Another Year Of Racing Vacations

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By Susan Phillips

Once the blue envelope came with our Indy 500 tickets in it, there has been a sense in our household that our racing season was about to start up. I’m not talking about the season-opener in St. Pete over three weeks ago. I’m talking about when George and I travel to the actual races.

The schedule shows that three races will have already taken place by the time the series goes to Barber, but that is always the first race for us to attend since it is only three hours from our house.

We love going to Barber and we’ve never missed a single IndyCar race there since they started racing there in 2010. This sounds crazy to some, but in a lot of ways I like going to Barber better than going to Indy. Things are so much more relaxed at Barber. The temperature is usually perfect, the scenery there is spectacular and it just has a much more laid back feel to it. Drivers are not near as uptight at Barber as they are in May. There is just so much more on the line at Indy that you can feel the tension in the air all through the month of May.

Barber is where we get to meet up with many of our racing friends for the first time each year. We met some of our closest racing friends there about six years ago, whose company was one of the sponsors. Their company is no longer involved, but our friendship with them is still strong.

This year, we’ll be meeting a longtime Facebook friend at Barber for the first time. It’s weird how you develop friendships on Facebook without ever meeting them in person. Our friend Lynn and her husband are going to Barber for the first time. We all seem to have the same sense of humor and are all race fans. We’re looking forward to finally getting together with them at the track.

But there will be some tension with some of our racing friends this year. The election has caused some rifts among some of the people that we considered friends. I don’t anticipate seeing many of them at Barber, but Indy is another story. A few people blocked me on Facebook the day after the election and unfriended George – even though he NEVER posts anything political on social media. He makes sure his timeline consists of nothing but race cars, dog pictures, a few family photos and an occasional rant about the Titans or Vols. Most of my posts are not political, but I’ll admit I’m a little more vocal about politics than George. But they are tame and usually only a response to some rant from someone else.

Yet these people have chosen to judge us strictly because we don’t share their political views. I don’t understand people who can’t agree to disagree and maintain their underlying friendship. I guess we weren’t really friends, after all. But it will make for some awkward moments when we come across them at the race track. I’ve already made up my mind to be cordial and act as if nothing has happened. If they follow suit, that’ll be great. We can talk about racing or anything else. But if they turn a cold shoulder to us and bring up our political differences as a reason we can’t be friends, I hope I’m big enough to simply walk away, but I can’t promise that.

Every year we say this, but we are about to start our most ambitious racing season ever. We will go to Barber, then the three weekends in Indy. After about a month’s break, we are headed back to Wisconsin to go to Road America. We both absolutely loved that track and the entire area. We said at the time that we wanted to go back this year and we haven’t wavered. I don’t know that we can afford to go every year, but we did not get our fill last year.

George and our friend Paul Dalbey are talking about doing another guy’s trip to Pocono, just as they did last year. I’m not big on extra-long trips in a car and that’s a long one. If I ever make it to Pocono, it’ll be by plane. Just a few days after George gets back from Pocono, we’ll be heading to St. Louis for the Saturday night race at Gateway. Neither of us have been to Gateway so that’ll be a new experience for us.

I thought that was it for us, but just in the last few days I’ve heard George making comments about going to Iowa in July. If he does that he’s going to be on his own. I’ve already listed eight vacation days I’m taking for races this year. That leaves me with just a few left for the rest of the year.

I love racing. Not as much as George does and probably for different reasons, but I really like going to the tracks. George would be happy anywhere so long as there was an IndyCar race being held there. I like going for the people, whether to see old friends or to meet new ones. That’s why I’m a little nervous about seeing many of our racing friends for the first time since the election. I’m not sure what I’m walking into and I’m dreading the awkwardness that I feel like is coming.

With that said, I hope to use my remaining days to go to the beach. It will be five years ago this May when George and I got married. For our honeymoon, we spent an entire week at the beach without a care in the world. Little did I know then that that would be our last non-racing vacation. It’s been five years. I ask you to urge George to take me to the beach sometime this summer on a non-racing weekend. I go to races for him, can’t he go to the beach in Florida just once for me? I’ll let you know how this goes over.

See you at a race track near you (and us) soon.

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14 Responses to “Another Year Of Racing Vacations”

  1. I’m glad you enjoy attending the races with George. My husband has never joined me and the boys on a race weekend.
    Five years is a long time with only Racing vacations which are quite busy and not really vacations. My trips with my boys to the races are fun but exhausting. A trip to the beach is not too much to ask.

  2. madtad1 Says:

    I think you know some people in Florida that are near beaches! 😄

  3. Yannick Says:

    That is a pretty impressive schedule which the two of you are looking forward to this year. I know I will enjoy your coverage of the on-track and off-track events at each of these IndyCar races again.

    From my distinctly European perspective, I feel somewhat bewildered by how aggressive political campaigning and marketing must have gotten in your part of the world to be able to drive friends and acquaintances apart from each other. Over the last 10 or 15 years, I have observed a gradual increase in the harshness of political campaigning from most sides of the table, and it seems all parties have adapted the nasty behaviour and language of spammers, even those that one wants to vote for. With trends usually spreading from the US to Europe in about 5 years time, I can only hope that friends and acquaintances over here can keep the so-called Godwin’s Law (which signals an online discussion thread has gone awry) out of offline communication for much, much longer than they were able to in your part of the world.

  4. Mike Silver Says:

    Looking forward to seeing you at Barber. Sounds like y o ur schedule is expanding. George, take Susan to a beach. There’s one near me in Florida. You guys are welcome any time.

  5. Ron Ford Says:

    While I have not yet met George in person, just judging by what he writes here I imagine he will think the Lake Michigan beach in Sheboygan will suffice for beach time. I could have my niece in Florida send you a gift box of sand with a few sea shells.

  6. S0CSeven Says:

    George, good wives are REALLY hard to come by.
    I’d try the Algarve or Bali. Drink adult beverages and don’t ever mention cars …….. and you’ll be much happier for it.

  7. billytheskink Says:

    I voted for all three options. You’ve certainly earned your beach vacation but I couldn’t pass up option 2 because there is no vacation I enjoy more than a racing vacation. I am happy to have already taken one this year have another one coming up next week, both for World of Outlaws sprint car races.

    The Indycar vacations start in June (Texas) and hopefully continue in August (see y’all at Gateway). I’ll probably work another one or two racing vacations in there at TMS and/or COTA.

  8. Ron Ford Says:

    George, I’m thinkin’ that one of those “One Take Only” deals filmed on a Florida beach featuring you and Susan would give a serious boost to your ratings. Don’t pack your Speedo. No offense.

  9. tonelok Says:

    Politics. The idea that a weekend at an IndyCar event can be utterly ruined because of a political election or people’s political beliefs is just a tragedy. How United States politics and IndyCar racing can be mentioned in the same sentence is just wrong. After reading Susan’s article it occurred to me that the only party responsible for basically defriending people, cutting them off and not associating with them anymore typically is characteristic of one particular side of the aisle. What is that politically correct enough ? My thoughts are like yours Susan if someone defriended me because of politics they were not my friend in the first place . You have been a good sport going to all these INDYCAR events with George. There are people that will be lucky if their wives even attended one event with them a year. I would consider George a lucky guy.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      IMS policy of keeping the Indy500 pace car driver choice Doofus free has insured that U.S. politics and IndyCar racing will not be mentioned in the same sentence.

  10. Yes I think a 5th anniversary should be Sand & Surf. hope to see you at the Long Beach Grand Prix in an upcoming year.

    Who cares who voted for whom!! This is why I enjoy this group so much. We talked racing and that’s how it should be.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Hi there California Girl. Well, the hours are ticking away. Just a few more days. Here’s wishing you good weather, good racing, and good times at Long Beach. I am going to listen to some Beach Boys tunes while watching the race.

      • Sounds like a good soundtrack for Sunday. I think Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” will be the song of the day for Qualifying on Saturday though.

  11. You guys have a really great relationship, I enjoy trips with my wife, even after 15 years together we can talk the whole time. She isn’t so much into racing but she would go with me just for the fun time together.

    I understand the politics thing, I lost some friends also, I am guarded with my political opinions and found it funny that some stereotyped me as voting one way and dropped me from their life, when the whole time I voted the same way they did!

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