Why Do We Go To Races?

Posted in IndyCar on March 20, 2019 by Oilpressure

By Susan Phillips

Note from George:  Thanks to my wife for pinch-hitting today. I am lucky to have a job that does not normally require me to bring work home with me. But every now and then, the day-job gets super crazy and forces me to work on projects at night. This is one of those times. Things have been so hectic this week, I have not had the time nor the energy to write at night. I was just going to announce that there would be no post today, but Susan jumped in at the last minute and wrote this up Monday and Tuesday night. Things may be just as crazy next week, but then things will get back to normal; just in time for us to go to Barber. Thanks again, Susan! – GP

I guess the title of this article should really be, “Why do I go to Races?” I think most of you know why my husband goes to as many races as our finances will allow. That’s because he’s fanatical about it. Me – not so much. But I really do enjoy going to races, I just think that George and I get different things from our race weekends.

Before he and I reconnected in 2001 after dating in college, I never paid a bit of attention to IndyCar. I once went with a boyfriend in the early 80s to a NASCAR race in Nashville and he had access to Bill Elliott’s pit. All I remember about that day was that it was hot and very loud. That was my one and only race to attend until 2002, when George took me to Nashville Superspeedway to watch the IndyCar race. I didn’t realize that night, how my life would become immersed into racing. Looking back, I should have.

George would be happy to just sit or stand in one place and just enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of race cars going by in front of him. When we are at Indianapolis on Qualifying weekend, he is content to just sit in the stands with his feet propped on the seats in front of him and just watch the same few cars practice on Fast Friday. That is probably the happiest and most relaxed I will see him all year.

I can only take so much of that. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just I feel like there are so many other things we are missing out on.

Whether it’s Indy, Barber or any other track we go to. There are lots of things to do. Many tracks, including Barber and St. Pete have free paddock access on certain days. It seemed it was free all weekend at St. Pete when we were there, but Barber provides free access only on Friday. Of course, the Bronze Badge at Indy gives you garage access for the month of May (except the two race days) for $135. That’s a great deal if you live in-town and can go to the track every day.

Somewhere I saw the term for the paddock describing it as the “racer’s locker room”. If you want to see drivers on a regular basis at Indy or if you’re an autograph seeker, the Bronze Badge is the way to go. Or if you get into cars, you can literally stand right next to the cars just a few minutes before they take to the track for practice or qualifying. I’m always amazed at just how little room there is inside these cars. When you are peer inside, you wonder how there is even any room to sit.

George and I have been to a lot of tracks over the last few years. No matter where we are, I enjoy the people. I enjoy watching people and talking to them. George isn’t much on striking up a conversation with a stranger. He loves it when readers recognize him and come up and talk to us. But just to start chatting it up with someone standing in a line with us, that’s not him. He thinks people want to be left alone, just as he does. Me, I love it. I like meeting new people and talking it up with them. You never know what you’ll find out about them or who they might be.

When we were at the Andretti Winery near Sonoma last fall, I started talking to a woman in there. It turned out, she worked for Firestone and lives in Nashville not that far from us. George wanted me to just leave her alone, but had I followed his advice, I never would have known that.

On the other hand, one day at St. Pete we were having lunch with several people in the media that were hard-core racing folks. They were talking about something that had happened back in the 90s. I was lost, but that was where George jumped right in and held his own with them. But unless he knows you or feels comfortable jumping into the topic of conversation, he’ll pretty much keep to himself unless you approach him.

I also like checking out what is available for kids and families to enjoy at race tracks. Although it’s been years since I was a mother to young kids, I still remember how tough it was to keep the kids occupied when visiting adult-oriented attractions. St. Pete and Barber both do a very good job with that. Some of the other tracks are lagging in that department. I keep thinking that if you keep the young kids entertained, they might become race fans when they are older.

I also enjoy some of the people we have met over the years. I can tell that long after George retires from this site, he and Paul Dalbey will still be lifelong friends. That’s odd considering they are 22 years apart in age, but you’d never know it. Paul seems older than he is and George seems younger, so they sort of meet in the middle.

But I’ve grown close to some of the others that we only see at races. It’s always fun to catch up with them at our first race of the season. That was one reason we liked St. Pete so much. It was the first race for everybody.

Ask anyone who has been to an IndyCar race in person, there is nothing like being there. Sure you can see a lot more if you sit at home and watch it on TV, but the sensory overload you feel as the cars scream by you is indescribable, so I won’t even try.

But what is the number one reason I attend IndyCar races? Because George wants me there. Most men would look at going to a race track for the weekend as a chance to get way from their wife and family. It’s a chance to hang out with other guys and do whatever guys do when they’re together. George wants me there, and not just because I take much better photos than he does. He’ll do a guy’s trip once a year with Paul, but he really likes having me along. It’s nice to be wanted.

The sights, the smells and the sounds of a race track are enticing. And I really enjoy watching and talking to the people at tracks, both the ones we know and don’t know. But us getting to experience all of this with each other is what really keeps bringing me back.

How Did This Happen?

Posted in IndyCar on March 18, 2019 by Oilpressure

There is a popular TV commercial out right now with the tagline “Stay in your lane, bro”. I should probably heed that advice and stick with what I know, rather than treading into waters where I could be eaten by sharks that know a lot more about this topic than I do. But I’m going to give it a try.

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Trendiness, Buzzwords & Pet-Peeves

Posted in IndyCar on March 15, 2019 by Oilpressure

The NTT IndyCar Series offseason ended this past weekend, with Josef Newgarden and Team Penske collecting the first win of the season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The podium had no real surprises, so it appears to be business as usual. There was a lot of offseason news to write about, which left me little time to devote to some of the more frivolous “puff” pieces I like to do in the offseason. Since there is a weekend between the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the IndyCar Classic at COTA, I thought I would squeeze one in that I had planned to run a couple of weeks ago – so just pretend for a few minutes that we are still in the offseason.

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My First Street Course

Posted in IndyCar on March 13, 2019 by Oilpressure

By Susan Phillips

The great thing about this race was how well-attended it was. I saw a wide variety of fans—I don’t know if Florida just loves a chance to gather and party or this is a well-established race that always draws a crowd. I did not see this from a fan’s perspective—finding a place to park in the downtown area, getting to the venue, and all the other things involved with attending a race in the downtown area.

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Random Thoughts on St. Petersburg

Posted in IndyCar on March 11, 2019 by Oilpressure

This will be somewhat abbreviated for a couple of reasons. First, I wrote about the race yesterday soon after it was over. Secondly, it is late Sunday night as I type this. We have a 9:30 am flight to catch and I’m tired. So this will be brief.

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Josef Newgarden Wins at St. Petersburg

Posted in IndyCar on March 10, 2019 by Oilpressure

The 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is in the books and Josef Newgarden was standing atop the podium after the first checkered flag of the new NTT IndyCar Season was waved.

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It’s Race Day at St. Petersburg!

Posted in IndyCar on March 10, 2019 by Oilpressure

Race Day started early for Mr. and Mrs. Oilpressure this morning. We had to be at the track early for the complimentary pace car ride offered to members of the media, which hard to believe – we qualify for. We had to be there at 7:30. With the time change, it was still dark when we got to the track. While standing in line, we met a longtime reader of this site named Steve from New Hampshire. He is a very knowledgeable fan an we had a great time talking to him. I would also like to mention another longtime reader we met yesterday – Paul and his wife, from nearby Sarasota, FL. They flagged us down when they spotted us. I always enjoy talking with people that have supported this site over the years.

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