My Personal Two-Seater Ride

SScruggs
By Susan Phillips

I must admit, at this point in the Month of May, I am pretty fried. The month of May is also one of the busiest months for my day job. It is graduation and “the new June” for weddings. I spent the weekdays writing “Congratulations” and “Class of 2015” on countless cakes in my territory, which includes 104 stores for a major retail chain. I went out to work in my stores, and then packed up to head 300 miles to Indianapolis every weekend of the month. Yesterday I was unsure if I could even walk around the track, much less carry on coherent conversation. George was in his element, and as the month wore on, I was happy to let him take the driver’s seat and just go along for the ride. It has been a great ride.

My first Indianapolis 500 was in 2004. Buddy Rice won and we almost got hit by a tornado. If that wasn’t enough to drive the most casual fan away, we continued to go to the Indy 500 and other races for another 12 years. The beginning years were the “dark days,” when we came up the day before the race and left for Nashville right after the checkered flag dropped. I’m so glad that trend did not continue through the 90-degree heat years. I could not have done it, even though I was just a rider, I always felt obligated to chatter on endlessly to keep the driver awake. You might want to remember that about me should we ever be on a road trip. Maybe that’s why we decided to stay over until Monday.

What memories I have during my 12-year ride in this two-seater with George at the wheel! I’m going to share them with you, so as your eyes glaze over, as mine do about some of the racing factoids that seem to follow George and his hard-core friends and blog followers, please feel free to reminisce about your own experiences on this Legends Day. After all, this is the day to be nostalgic.

I think the memory that stands out the most is our wedding day here at the track in 2012. Preparing for the day was pretty hectic, as with most weddings. I was working at a small design company at the time and I threw my back out heat-sealing about 100 products for a client. Like a fool, I decided to make my own cake—fondant, so it would withstand the 300-mile trip. George was a reluctant helper as he helped me knead the fondant so I could cover our cake. I won’t get into the sculptures he made while he was playing in the fondant. The cake turned out and arrived at IMS unscathed and G-Rated. It was one of the best days of my life, surrounded by a small group of friends and photographed by our good friend, Paul Dalbey. I’ll never know how he got such great shots as the sun descended over the track and was shining directly through the windows of the venue.

01kiss on bricks

02wedding
03a cart after

I think my second most prominent memory was our first race in 2004. It was my son, Eric’s first race also, and it had many rain-delays—I’m surprised that we ever came back. But come back we did. Eric became bitten by the IndyCar bug and has not failed to come to a race since that first one. As the years went on, we brought many of his friends, to their first race. I often wonder if these friends get nostalgic about the time they attended the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. This year, there will be a new buddy, so we will see if he gets bitten by the IndyCar bug. I loved watching his friends kiss the yard of bricks, stand in Victory Lane, and hunt down drivers for autographs. I highly recommend taking your kid(s) with one of their friends. Leave the phones on vibrate for emergencies only or to keep up with the IndyCar app, but no sitting around watching their phone. I guess I was lucky, that social media had not exploded until after my son became a fan. I say bring a friend because on the off-chance they get bored or there are rain-delays, they have someone to hang out with. Who knows, they may get bitten by the IndyCar bug. At the very least, they can commiserate about the time their oh-so-un-hip parent took them to the races.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
04eric and me
05eric brit
06kiss bricks

There are so many people to remember along the way. You know the friends you see during races and after the initial “hello,” it’s like you were never apart during the off-season. I miss the people who no longer attend for one reason or another, the drivers who no longer race in the series (am pretty excited to see Ryan Briscoe get a chance to drive again this year), or the ones who are no longer with us. We have met so many great people—just like one big family.

I’ve spent Mother’s day and our anniversary here. I almost missed our first anniversary and qualifying because of my son’s graduation. It was unusual that year because graduation had always been held during the week. I made it just in time on that night to celebrate our anniversary. I stated to feel guilty, but then I was assured what kid makes plans with their mother the night of their graduation anyway?

A michael grad
A mother's day
10 anniversary

I’d never heard of a tenderloin, now we spend a portion of the Month of May seeking the perfect tenderloin. So far, the ones at the older stands under the track still are the front-runners–none of this new-fangled bacon and jalapeno stuff. But I think that is in keeping with the times, palates have changed, and anything with bacon on it is good, right? There is even a Bacon-fueled car this year along with a piggy golf cart to transport the crew around. I’ve been indoctrinated to the Mug’n’Bun, Long’s Donuts, Dawson’s and the Burger Bash. Last night, we actually made it in time to get a burger and a shake.

tenderloin

We made some new friends at the Burger Bash last night. Bob, a long-time race fan and his wife, Andrea. George and Bob instantly began a prolonged discussion about IndyCar facts and races they had attended, while Andrea and I rolled our eyes and stuck up a conversation about our kids and jobs. We both had fun and enjoyed meeting the couple. The best thing it illustrates to me is that there is a place for everyone around this vast track. So take a chance and bring that child who may be reluctant to come, just make sure you bring their friend as well! The bonding will come if they develop a love for the sport. After all, you’re driving the two-seater, so make it a ride to remember.

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2 Responses to “My Personal Two-Seater Ride”

  1. Ron Ford Says:

    Delightful Susan! A good read. Thank you for sharing your experiences with ol’ whats his name.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    Fantastic read. Thank you Susan.

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