Making Connections At Indy

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By Susan Phillips

As I sat there watching bump day, which was a little bittersweet—it was the end of one of the best weekends in my life. As you all know, we took a leap of faith, as so many people do who marry, and married my best friend. That sounds so cliché these days, but it is true. We have had a long abiding friendship for many years. I think marriages work best that way. George is the “cheese to my macaroni”–one of my favorite quotes from the movie, Juno. I will not wax on poetically here, but you catch my drift.

Another connection I have written many times about here (OK—almost every post I write) is my connection to my son, Eric. When we went to Barber last month, the connection just wasn’t there. I don’t know if he has grown out of needing to be with his mom anymore, or since I was around him on a daily basis until last year when he moved out on his own– I just never noticed how quiet he is. Whatever the reason he has slipped out of my reach.

Since writing this blog, it has been a privilege to see how IndyCar works. The behind the scenes places that few get to go. Hopefully it will be the same next week and I can take Eric along for the ride. I hope his face is still shining as he chases Tony Kanaan down to get his new die-cast autographed (and yes, they do have the new Kanaan car and many others—impressive!) I miss the kid that I brought here 10 years ago. I guess that is the lament of many parents—how fast the kids grow up. They move from those fairly easy to please children, to the “I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt” young adults.

I had high hopes for this weekend, and they far exceeded whatever I could have dreamed. I have high hopes for next weekend with Eric, and I will not be the only one—every driver in the field has the hope of wearing that Borg-Warner wreath around their neck. Did George mention that my bouquet was made of the same kind of orchid that adorn the wreath. Mine only had five orchids–33 might have been a bit over the top.

I guess since I have been a little bit behind he scenes here, I never realized how hard the drivers work making connections at Indy. Sponsorship, fans, and teammates and owners—those are big connections that need to be made and kept. I used to think the team just chose a driver, put them in a car, and they got into the race. Last year was the first time I really noticed that many drivers would leave the track on Sunday disappointed. Lack of great position in the field, lack of sponsorship, or lack of a qualifying time to make the field all culminate into a disappointing end to the weekend of qualifying. The connections just get lost somewhere.

As I sat thinking about what a great weekend I had and how, like all good things, the whirlwind weekend is came to an end. I realize many will not leave the track as lucky as I am today. Then I realized that I never got to throw my bouquet—not the one I carried in the wedding, but the one my florist made to throw. There were no single women around to catch it after the wedding. I quickly grabbed my wedding bouquet and slipped one of the Borg-Warner orchids out and tucked it into the ribbon.bouquet

Earlier I had seen Pippa Mann in the Social Media garage—a fan favorite as always–and handed her my bouquet. Not as a consolation prize for not making this year’s race, but from a newlywed to the next bride, a hope and a wish for the future. For with all things, this will be a memory for us all as we sit around on the porch, nursing our Maalox, and talk about the memories we had at the track.

As it is my wish for her, my son, and all who are fans–to remember these days–the good and the bad, and keep all the connections you make alive. I am a graphic designer, I was born to create art. While not as glamorous as a racecar driver, I have had my share of professional victory lanes. It is a profession I love. Maybe it is my age, maybe it is my experience, but my job it is just a part of who I am. I have other facets and memories–walking down the aisle, the day each of my children were born, and the hope I felt clutching that diploma on graduation day.

What you do for a living, no matter how much it is in your blood, is just a portion of who you are. I believe the connections you make on a personal level; and the character, hard work, and love it takes to maintain them are the ones that will sustain you throughout your life. I have high hopes for making more memories with Eric next week, because I want to make that connection again.

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9 Responses to “Making Connections At Indy”

  1. Ron Ford Says:

    Well spoken Susan and so very true. I just finished reading some comments from Jay Howard about how he intended to be a good host to his sponsors this week, despite losing his ride, in an effort to maintain a connection with them. Hopefully that extra effort will pay off for him next year.

    Congratulations to you and George.

  2. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Great thoughts Susan, thanks…

  3. I was so sorry I didn’t get to see you two together this weekend to say congratulations!

  4. Susan, I couldn’t agree more. Also, I had one of the most memorable and fabulous weekends ever and I can’t thank you and George enough for sharing it with me!

  5. Susan, that was you? You stepped in an out so fast we didn’t get a chance to say hello. Congratulations to you and George. It was an incredible weekend for me as well, lots of incredible memories.

  6. Thanks for sharing these intimate thoughts of yours Susan. I brought my wife and kids to Pole Day this year (first trip as a family to the Speedway) and despite how good a day it was for us all, I will be sure to only treasure it more 10 years from now when they’re 21 and 18. Congrats to you and George and to Eric as well. Best wishes for a great race weekend!

  7. 97point6 Says:

    What a nice article and a wonderful gesture to Pippa Mann. Well done.

    • A big part of this post evolved from that chance meeting with Pippa. I hope she doesn’t mind that I wrote about it.

  8. Matt B. (Dayton, OH) Says:

    What a great post Susan. I know of one thing you and George have in common – you both write extremely well. Seems to flow so naturally. I never miss a post!

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