IndyCar Racing From A Mom’s Perspective

By Susan Scruggs

Note from George – I’m taking a break today and doing something I rarely do; I’m turning the site over to a guest blogger. Actually Susan Scruggs is not really a guest. She has done a lot of the “grunt work” for this site and I thought that going into an off-weekend, it would be a good time for her to share her perspective of racing – which is far different than mine. She never went to an IZOD IndyCar Series race until 2002, when I took her to the race at Nashville. She and her son started going with me to the Indianapolis 500 in 2004. To date, she and her son have attended seven races at Indianapolis, seven races at Nashville and one at Barber – so she’s not exactly a rookie. Thanks, Susan…and y’all take it easy on her. -GP

Wow! I’ve actually been handed the keys to the castle. George doesn’t let many people come here into his holy grail. But he let Roy Hobbson have it for a day, so I guess he’ll let anyone here. I can say that because I got to meet the infamous writer of “The Silent Pagoda“. If it were up to me, Oilpressure would be a little more like that, but that’s not George’s style. Being an art major and a graphic designer, I‘m a little more eclectic than George (who isn‘t?). I’m not into all of the history and stuff that he is. Actually, I’m here by invitation as sort of a payback for being ignored at Indy for 2 straight weekends. I hate to tell him, but filling in so he doesn’t have to blog is not what I had in mind for payback. He thought it might be interesting to get the view from a “non-fan“. Whatever. I wouldn’t say that I’m a non-fan. Let’s just call me a very casual fan.

I first met George in college, when we were both freshman at UT (Tennessee) and we dated off and on for about a year. I had heard of the Indy 500, but never paid any attention to it until May of that year, when George started talking about it. I remember how excited he was when A.J. Foyt won. I never told him I had never heard of A.J. Foyt.

George and I went different ways after our sophomore year (translation: we broke up). We both ended up graduating from UT, but completely lost touch with each other. Some 25 years later, we re-connected. I’ve gotta say that I’ve never come across anybody that has changed less than George in that length of time. You figure out if that’s a compliment or a jab.

But I don’t want to talk about George and feed his ego. I want to talk about the things that I like about going to the track, because they are far different than what he looks for. He could sit for hours in the stands and be content to watch cars go by. BORING!

Me, I like the people. Not the people in the garage, mind you. No…the people in the stands and parking lots. The people you see while sitting in traffic. At Indy, we had a whole carload of them in front of us. They were a bunch of fun young guys who were already drinking at 5:30 in the morning. While we were waiting in line, I got out to go talk to them. George would have never done that. But we talked, found out they weren’t the scum George said they were and we ended up having fun with them. I told them about Oilpressure and they even convinced George to get into a picture I took, so long as he would post it up there, which he did (I was surprised).

At qualifying, I was left to entertain myself for hours while he worked (code speak: socialized!) in the media center. I enjoy people-watching, but not for hours on-end. I did have a bronze badge, but what was I to do in the garage area without him? He’s the one that knew all of the lesser-known drivers. Not me. But I took pictures and ended up talking to several interesting people that George never would have approached on his own. He likes throwing out his (strong) opinions of things he knows about and sometimes things he THINKS he knows about (Oh! Did I just say that?). I like talking to people about things I DON’T know about.

But what Indy means to me is much more personal and probably something that George can’t fully understand, even though he was a single parent of two. My oldest son, Eric and I went to Indy for the first time with George and his daughter, in 2004. Eric knew nothing about it beforehand, but he knew it was a big event. At the time, I didn’t think he had much fun because he seemed bored. It rained, then stopped, then rained again and they called the race before it was finished. Buddy Rice was the winner (I had to ask George about that), but Eric became a fan of Tony Kanaan that day. On the way back, he began picking George’s brain (which doesn’t take much-ha!) about Indy. You guessed it. George told him more than he needed to know. It’s a wonder he didn’t fall asleep. But Eric began following Kanaan through every race that season and Kanaan won the championship (I knew that).

Since then, Eric has become a HUGE Indy car fan. We bought every Kanaan car and every AGR car from those days and every one has been autographed. The last one we got was from Bryan Herta when Eric tracked him down at a Barber test last year. Kanaan is still Eric’s favorite driver; to the point that if Kanaan crashes in the race, Eric would just as soon leave.

I would be lying if I said I would still be a fan if it weren’t for my son. Teenage boys and their moms don’t get too many things that they can bond together with. George is always eager to try and sway young fans into Indy Car racing, so he has helped to keep Eric interested.

Over the years, Eric has grown up. There have been the normal times when you want to strangle your teenage son but throughout it all, there was always Indy. That was the one constant during those difficult teenage years, when we could put the tough times of the past year behind us and enjoy the moment. I always hear George go on and on about his childhood years spent going to Indy. He glows and speaks in an almost reverent tone whenever he does. Now, Eric can do the same.

Eric’s now in college and we just went to our seventh Indy 500 together. We used to bring some of his buddies with us, but we brought his girlfriend, Devin, with us this year. She had NO idea what to expect, but does anyone? Can anyone really say they knew what to expect when they went to Indy for the first time? I know I didn’t and neither did Devin. George liked having her along because she asked him all the right questions and it gave him a chance to play Donald Davidson. Besides, he was getting tired of trying to turn some of Eric’s friends into fans. They were just there to have fun and weren’t really interested in the race. George didn’t understand that.

So if I have to say what Indy and Indy car racing means most to me, it would be that it is the one thing that I can share with my son. He gets it with Indy. He’s still not into the history, but what kid is? He’s too young to even know who Gomer Pyle is, but he understands how sacred Jim Nabors is at Indy. It’s one of the few weekends a year that I’m not just a mom to Eric, but I’m also his friend. All parental tension goes out the window when we get to Indy every year.

Have I rambled too much? I don’t really care since George is the one that asked me to do this. I don‘t know if he‘ll ask me back. If he does, next time I’ll post some pictures of us in college. That way, I know he’ll never have me do this again. Thanks for reading.


7 Responses to “IndyCar Racing From A Mom’s Perspective”

  1. Jack in NC Says:

    Nice column, Susan. I’ve written a few articles about MY passion (flying homebuilt airplanes) and a couple of them have been his/her perspective articles with my wife, Karen, adding her views. it is always interesting to see things from another viewpoint.

    I remember taking my daughter to the 500 in 2006 and being dismayed that she didn’t “get it”. It was so hot that year she spent the entire race under the bleachers trying to stay out of the sun. She missed the final lap where Sam Hornish passed Marco Andretti for the victory. She enjoys people watching, too, but what view of people do you get from under the grandstand?

    Thanks for the perspective. Maybe George should let you write columns more often.

  2. Good job Susan. Now explain to George that a more suitable payback might be dinner or a spa gift certificate. I think maybe we just learned more about George than you even intended, which is hilarious.

    I’m sure he’s nervous as hell from this slight deviation from the norm. And I’m also sure he’s already working on Monday’s article which will either be Front End Suspensions at Indy–The Pre-War Years or A Fifty-Cent Ball-Bearing–Human Heartbreak and Mechanical Failure.

    Seriously–nice story about Eric. Maybe he’s the next guest blogger–sometime in 2018 when George decides to let go of the reins again.

    • Sadly if my son guest blogged it would look something like this:
      Hve u evr bn 2 Indy? I cn c u hav fn @ th rce.

  3. Susan- I like how Redd described this as “slight deviation from the norm;” that hit the nail on the head! And you know, I liked this slight deviation. A little fresh air never hurt anything. Well, okay, maybe someone with really bad allergies, but you get the idea.

    When you described what Indy racing meant to you in that last paragraph, I instantly related. Racing has been that thing my dad and I watch together since I was a little kid. Over the years (I’m in college now), it’s remained one of the constants in our lives.

    George- Thanks for handing over the keys for a day. You’ll find that almost everything is still in order. I say almost everything because putting everything back in its place wouldn’t be any fun. Ha.

  4. More Susan + less George = FANTASTIC PROGRESS!!!!

    (Nicely done here, Mrs. Oilpressure.)

  5. Great guest post, Susan! You’ll have to wrestle the keys to the site away from George more often! Uh, not that I want George to post less. No, sir. Not what I’m getting at.

  6. Susan- I like how Redd described this as “slight deviation from the norm;” that hit the nail on the head! And you know, I liked this slight deviation. A little fresh air never hurt anything. Well, okay, maybe someone with really bad allergies, but you get the idea.

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