Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Letter to Dan Wheldon

Hey, bud...

Wow, WTF, as they say?! You really caught us by surprise, dude. And, man, did you make me look foolish, Sunday. When the news came, "Fuck that!" leaped off my lips as fast as a blink. Then came the tears—and, oh, did they come. One after the next with gobs of sobs thrown in for good measure. Thanks, dude! :]

Kind of embarrassing, really. Of course, just my wife was there (she wasn't in any better shape), but I don't cry. Not out of some dumb responsibility to "be a man," it just doesn't come very easily to me, I guess. It's so rare, in fact, when the tears started flowing, I think I scared myself! LOL.

It's been a melancholy few days, and I haven't been on Twitter since Sunday. If you knew me, you'd know that's way out of character. Not sure why, really, I guess I just feel like I would be capitalizing on what happened, in some way, and it just hasn't felt right. I'll be back at it soon enough, I suppose.

I have to say, I'm kinda pissed, brother! We were supposed to meet, you know?! :) Despite my inclination not to meet my heroes, for fear of shattering my image of them, I guess I always felt like I'd bump into you at a kart track, or somewhere "comfortable"—you in your too-tight fire suit and me in my middle-age drag. I'd actually cast off my shyness, for a moment, and share a quick hello. Maybe you seemed more approachable than the others, I'm not really sure.

Guys like you aren't supposed to die, you know?! :) You had the kids...and Susie. Plus the comeback! We were SO looking forward to that. I just don't get it, man. It's senseless, really. Of course, you're not the first person with everything going for them to die young, but I really just don't understand it. Guess I should stop struggling and just accept it, huh?!

For now, I've been clinging to something Oriol said: "They always take the good ones. The rest, we still have a lot of growing to do." It's something, anyway. Smart man, is the Catalonian!

Hey, BTW, don't worry about Susie and the kids, we'll take good care of them—as if you had any doubts! IndyCar rawks! \m/

Well, I guess I've said all I need to say. Must be time to say goodbye.

Thanks, Dan, you brought a lot of joy to IndyCar fans and, apparently, you weren't a half-bad human being, either. :) Gotta say, I sure hope you found there is a heaven and you're circulating some kart track up there. After I've done sufficient growing up, I wanna bump into you, sometime.

Rest easy, man.


Monday, October 3, 2011

We Saw It All

This year's IZOD IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway brought stellar racing, chaos in the pits, and a fairy tale finish.

Tuck in to these (very) random thoughts and observations:
  • Could the weather over the weekend have been any different within a span of 24 hours? Welcome to the Tri-state...
  • Newman Haas (P4 and P6): Overachievers. Period.
  • Charlie Kimball stepped out of his car after the race, took a very animated deep breath, then grinned. Mile-and-a-halves are killers. Respect to all the drivers.
  • With two second-place finishes in two years, Kentucky is Eddie Carpenter's best track. With it on the bubble for '12, Ed was, essentially, running out of chances to seal the deal for his first win--but he did.
  • The award for most impressive entourage goes to rookie and part-timer, Wade Cunningham. Post-race found him swallowed up in a scrum of tats and long hair you simply couldn't ignore. BTW: P7 in his third start and besting his mile-and-a-half master teammate, Wheldon, by seven spots? Are you kidding me?!
  • Post-race presser saw Dario being interviewed for his P2 finish while Willy P's ubiquitous Verizon advert played on the monitors above. Irony...
  • When you encounter the Sarah Fisher Racing organization, it looks more like a family reunion than a race team. Makes the win even more miraculous.
  • During the Indy Lights broadcast, Michael Andretti said he would like to see other IndyCar owners step up and support the Road to Indy program--I would too.
  • Our .3 megapixel pics from race tracks have GOT TO GO (don't hold your breath).
  • Simona in Switzerland County, Indiana: a little awkward for me.
  • Buddy Rice getting some fresh looks for '12 because of his development background--kool.
  • For the ladies: Dan Wheldon's driver suit is obscenely tight. You're welcome.
  • On Will Power: What do you say? He's not out of it, but DAYUM.
  • Townsend Bell goes from 26th to 11th for DRR. Underrated?
  • Tag steps out of the car and into the booth: team player.
  • Note to Versus: Please don't play radio chatter on air without, somehow, identifying the source.
  • Mrs. Power's team sends their driver rocketing into the side of Mr. Power, possibly screwing him, royally, with regard to the championship. Awkward?
  • Tag says he thinks "Vegas will be a fantastic race." I like the sound of that.
  • Graham Rahal, not outwardly angry, but very emotional in his post-race interview. Tells you what a competitor he is, and I don't blame him--this was supposed to be "the year."
Finally, a few shout-outs:

To those injured, yesterday, a big AHOI get well soon!

To Kentucky Speedway: Thanks for the great hospitality and for putting on another stellar show. May not be next year, but we WILL be back.

Lastly, to you folks. Thanks for reading our tweets, viewing our hideously poor-quality pics, and hitting up our posts, this weekend. Truly one of the greatest experiences I've had in racing, and without an audience, it's just me, if you know what I'm sayin'?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kentucky Speedway: How it All Went Down--Day 1

*touches fingers to keyboard; they shatter like candy glass*
The weather predictor says it's supposed to be sunny and 77 degrees, NEXT Saturday. Right. Shuttin' up.

Stellar day at the big bowl in the Bluegrass. Here's how it all went down--in random, unedited, unproofread blurts.

RAIN. Just a few drops on the windscreen as I hammered down I-71 toward Kentucky Speedway. It obviously didn't amount to anything, but was momentarily PANICKED.

The drive flew by, thanks to a little help from a Fat Man In The Bathtub and a Freebird. Ah, to be young again [adjusts Depends undergarment].

Arrived at the track in record time. Eased the CR-V into its spot, and kaBOOM, brush with greatness. R. Miller steps out of his rental next to me. Knew it was going to be a day to be remember.

Settled in. Bumped into @KimJackson of @FollowAndretti fame. Two words: lovely woman.

Strode out to pit lane to watch a bit of IndyCar FP1 and RUH-ROH, problem. Crackberry battery takes a crap, and phone SEIZES. Implemented "emergency half-hour drive back to Florence Y'all" to replace said battery. 25-minute wait, cell phone dude rummages through every drawer in store--nothing. PANIC. *Finally* turns up a second-hand battery that's completely flat (BONUS). Back in my sleigh, charging all the way to the speedway.

Stalked, met, and exchanged pleasantries with Paul Dalbey (@Fieldof33) of @MoreFrontWing fame. Kind gentleman.

Stumbled upon a nice-sized hole in the pit wall that an out-of-control car could either drive through and endanger those behind the wall, or cut a car in half. Me thinks it should be addressed.

Sought warmth, intermittently [insert my wife--and you--saying "WHAHH" here].

Nearing the end--you're welcome.

Wound up the day with an enjoyable exchange with THE Curt Cavin. Good man, and you know what? He took time out from interviewing qualifiers coming off track to chat with me--to boot, I'm nobody. BAM.

Couple random observations:
  1. Cars' paint jobs aren't in their usual flawless, gleaming brilliance. Why pay for paint with just a couple of races left?
  2. TK (P 19). Sato (P 22). Viso (P 23). KV canned their hot-shot engineer with multiple races to go in the season... O_o 
Finally, killer lineup for tomorrow. DON'T miss the action (Graham says three-wide possible). Race airs at 2:00 ET on Versus.

Thanks for reading and supporting AHOI, my friends. Till tomorrow--or later.