What A Great Surprise!
This post today is very celebratory, but first and foremost – let’s not forget that it was two years ago today that we lost Dan Wheldon. Please keep the Wheldon family in your thoughts and prayers today.
There have been several perks that have come to me and Susan from doing this website. I get to go to races with media credentials that allow me to roam everywhere that the real journalists get to go. I have gotten to explore some of the most interesting areas of IMS that I previously only dreamed about. But without a doubt, the best thing that has come from writing this site over the years, has been the people I’ve met through this site and the relationships that have developed as a result.
I’ve met several drivers, a few of which even know me enough to speak when they see me at tracks. I’ve gotten to know some of the real journalists that cover this sport. I’ve become good enough friends with some of the other IndyCar bloggers, that we actually discussed things other than racing when we talk. And there have been deep and lasting friendships that have spawned strictly through this site, that otherwise would have never taken place had I not started blogging in May of 2009.
There is the couple in Montana that sent Susan and I a racing-related wedding present last spring, even though we’ve never met. There was also the IndyCar blogger that was in town here in Nashville last month and made sure to let me know so we could get together. There are the many readers that are kind enough to e-mail me about racing, the Titans or anything else they feel like discussing. Then there is the couple we met at Barber one year the morning before the race. The four of us hit it off immediately, and we have been good friends ever since.
Just a few nights ago, they called and asked us to join them at Fontana this weekend as their guests. As you can imagine, it did not take a whole lot of arm-twisting for us to agree. I had to rearrange a few things at work, but by the next day – it was pretty much a done deal.
It’s still hard to imagine that this time last week, we had no clue we would be heading west to California. But we are both going. We leave early Thursday morning and we are staying though Monday afternoon. In that time, we also will be attending the Championship Banquet for the second year in a row. Last year, the banquet was at IMS on a cold December night. This year, it is the night after the race at Universal Studios.
I’ve never been to Fontana, but I’ve watched every CART/IndyCar race that has been held there. I haven’t been to California since 2006 and have not been to Los Angeles since 1972, so yes – I’m excited.
We’ll get in early enough on Thursday morning to be complete tourists and do some sight-seeing. What those sights may be is still to be determined. We’ll be at the track on Friday for practice, qualifying and trackside sight-seeing. We’ll also be there pretty much all day Saturday, but somewhere in there I have to watch the South Carolina-Tennessee football game, which will start at 9:00am local time. The race starts at 5:45 local time, so we’ll have plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere at Auto Club Speedway. The race will end around 9:00 and we’ll have all of Sunday to do whatever, until it is time for the banquet to crown whoever the champion might be – Scott Dixon or Helio Castroneves.
The weather looks perfect – nothing like the scorcher they experienced at last year’s race.
Had I not started this site, we would have never met our friends who are making this trip possible. They prefer to remain nameless and out of the spotlight. That is more their style. But I wanted to publicly thank them for the kindness they have shown us over the last few years. For whatever reason, they took a liking to this site a few years ago and that’s why they wanted to meet me at Barber.
Meeting me is quite underwhelming. Most people are drawn to Susan and they’ll put up with my shallow, self-centered, superficial and surly presence as the price they pay for being around her. I’m thankful that our friends are able to put up with me enough that they asked us both to go. I would have felt left out had Susan gone to Fontana without me.
Anyway, tomorrow we leave on what is certain to be the trip of a lifetime. As I always do when I attend races in person, I’ll be blogging throughout the race weekend. I’ll start Friday morning with the obligatory “Fontana Preview” that few people ever read. But then I’ll be posting throughout the weekend. Check here often starting Friday morning for weekend pictures as well as following me on Twitter (@Oilpressureblog) or Susan (@chiapet58) throughout our trip.
What a great way to wrap up the season! We can’t wait to get there.