Just Taking It All In

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Just in case anyone was wondering, I did actually make it back home safely from Media Day in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. But in all the years I’ve been making the drive between Indianapolis and Nashville, Tuesday night was the second worse weather I’ve driven through on that route.

The only other time I’ve seen it worse was in 2004, when a tornado skirted the south end of the track immediately after the race. In those days we drove back home immediately after the race. The weather at the track that day was a precursor for what we would get that night. Tornados ripped through portions of southern Indiana, central Kentucky and middle Tennessee – in other words, all along I-65.

Tuesday night was not that bad, but it poured rain with heavy winds all through the night. What is normally a little more than a four-hour drive took me over five and a half hours Tuesday night. But it was worth it – especially since I made it home safely.

I cannot tell you how good it was to be at IMS the other day. Those of you who live in or near the Indianapolis area don’t know how lucky you’ve got it. If I lived near Marion County, I’m afraid I would spend most of my free time at that hallowed ground. But in reality, I would probably take it for granted. People are amazed that I live here and have been to the Grand Ole Opry only once – and that was when Paul Dalbey of More Front Wing came to visit us last August.

Sometimes I’ve thought what it would be like to cover this sport fulltime as a profession. We fans think how great that would be. But I’m not really too sure. I watched some of the media types this past Tuesday. Most of them didn’t seem all giddy and in awe of their surroundings. They were there to do a job. They were at work and they looked like it.

During a lull in the proceedings on Tuesday, I was doing what I catch myself doing a lot when I’m at IMS. I was standing at the large plate glass window of the Media Center and just staring at the track. I suppose I looked very pensive because someone came up and asked if something was wrong. I smiled and replied that I was just taking it all in.

Some people get that and some don’t. I’m fifty-seven years old and am old enough to not get too riled up by many things. But I hope that I never get too old when a trip to IMS means nothing to me. Off and on, I’ve been going to that place since I was six. Yet, turning into the tunnel at the south end on Tuesday gave me the same goose bumps I get every time I visit there.

I savored every moment I could at IMS on Tuesday. I knew it would be over three months before I would get back for the Grand Prix weekend in May and I wanted to make the most of it. Sometimes, I found myself just sitting back and listening to the press conferences instead of typing or writing feverishly like so many that do this for a living. It was refreshing to watch this unfold just a few feet away from me with that magnificent track just right outside the window. All I could think was that life doesn’t get much better than this.

The day I stop being enamored with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the day that they shovel dirt on me – because I will no longer have a pulse.

On another note – as promised, I have more pictures and a couple of videos below from Tuesday. I took many more videos of drivers answering questions and such, but the sound quality was too poor with so many people talking to different drivers in the background. I did include one with Graham Rahal, where you can make out what he says without too much difficulty. The others were worse, so I left them out. I’ve also included additional photos below from Tuesday, including one of my favorites showing Turn Three at IMS in the magnificent desolation of winter (if you’re a space geek, you’ll notice that intentional nod to Buzz Aldrin) .

I tried to go to the gift shop in the museum, but I was unaware of their winter hours – they closed at 4:00. Therefore, I have nothing to report on the merchandise front.

I was able to stop by Dawson’s on Main in Speedway on my way out of town and have their famous tenderloin. It was delicious as always. Not only is the food great at Dawson’s, but it has some sentimental attachment also. That is where Susan and I took our small wedding party after our IMS wedding in 2012.

After the long hard drive I had and Susan out of town for work, it was good that I had a friendly face to come home to – Maley, who is now seven months old. If you missed it last August, Maley is named for the Jones & Maley Special – the Kurtis roadster that sat on the roof of Safety Auto Glass in Indianapolis until 2012. The last picture below was Maley greeting me on Tuesday night.

Thanks to the IMS and IndyCar staff who obviously worked their tails off to make Tuesday’s Media Day the success that it was – especially Arni Shribhen and Kate Guerra. They always make the lowly bloggers feel as welcome as the top people at ESPN. And a very special thank you to those that follow this site and give thoughtful and insightful comments throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to the 2016 Verizon IndyCar season and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. It got off to a good start this week.

George Phillips

Please Note: We have out of town guests this weekend and then the Super Bowl Sunday night (Go Peyton!), so I will probably not get a chance to write. Therefore, there will be no post here on Mon Feb 8, but I will return on Wed Feb 10. Have a great weekend! – GP

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12 Responses to “Just Taking It All In”

  1. I “get it”, George! My father (a former motorcycle, midget, sprint driver) brought me up listening to the race on radio. And I brought my son up watching the qualifying and the race every year. I know I did my job the first time I brought him to the track for time-trials in 1999, He was 11, and as we waited to cross the street to the main entrance, he said, “Wow! I can’t believe we are really here!”.

    And yes – I get goose bumps every year when Back Home in Indiana is sung! Thanks for your passion about a very special place!

  2. billytheskink Says:

    I wish that everybody covering the series had even a quarter as much passion for the sport as you do, George. Thank you for the coverage.

  3. Dale Christenson Says:

    Thanks for the update. Thinking about your comment about not having a pulse. One year, while at the track, I told my wife that when I die I want to be cremated and thrown into the creek in the 1st turn. That way I will be there for every race. You had a special day at a very special place, and, when you returned that precious pup, Maley was there to greet you. Life is GOOD !!!!

  4. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Honestly, I see that luxury of being able sit back, to take it all in, and as you wish as an immense positive to being a blogger as opposed to ‘working’ the event or place.

    It also allows your readers to feel a more intimate and descriptive review of the happenings rather than churning out the basic quotes and summary and as everyone else.

    ‘Tis a nice chair you have there in Blogger’s Row.

  5. Glad that you enjoyed
    Sorry that the return drive was miserable

  6. agree with all above, your passion for IMS and Indycar makes us all a little more ready for Spring. you do a great job.

    so sorry, but if I could interject just a bit of negativity, just what is Indycar doing right now to create some buzz about the upcoming season? lightning bolts on one car? It just seems like now is the time to be doing whatever to get some word of mouth (or word of internet) or some sort of attention focused on the series. Photos of IMS aside, the whole event sounds and looks like a bit of a snoozer. That’s all you got, Indycar? again, sorry to be a downer but that seems to be a problem. To me, anyway.

    • The last two years, I’ve noticed that the “surge” of news and other activities takes a major upswing in the last 2-3 weeks before St. Pete, since that’s the time that the IndyCar folks can say, “Want to see one of our races? Well, we’re on in just 10 days!” or whatever (since that’s a lot more tantalizing than “Tune in in just 7 weeks!”). We’re still a ways away from that.

  7. George, thanks for the pics and videos your enthusiasm is refreshing and shines through in your blogs. It makes for fun and intriguing reading. I think it should be a prerequisite to be a fan first for sports writers and other press but that would be in an ideal world.

    Last spring my son and I drove to Birmingham for one of the early aero-kit tests at Barber. For me it was one of those anticipated trips., I couldn’t wait to leave. What might be mundane for some was pure joy for me. Being at such a nice road course, hearing IndyCars seeing the new kits in person was right up my alley. I got a picture of my son Nate right in front of Ryan Hunter Rae’s DHL car as it came off the tech line. One thing I noticed paralleled your perception George that for a lot of the people affiliated with teams or the series, its a job. I do think fans in Indianapolis take IMS for granted. I sometimes wonder if they realize what a truly special place it is. At Barber, we walked by the Penske tent and we saw Tim Cindric, Rick Mears, a couple other people that either looked like mechanics or engineers all having lunch and not one person was engaging with one another. I imagine on the inside, like anything else it is a long season. Sometimes, I’m glad to be right where I am on the outside looking in as a fan.

    Maley is pretty darn cute.

    Go Broncos!

  8. Another great Post George! Years ago I was at a swap meet in September. I made it down to the old garages and walked around. (it was circa 1983). Nobody was around….I strolled up and down the aisles….you could feel the ghosts of Indy from years gone by. I get that Indy feeling too, but hated when they razed those historic garages.

  9. After 75 trips around the sun I often find that my primary focus these days is simply to outlive my new eco-friendly light bulbs. So I admire and appreciate the enthusiasm and energy you bring to this site each week. I and the others here share your appreciation for the magic of IMS. Perhaps you would concur with my vision of the pearly gate looking like the 16th street tunnel. This was fun to read. Thank you George.

    As for that little football game coming up: I hope that old age and treachery can beat youth and speed.

  10. Minus the crappy drive home, it sounds like kind of an ideal day. Or, as ideal a day as you can have without actually seeing race cars go around a track…

  11. Frankly, I could never get tired of being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It holds the same aura to me that it held when I saw it as a youngster.

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