Yep, it was like that. Cuz it’s IMS… it’s so rich with tradition and there’s a feeling that you only know if you’ve been there. And the website captured… NONE OF THAT. But it’s a new era. I got to see a little of the site before it launched this week and when I did, my head was like, ‘Awesome’ and my heart was like, ‘Hell yesssssss.’ It captures the feeling. It respects the memories. And it effing rocks. Nice work to all involved. When you have a moment to enjoy the journey, check it out at www.IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com.
4. The Inside Pass is Born
Warning: This is a shameless self-promotion. But I’m excited, so just smile and nod. The Inside Pass was launched at Barber Motorsports Park. From the two chicks who brought you Winter Indy Tweetup and May Indy Tweetup, it’s a racing organization for the fans, by the fans. It exists to be the connection between the fans and the IZOD IndyCar Series. And there’s some cool shit a-brewin’. Want to know more? Go to www.TheInsidePass.com.
5. IZOD Race to the Party
I’ve been pretty clear about my love for IZOD so far this season. But if ever there was an event to make my heart go all grinchy and grow three sizes, it was the Race to the Party. For the love of fast cars and hot models, these guys rented out Hollywood Blvd for the entire freaking day. The event included a mobile pit stop challenge, meet & greets with the drivers, a variety of celebrities and bunch of other cool stuff. The Firestone Firehawk even brought out his bevy of beauties to launch shirts. That guy don’t miss the high-profile events.
6. Pace Car ride at Kansas Speedway
It’s not every day that I go 125 mph. It’s every other day. But that’s beside the point. Should you do the IZOD IndyCar Pace Car ride? Magic Eightball says, “Without a doubt.” It’s spectacular. I had the pleasure of riding the oval with Martin Plowman, Firestone Indy Lights driver. James Hinchcliffe was also there to escort fans around the Kansas Speedway. Both are a lot of fun, as are the rest of the Pace Car team, I’m told. They even chatted with us before the ride, at which point I asked them to please go as fast as the car would allow. Unfortunately the limiter stopped us at 125, so I’ll consider this practice for the two-seater. No matter… either do it or hop off the train to TrueFansVille.
So we’ve all heard of Fathead. You know those giant wall sticker thingies of your favorite athletes? Well check this shizz out… an Indianapolis-based company is bringing the same concept for the IZOD IndyCar Series. You can get your favorite drivers, their cars, series logos – you name it. And for once, it’s not a primarily-Nascar-but-what-the-hell-lets-do-IndyCar-too type deal. These guys rock. The IndyCar part of the site is still being built but contact them for your orders. Check it out at http://www.Pinhedz.com.
8. Joel Miller Competes at Long Beach
I love this story and had to share. Watch for this guy to come up through the ranks. And you can be his sponsor for only $10. I already am. BAM.
Joel Miller’s driving talent is important, but pounding the pavement is what got the 21-year-old from Hesperia, Calif., a ride in the FIL race at Long Beach. In his Andersen Racing entry, Miller finished P11 despite having lost 2nd gear during the race. Miller has racked up all sorts of accomplishments in karting, Skip Barber, USF2000 and Star Mazda to earn his chance. But, as is often the problem in racing, money was the stumbling block, and one day he decided to do something about it.
“I just took off driving from home to Long Beach, and I visited every single company and person I knew along the way,” Miller said. “With smaller amounts from a lot of different companies and individuals added together, I was able to get close enough to say, ‘I think I can do it.’”
Miller is still soliciting funds to help make his appearance at other races a reality. He took some time off from school to pursue his racing career, but he’s currently a junior mechanical engineering major at the University of California, Riverside. Looking to build on the idea of local supporters, Miller has established the website www.jmillerindy.com for anyone to get involved for $10. Also check out www.joelmillerracing.com for updates.
9. Andretti v3.0
This is just cool. And by ‘cool,’ I mean, ‘hot dayum, that’s swell.’
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10. ABC Cares About the Fans
Until this morning, I only had nine cool things on my list. Wasn’t really sure what to add for the tenth. Then I got an email from one of the Media Relations team at ABC/ESPN. He had read last week’s blog (complete with full-on rant about ABC’s coverage) and decided to do something about it. In the email, he said, “I know our coverage isn’t your favorite but hope you’ll see the effort and care that goes into our Indy 500 telecast.” Now that, my friends, is pretty sweet. It’s what I like to call “pulling a Randy Bernard.” If you listen to the fans and do something about it, you get a gi-nor-mous race gIRL thumbs up. Nice work.
Editor’s note: Your eyes are completely buggin’ right now, aren’t they? I know (because you’ve told me) that you hate the white-on-black text. I’m working on a new website. Be patient with me or go get your sarcasm somewhere else.