Welcome To Another Month Of May

Today is May 1st. It’s special for many reasons. First of all, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge that it was twenty years ago today that we lost Ayrton Senna at Imola. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I followed Formula One much more closely in those days than I do now. I had set the alarm to go off so I could watch the race that Sunday morning. For whatever reason, it failed to go off and I overslept. I rolled over in bed, grabbed the remote and turned on the race. The crash had already happened.

Most of what we viewers on ESPN got were aerial shots of the accident scene. It’s never a good sign when replays are not shown. As it turned out – there weren’t many camera angles available, but we didn’t know that at the time. Bob Varsha and Derek Daly had the call, and you could tell in their voices that they feared (or already knew) the worst.

Senna and Nigel Mansell were my two favorite F1 drivers from that time. I liked Mansell because he was a likeable prima-donna, but he was in his second year of racing in CART at that point. Senna didn’t have Mansell’s wit, but he could drive circles around Mansell – especially in the rain.

Fans of Sir Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio or Michael Schumacher may argue with me, but I’ve always considered Ayrton Senna to be the greatest Formula One driver to ever live. It’s hard to compare disciplines, especially since Senna never drove in the US; but one could make the argument that he was better than Mario Andretti or AJ Foyt. He was that good.

On a happier note, today marks the official beginning of the Month of May. For the first several years after I started going to the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 – this day marked the official opening of the track for practice. The energy crisis of the early seventies made IMS officials lop off the first week of practice in 1974, and they never got it back. Still, there is something magical about turning the calendar page over to May. We know that our time has finally come.

Finally, this is a special day for this site. It was five years ago today that I stepped into the blogosphere and very reluctantly started Oilpressure.com. I say reluctantly rather emphatically, because I had no interest in doing it. But my college roommate and my oldest brother both encouraged me (rather relentlessly) separately. I didn’t even know what a blog was, but my former roommate set it up and just told me to start typing. So you have him to thank for the white-on-black type. I wrote a couple of posts and was amazed that people started reading. The thing suddenly seemed to take off.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would lead to what it has. In the past five years, I’ve gotten to do things I never thought possible.  So as not to sound like I’m gloating, I won’t list them here. But if I had to name what is the most significant thing I’ve experienced through this site, aside from getting married at IMS in 2012 – it’s the people I’ve met. I’m not talking about the racing personalities I’ve met over the past five years. Instead, I’m talking about the close friendships and relationships that have been formed strictly because of this site.

There are so many of you that I’ve come to know. If I list them here, I’ll forget someone. Many readers have stopped me at race tracks to say "Hi". Some have ultimately become good friends and there are a certain few that will probably remain lifelong friends. I have received wedding gifts and birthday gifts from readers I’ve never met before. That still amazes and humbles me. I’ve also met several of my fellow bloggers that I maintain close contact with – sometimes over things other than racing.

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers come and go. Pressdog is still with us, but now focuses more on NASCAR than IndyCar. Some of the more notable casualties we’ve seen in the blogosphere – I’ve come to know quite well. Roy Hobbson, Monica Hilton, The Speedgeek and JP IndyCar come to mind. Most recently, we’ve lost Zachary Houghton at IndyCar Advocate – creating a huge void in the blogosphere. I swapped many an e-mail with Jeff Iannucci at My Name is IRL, but sadly – we never met. The same goes for Tony Johns with Pop-Off Valve.

There are still some excellent bloggers out there – much better than me. Some, I feel like I know quite well, others I’ve met only once in the last year and there are others I’ve yet to meet. Being around longer than most bloggers doesn’t make me any better than other IndyCar bloggers. It just makes me old and possibly foolish for not knowing when to stop.

I will stop one of these days, but I’m not sure when. Originally, I told myself I would stop after the 2011 Centennial race. Then I thought I’d hang around to see the DW12 run. My next milestone to stick around for is the One Hundredth Running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016, but that’s two years from now. Who knows what will happen between now and then?

But for now, I feel very blessed and honored that you have stuck with me and loyally read these posts (or blogs or columns, or whatever you want to call them) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s how I’ll celebrate this five-year milestone – by being grateful.

Speaking of posting three times a week…for the past five Mays, I’ve been pretty diligent about posting daily during the Month of May. I said it may not happen last year, but I did it anyway. This year, I can almost assure you that I will not have something up here on a daily basis in May. As luck would have it, I have two major events at my day job this month that will require an extra amount of time and energy on my part over two consecutive weeks. So my extra posts will be sporadic, but I’ll at least maintain the normal three times a week schedule. Just check back often. You never know what might show up here.

That being said, I am going to take next Monday May 5 off from here. After traveling to Barber last weekend and many, many posts in the past week, this coming weekend will be my only weekend home before three straight weekends at Indianapolis. I need a short break. But I’ll be here tomorrow and I’ll be back Wednesday May 7 before heading to the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Thanks again for your loyalty and putting up with some of my rants and ramblings over the years. I look forward to more of the same.

George Phillips


11 Responses to “Welcome To Another Month Of May”

  1. Happy anniversary George. I have enjoyed reading your posts and hope you will continue with this for some time to come.
    Enjoy it and the associations and experiences it has, and will bring you. In time you will want to move on, and you will know when that time comes.
    From 1967 through the early ’90s, I lived for the Month of May. Finally, and somewhat ironically, by 1995 I had enough.
    I covered the race that year because I had committed to doing it, then turned my back for the next five years. I didn’t watch or listen to another Indy 500 until 2000.
    As some drivers have done, I came out of retirement for three more years, 2001-3, mostly to see if I still had the photo skills and reflexes I had had. I did. With nothing more to prove to myself, and feeling there was nothing more to do, I quit racing photography for good.
    Now IndyCar racing is the only sport I follow seriously. I am looking forward to watching the two races at IMS on TV from Texas, and getting additional information from you and other internet sources.
    I may decide to go to a race in Texas.
    As you know, I do have a special interest this year in keeping track of the #98 car.
    Keep up the good work for as long as you want to then enjoy the rest of life.

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    My heartfelt thanks George for the work that you have put into this column over the years. I think it is accurate to say that I begin each tuesday and thursday with a bit less anticipation than the rest of the week.

    It is very encouraging to read all the positive comments from the drivers about the new infield track layout. I was one of the many sceptical folks who thought an IndyCar race there would just be a follow the leader event.

    Last night on either Letterman or Fallon’s show, I forget which, there was a very nice Verizon commercial that focused on the Verizon IndyCar sponsorship. That was also very encouraging.

    I would also like to thank Susan for her contributions to this site. I note that you are always very careful to list your marriage at the track as one of your favorite times there, as you should. As we all know, when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

    I have to take a break from being at the race this year, but I hope to see you there in 2016.

  3. I am going to my first 500 this year. This is happening in large part because of George and Oilpressure. Thank you.

  4. Ryan Johnson Says:

    George, thank you for touching on my comment yesterday regarding Stefan Wilson. After I finished reading your post today I scrolled down to your archives from May of 2009 and found your very first post… It was a great read and then I scrolled down to the comments section… Most of the names of those who commented I did not recognize. However, I have always wanted to meet up with you and IMS will probably be the location unless you make it up to the Milwaukee Mile one of these days (as I know is your goal)! I’ll be on the lookout for you during the Grand Prix weekend and qualifications weekend. Not sure where your seat is for the Grand Prix race but I purchased a seat in T7 and after watching the in-car camera video last night I am very excited for what we have in store for us. Enjoy your day and certainly the best month of the year.

  5. I think Indycar & IMS leadership deserves much credit for the reboot on the infield track and the invention of the new “Month Of May.” There were lots of naysayers (and we don’t yet know how successful it will be) but the whole idea of a road race & the Big Race all in one month seems like a great idea to me–financially and geographically and marketing-wise. The future success and growth of Indycar all depends on the success of the 500 and now the Wrong Way Race, so I’m hoping their gamble pays off.

    Just keep writing, George. Because I look forward to reading on M, W & F. And otherwise you’d just bore Susan to death with all your Indycar ramblings anyway.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    Thank you George for all of the time and effort you have put into this site over the past 5 years. I really hope you enjoy it as much as your readers do. I look forward to your next 5 years, 5 months, or 5 days. As long as you keep this place going, Oilpressure will continue to be my first online stop for Indycar information and discussion.

  7. I, too, think that Senna was the best ever in F1, however, I am still of the thought that AJ was the best of them all. I am not sure that Senna would be able to put a dirt car on the 1965 Milwaukee pole when his speedway car was not available.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      I was at that 1965 Milwaukee Mile race that you refer to. I will never forget the sight of A.J. sitting upright on the pole in that dirt track car followed by 21 rear engine cars. There were many great drivers in the lineup that day. There is a short segment on YouTube about that event with commentary by A.J. Classic stuff and truly the end of an era.

  8. Ballyhoo Says:

    You and Susan are our eyes and ears this month. I truly enjoy reading your commentary and your shared photos. Someday I will attend!!

    RIP Ayrton and Roland. Can’t believe it has been 20 years. SkySports has a documentary up on You Tube with Damon Hill and David Brabham http://youtu.be/EFUZuMBPq9o

  9. Many thanks to you, George, for all that you do with this site. Having a place to talk about some of the more thoughtful and sometimes, shall we say, “items of a more nostalgic nature” has been a huge part of what’s kept me a fan of IndyCar over the last 5 years. Here’s to a bunch more years of blogging (however many you deem desirable) and a bunch more trackside meetups…and more than a few more cheap Chinese lunches in the years to come.

  10. Brian McKay Says:

    Thank you, George, for creating and sustaining this blog!
    You (as far as blogging is concerned) are AWESOME!
    I was glad to see you again at Barber Motorsports Park. Some year I’ll see you smiling broadly at I.M.S.

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