Fontana Final Wrap-Up
We finally arrived safely back into the real world from our California odyssey in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. After four hours sleep, it was back to the grind. As I type Tuesday night, I’ll have to admit that we have not watched one minute of the DVR replay. I think by now, we’ve all pretty well dissected Saturday night’s race enough that any “Random Comments” would be stale by this point.
Therefore, I figured I’d just go through my pictures from the past weekend and share some final thoughts on what was a fabulous trip before moving on to other issues involving IndyCar.
One quick note – we were fortunate to get to meet some long-time followers of this site. Mike Silver, who has been posting comments here from practically the beginning, caught up with us on Friday. Mike lives in Indianapolis, but said this was his eighth race to attend this season. It didn’t take long to realize that Mike knew his stuff. We need more fans like him. The person who posts comments under the name “Ballyhoo” sought us out on Saturday, which was very much appreciated. I also enjoyed meeting Josh Farmer in the Media Center. He had the pleasure of watching the last few minutes of Tennessee’s victory over South Carolina with me. It’s always good to meet new friends at the track.
Before heading to LA, I kept hearing that I had to try In-N-Out Burger. “It’s the best burger you’ve ever eaten” is what I continually heard. I was skeptical. After all, what magical thing can you do to ground beef and bread that hasn’t been replicated elsewhere? The night before we left, I threw the question out on Twitter, whether or not I should make my way to In-N-Out. The responses were varied – anything from it’s way overrated or it’s terrible all the way to it’s a religious experience. Obviously, this was something I had to judge for myself. I informed Susan that we must try it.
Within two hours of our touching down on California soil, we were at an In-N-Out. I had to agree with those that said it was overrated. It was OK. In fact, it was slightly better than OK. But that was about it. It was loud, extremely crowded and a very limited menu – hamburger, cheeseburger or a double-double, which was essentially a double cheeseburger. The fries were an anemic white and had no flavor. The two of us got out of there for about $14.00.
I tweeted my lukewarm opinion. You would have thought I had committed treason. At the track over the weekend, no less than three people told me how wrong I was. Surely, I had just had a bad experience. So, on Sunday – we went back. It was slightly better, but I still don’t get why easterners base their west coast visit around trips to In-N-Out. Consider me unimpressed.
I’ll be curious to hear any comments here, regarding this favorite Golden State eatery.
We arrived at Auto Club Speedway early Friday morning. The size of the place is surprising as you drive up. It’s not as long as going down Georgetown Rd, but the swooping grandstands along the main straightaway are very impressive. When we parked inside the track, the first thing you notice is Mt. Baldy that serves as a magnificent backdrop to the backstrech.
Once we got settled, we headed for the pits. There we saw Kevin Lee, who I’ve always called the hardest working person in sports, interviewing AJ Allmendinger.
Of course, I’ve already shared my flag-waving experience on Friday afternoon – when I got to wave the flags during the qualifying run for Helio Castroneves. Here’s a shot of me waiting for Helio’s run, and then the next shot shows me waving the checkered flag as Helio completed his qualifying attempt.
On Saturday afternoon, we wandered the garage area. As usual, there were drivers darting in and out of their respective team trailers; while their crews readied their cars for the Saturday night race. We were able to catch glimpses of both AJ’s (Allmendinger & Foyt) signing autographs and posing for pictures, while we got a good shot of Pippa Mann’s car making it’s way to technical inspection.
Later, it was time to head for the pits as the cars were gridded in rows of three for the race. I really like that IndyCar has decided to run all three legs of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown by starting the race in rows of three. Here we saw Kevin Kalkhoven of KV Racing shielding his eyes from the sun – showing why race officials were justifird in moving the start of the race back by twnety-five minutes.
We also came across Tony Kanaan’s car about the same time they introduced him to the crowd and he was driven around in one of the pace cars.
On the pole position of the rows of three was the car of Will Power, which was also the car that won the race. Here’s a shot looking into the glaring sunlight.
At the head of the grid, was the Astor Challenge trophy, presented to the IndyCar champion. This is a much better looking trophy than the one given in 2010 – the naked guy on a unicycle. This one has the various open-wheel series inscribed at the bottom of the base – including CART, Champ Car, IRL and IndyCar. I’m assuming USAC and AAA are there as well, but I couldn’t swear to it. Just beyong the trophy was the two-seater to be piloted by Mario Andretti, carrying a very lucky fan.
Lastly, I thought I would close this out with a picture of my very fun and lovely wife Susan sitting on the outer pit wall just before the race. Before we met, she knew nothing of racing. Then she decided to embrace this sport simply because I loved it. Somewhere along the way, she developed a love affair with it as well. It makes a race weekend so much more meaningful when you can enjoy it with your spouse or significant other.
It was an unforgettable weekend and a great way to send us off into the long, cold offseason. There is a lot of work to be done. As was noted by Scott Dixon the other night at the banquet – This is the best racing in the world. We just need to get people to watch it. Then, they’ll fall in love with it. Just like Susan did.
Please Note: Although it was a great weekend, it was a tiring one as well – especially on this old man’s body. So I’m going to take a short break. There will be no post here on Friday Oct 25 or Monday Oct 28. I’ll return here on Wednesday Oct 30. Thanks to everyone for following along this past weekend and putting up with some of my self-indulgence.