Sunday, August 02, 2009

dear indy race league, where can i get one of those push to pass buttons for my honda crv?

Believe it or not last night was the first time this Bluegrass Girl and avid IndyCar Series fan visited the Kentucky Speedway. I’ve attended nearly fifteen IndyCar races – but only at The Track (Indianpolis Motor Speedway) and at the Nashville Super Speedway. For many years the Kentucky race always fell on the same weekend at the New Song festival at my beloved Camp Loucon. And even after moving from Nashville to Bowling Green the Nashville race was still closer.

But with the Nashville race off the ICS schedule (for?) now (probably not for now, probably for permanent), 2009 was the year for my inaugural Kentucky race.It was a night for another first; my very first race without my racing Yoda, Johnny G. And I must say, the student has become the master. I took my mom and my friend, Laura, with me. And I was the veteran. I was in charge of leading the way. When we first approached the gate to head to the Will Call window for our tickets I had a little freak-out moment. “Oh no, what am I doing here? I don’t know how to do this! I need John.” But then I remembered it was not my first time to the rodeo. It was not even my tenth. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “I have been in the IndyCar Series longer than half of the drivers in the league. I know exactly how to do this.” And we walked through the security line and decided as a group we would do this our own way. We went a little Anti-Johnny G. We came to the track without a clipboard full of paper for lap statistics. We brought no extra batteries. Among us we only had one Sharpie. We had no radio. And we didn’t even rent a Track Scanner. We went a little commando, if you will. We even forgot to take a picture of ourselves at the track. Something Yoda John never would have done.The Kentucky Speedway is in a gorgeous part of my beloved home Commonwealth (But really, is there any part that isn’t gorgeous? Don’t answer that.). It’s in a hilly/mountainous area along the Ohio River about half-way between Louisville and Cincinnati. The scenery around the track is breathtaking. The facilities are really nice. The people were friendly.Throughout the race I’d look around the stands and try to decide if the crowd at the Kentucky Speedway is more or less NASCAR-ish than the Nashville Super Speedway. And I think I’d call it a draw. Especially considering that “That Guy” (NASCAR Man the TK Fan) whose favorite IndyCar driver is Tony Kanaan was, as always, sitting right in front of me. (See Jeff’s My Name Is IRL post on my "NASCAR Man the TK Fan" theory).

“That Guy”, sitting right in front of us, seemed 47 sheets to the wind when we got to our seats in Stand 4. Tellingly, we didn’t actually see “That Guy” with anything alcoholic until about 40 laps from the end. So, “That Guy” must have started at breakfast. The only people that seemed a little more annoyed with "That Guy" being the only man standing in a 30 row vicinity at throughout the race, taking photos of who-knows-what with his camera phone, and pointing across the track any time anyone pitted were, sadly, his wife (common-law or otherwise), and his two daughters.

Johnny G. and I like to play this game when we go to the track that I guess you could call “Siblings of Celebrities”. It’s simple really; find someone in the crowd who looks like a famous person. Take a photo of them. And give them a name. Sitting two rows in front of us last night was Dave’s brother, Ed Letterman.
This season there have been a lot of complaints from fans, and even drivers, about the lack of passing and side-by-side racing on ovals. Thankfully, the League chose to make some changes that would change the aerodynamics of the cars and also bring back the “Push to Pass” feature from seasons past – something the former CHAMP Car drivers were accumosted to from their turbo charged engines. Everyone is calling this new feature “Push to Pass”. But I think it’s official name is the Honda Overtake Button. A driver is able to push a button on their dash that…does…uh…something to the fuel mixture that gives the car a burst of speed for 12 seconds. Or something like that. After those 12 seconds the feature won’t do anything for 10 seconds. And each car has 20 “Honda Overtakes” pushes per race. At least I hope I’m explaining this correctly…

All I know is that IT WORKED! We had side-to-side racing and lots of passing last night! What a race. I have to say, it was one of my favorite races I have seen in person. The only other race I can remember being more exciting was 2005’s Indy 500 (the year Danica Patrick became the first female to lead a lap at Indy and Sam Hornish, Jr. passed Marco Andretti in the last turn for the win.)
But the best part was that Ed Carpenter nearly got his first win! Nearly being 0.0162 seconds!!! I have long been a Carpenter fan. He’s one of those guys that often has good, solid races with Top 10 finishes. His best finish has been fifth, which he’s done at three races. He and his team, Vision Racing, have yet to win a race. If Ed had won it would have been huge. As Barney from “How I Met Your Mother” would say, “Legend – wait for it – dary!” Early on in the race I noticed Ed was fast. He started in P14 and passing cars all over the place. That yellow Menard’s car definitely caught my eye and kept my attention. Before I knew it, he was up in fourth, then third, and then swapping between second and first. Watching him felt reminiscent of watching Sam Hornish, Jr. during his Panther Racing days. By the end, I was hoarse from yelling his name in the last 20 laps. He really almost won that thing! And the people in the stands were trying to help him cross the line first. But, alas, Ryan Briscoe won another one…But as “That Guy” slurred me to as he stumbled out of his row, “You can’t get any better than a photo finish”.

All photos taken by me unless otherwise noted.

1 comment:

George Phillips (Oilpressure) said...

Outstanding re-cap of a great race. And explained the "push to pass" correctly. After fifteen races, I'd say that you are definitely now the "master".