What I Want For Christmas
If you thrive on news from the IZOD IndyCar Series, December is usually a very dry month for you. There is normally very little going on this time of year. That is not the case this December. Yesterday was a day full of news. The forty-nine page report on Dan Wheldon’s fatal crash was released on Thursday. Although it went into great detail, it didn’t really tell us much that we didn’t already know.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing also announced they were moving onto Main Street in the town of Speedway. I guess that’s exciting because it shows another sign that SFHR is on the upswing. Lastly, fifteen of the new cars were ready for pickup at the new Dallara factory located in Speedway. While I’m sure the teams were excited to get their hands on the new chassis, we fans don’t really have too much reason to get overly excited just yet. It’s sort of like watching someone open up a Christmas gift that someone else gave them – you act happy for them, but deep down you couldn’t care less.
With that in mind, I thought I’d get into the Christmas spirit and let other bloggers do a great job of analyzing these latest developments. Today, I’d rather focus on something much more important – what I want for Christmas. I’m far too selfish and superficial to ever wish for something like world peace or helping the homeless. This wish is based purely on something I’ve wanted for a long time.
A couple of weeks ago, KV Racing put some of their 2003-11 Dallaras up for sale on ebay. You can buy three for $135,000 or one for only $50,000. Many of the IndyCar bloggers have already pontificated how much they want one, so I realize I’m a little late to the party on this. Their reasons range from wanting to rent out a track and try running at near full-speed, to painting one up as a show-car and rent it out. My reasons are not near as grandiose.
About twenty years ago, Racer magazine was making its debut and I was right in the midst of a slightly bizarre ten-year marriage. My wife put up with my passion for racing as she pretended to enjoy going to the Indianapolis 500. She was thrilled to see Regis ride by on a golf cart at the 1992 500, but thought I was nuts when I was excited to see AJ Foyt race in what turned out to be his last race.
Why did I mention Racer magazine? Because I had just begun subscribing to the new publication, and it was the first time I had seen ads for vintage Indy cars from the mid to late eighties, for next to nothing. Although I wasn’t ever really serious, I would occasionally remark that I wanted to take out a loan and buy one. The reaction was predictable. Mass hysteria would suddenly overcome the Phillips household, as if the presence of two toddlers hadn’t already made that happen.
What on earth would I do with it, she would ask. I didn’t really have a good answer for her. I would have been happy just sitting in it for hours on end and letting my mind drift to that day when I would certainly convince a willing owner that I could drive one of these things and win, but I knew that answer wouldn’t fly.
I suggested we could let both of our cars sit outside, while we converted our garage into a one-exhibit racing museum. No good? Well, how about installing a passenger car engine and using it as a trainer for our young son, who would surely inherit my love of the sport and become the next big star a couple of decades later. None of these suggestions worked. I was never seriously considering it. It was fun to think about, but it turned out to be even more fun to bring it up periodically just to watch the explosion. I can’t imagine why I’ve been divorced now for over fifteen years.
Fast-forward twenty years. The ex moved on to bigger bank accounts, while I single-handedly raised said toddlers to adulthood. The young son who was the certain prodigy is about as interested in IndyCar racing as I am in stamp collecting. But some things haven’t changed. I’m still just as passionate about IndyCar as I was then – if not more. I also still fantasize about having my own IndyCar at home, if for nothing other than a unique conversation piece.
I’ve written many times about one of the biggest highlights of my life – when I drove the one-seater for three laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October of 2008, which was a fiftieth birthday gift from my two brothers. Believe it or not, one of the most memorable parts was the few minutes after they strapped me in. I had to wait until the car before me got off the track before I could go. In that time, my mind went to a thousand different places – but all having to do with racing.
It was one of the most surreal times of my life. There I was, wearing a firesuit and helmet; strapped firmly into an IndyCar sitting at the head of pit row, while staring at those famous stands overlooking Turn One. All the famous names that I’d followed all my life had driven this path. Now, I was about to. I don’t know how long I sat there. It seemed like both hours and nanoseconds at the same time. Of course, when I took off things really got crazy – but that’s another story for another post.
Different people have different ways to escape and gather their thoughts. My father found refuge at their lake house. One of my brothers finds his while flying his homebuilt airplane. My ex found her inner sanctum to be the mall (if armed with a credit card). Others simply put on headphones and chill to their iPod. Call me a little goofy, but I think I could solve the problems of the world simply by crawling inside an IndyCar tucked away in my basement and melting my troubles away.
One of the answers to my mid-life crisis is driving a Mazda Miata that I bought years ago as a second car. I can be having the worst day ever, but when I take a few turns at speed in that car – my worries are a million miles away. I have no real desire to get or keep an IndyCar in running order. I would just like to have it to…well, just have it.
So if anyone has been fretting over what they can get me, they can go here and purchase one of the two Dallara chassis that KV Racing is selling, or at least read Marshall Pruett’s article about it here. But if you find out it was the one driven by EJ Viso, I think I’ll pass. It’s probably damaged goods.