Archive for September, 2017

Why The Off-Season Seems So Long For Me

Posted in IndyCar on September 22, 2017 by Oilpressure

By Susan Phillips

No one likes the IndyCar off-season. I get that. But I’ll promise you that no one dislikes it more than me. It’s not that I’ll terribly miss watching races and keeping up with the points race. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to races and watching them on TV. But I have other things in my life to keep me occupied and distracted to where it doesn’t leave a huge hole in my life.

But it’s in my household that the off-season void is felt. Now that there are no more races to focus on; my husband George, who usually writes in this space, has turned his weekend attention to football. That’s not a good thing.

I used to love the fall. It used to be my favorite time of year. The brilliant colors, crisp air and blue skies would always put me in a good mood. I always knew George got too emotionally involved in football games that featured either the Titans or Vols. Before we got married, I would go to his house and watch about a half. If they were winning by a large margin, I’d stick around. If things got tight in the second half, that was my cue to leave. Now that we’ve been married for the past five years, I have no place to go unless I go shopping. The thing is, I’d like to watch the game myself.

This past weekend was just way too intense at our house. The Tennessee Vols lost to Florida on the last play of the game Saturday afternoon. When the Florida player caught that ball for a touchdown with no time remaining, the screaming that emanated from his chair was loud enough to wake the dead. Our (my) dog, Pippa, ran out the room in fright. And the words that came out of his mouth were vile enough to offend anyone.

Fortunately, he had set the DVR to record the qualifying for Sonoma. After about twenty minutes of sulking, he turned qualifying on and that proved to be the tonic he needed to get his mind right. On Sunday, the Titans won big so he was relaxed and happy. Then we watched the race at Sonoma that night and got to see Nashville’s own, Josef Newgarden win the championship. He is such a good guy and always seems happy to see us at races. George talks racing with him, but he and I talk high-school hockey, since I was the hockey mom for our team and we always played his school twice a year. We both know a lot of the same people.

But getting back to George and his two sports, I don’t get it. Between the two sports, I’d say he is a bigger IndyCar fan than he is a football fan. But when he watches a race, he never gets mad no matter the outcome. There are drivers he likes better than others, but he never gets mad or upset when his drivers crash or don’t win. He is much more relaxed, whether he’s watching a race in person or on television. Although he is intently watching, he is never too busy to answer any question I have about the race. But if he’s watching a Vols or Titans game, I don’t dare even speak.

Labor Day night, Tennessee was playing Georgia Tech. Midway through the third quarter I couldn’t take it anymore. He sat in that chair complaining about Coach Butch Jones until he was blue in the face. He was asking questions to seemingly no one about the play-calling. It was all too much. He seemed shocked when I told him I was going to bed. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. He thought I was talking about the game. It was him.

How can he enjoy that? Sometimes I wonder if he’s insane. I think he just enjoys the complaining. When his teams are winning, he doesn’t seem excited. He only gets animated when they are losing. He seems more patient with the Titans because he likes their coach. He never liked Vols coach Butch Jones, and I think he watches just to complain about him. George loved Coach Philip Fulmer and has been jaded about the program ever since they fired him. But that’s been almost ten years ago. He either needs to let it go or just quit watching their games. No good can come out of this.

This is why I hate to see the IndyCar off-season come. The difference in his attitude when he is immersed in racing is night and day. Yes, he goes off on a few tangents he feels strongly about but he is much more pleasant to be around when there is IndyCar racing going on.

And during the month of May, it’s almost therapeutic to be at IMS with him. He walks much faster than I do and he tries to cram a lot into each weekend we are at the track, but it’s his happy place. It’s where he is the most serene that I’ll see him all year.

I enjoy going to Tennessee games in Knoxville. It’s where we first met over forty years ago. We have great memories there and we always go visit our old dorm (Clement Hall) as well as the few remaining bars where we used to hang out. We went to homecoming last year and had a blast because the Vols won 55-0. He couldn’t complain. But a few weeks later we went to the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game in Nashville, where the Vols got stomped. He was in a horrible mood for the rest of the night.

What I can’t figure out is why he gets so much more emotionally invested in football, when I know he likes IndyCar racing better…and I mean a lot better. In his office at work, there is a lone UT mini-football helmet and no Titans artifacts to be found. On his office bookshelf, there are very few books. But you will find a Pippa Mann Susan G. Komen car, a Tony Kanaan 7-Eleven car, an Helio Pennzoil car, an Al Unser, Jr. Valvoline car, the Jim Clark winning Lotus that I got him for Christmas two years ago and the Marmon Wasp that I bought for him three years ago. There is also an AJ Foyt bobble-head and a Tom Carnegie bobble-head to go along with a framed picture that I got him of the Jones & Maley Special, which our (his) dog Maley is named after. All of that goes with the four framed IndyCar prints hanging from his office wall. It’s pretty obvious what sport he loves the most. His office is an IndyCar shrine.


George owns very few Titans and Vols shirts. It’s all IndyCar and Indy 500 apparel. So why does he burn up all of his emotions on what I consider his second favorite sport? It boggles the mind.

Football season will last through January and into the month of February. But it seems right after Christmas, his mindset shifts back to IndyCar racing. Let’s hope so. I don’t think I can take too many days like last Saturday. Now you see what I mean when I say the IndyCar off-season is longer for me than most people. Next season can’t get here soon enough. Is it May yet?


A Rough Start To The Offseason

Posted in IndyCar on September 20, 2017 by Oilpressure

The season is over and the championship has been decided. Is there a better (or worse) way to kick off the offseason than to have another episode of One Take Only? For those that don’t come here that often, One Take Only is the poor excuse for the videoblog of My friend John McLallen and I sit down with no script or outline. We don’t rehearse (as you can tell). We just start the camera and start talking about anything that has to do with IndyCar. We do everything in one take, hence the name. What you see is uncut and unedited. Some have likened it to two old friends sitting in a sports bar having an informal conversation. Others have compared it to hearing one’s nails on a chalkboard.

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Random Thoughts On Sonoma

Posted in IndyCar on September 18, 2017 by Oilpressure

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season is now complete and there is a brand new champion this morning. Nashville’s Josef Newgarden completed the road from a confident rookie driving for Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman in 2012, to a race winner for the first time at Barber in 2015, while driving for the CFH Racing – the result of a merger between Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher’s team; all the way to winning four races and the championship in his very first year driving for Roger Penske.

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Sonoma Preview

Posted in IndyCar on September 15, 2017 by Oilpressure

Since I already revealed that I believe Scott Dixon will win the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship on Wednesday; let’s take a look at this weekend’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

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Who Will Win The IndyCar Championship?

Posted in IndyCar on September 13, 2017 by Oilpressure

After six months and sixteen races already completed, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship is down to one race. Technically, there are seven drivers still mathematically alive for the championship. But it would take nothing short of a miracle for sixth-place Alexander Rossi or seventh-place Graham Rahal to walk away Sunday holding the Astor Cup.

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Just Where Did The Time Go?

Posted in IndyCar on September 8, 2017 by Oilpressure

There is one indisputable fact that I have learned as I grow older – as I age, each year of my life seems much shorter than the year before. When I was four years-old, it was an absolute eternity from that Christmas to the next one when I was five. When I was six, I attended my first Indianapolis 500 in 1965. My father took his father and brother in 1966, so when May of 1967 rolled around – it had been two years, which represented a quarter of my life at the time. Once again, it seemed like an eternity.

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Is ECR at a Crossroads?

Posted in IndyCar on September 6, 2017 by Oilpressure

During the pre-race telecast for Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, Robin Miller asked Ed Carpenter who would be driving for him next season. Carpenter smiled as he candidly answered “I am”. While it was a quick and clever response, was it really the best answer?

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