A Labor Of Love

By Susan Phillips

There are not too many people in your life who would drop everything with two weeks notice to be with you on one of the most important days of your life. But that was how it was with our friends who attended our wedding at IMS last weekend. I’m going to focus on MY friends this time, even though John McLallen (the best man) and I, became fast friends, as we share the same warped sense of humor. We laughed a lot about “How the cow ate the cabbage” (meaning found here). But I suspect John would have jumped at the chance to attend qualifying even if we had to strap him to the top of the car.

I’m going to tell the stories of my “ladies in waiting,” for they surely made me feel like a queen that day. To my knowledge, none of my “ladies” had ever been to a racetrack except one.

Originally the wedding was going to be a very small affair, just George and me, our hosts, and an officiant. As the time for the wedding drew closer we began to think that we wanted to be surrounded by our friends who care about us and who have been there for us throughout our lives.

A little background about my friends:


02karenguest My friend since 1984, from Charlotte, North Carolina, stepped in when our officiant had other commitments and could not perform the ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony and it was made even more special by the fact that Karen and I had been long time friends. Due to a commitment at her church, where she is the Youth Minister, she was not able to spend the rest of the weekend with us.


04peggy We have known each other since 1981 where we worked together in religious publishing. We have been through so much together. Her sweet mother died about two weeks before the wedding and I was afraid she would not be up to making the trip. I will forever be grateful to her for making the trip and also tearing herself away form her young grandchild, River.


06georgehanna Hannah is Peggy’s daughter. I was there when she was born, graduated form high school and got married last October. I have gotten to know what a truly special young woman she is through our annual Sistuh’s weekend.


11dolgen1 Whitney was a pro—born and bred in Bristol, Virginia, she was more or less raised at the Bristol track. I like to hear the story she tells of her attending races with her dad and drawing pink racecars when she got bored–as most 6 year olds might at the track. Whitney can sure tell a story!


03jess The one word I can use to describe Jess is “unflappable.” She is the calm in the sea of my job. She used to be my assistant, but as with all excellent workers, she got promoted. Now I run back there when things get stressful, she always provides an ear to my frequent vents. I don’t know if her calmness is just her personality or the fact that she is a military wife.

The day after the wedding, we all went our separate ways—I think some shopping was involved, and agreed to meet at the track later. Nothing is as much fun than to show people around the track who have never been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The sheer size of it is pretty daunting—I told them “if you can get to the Pagoda, you can get anywhere.” I also said, “the Yellow Shirts will get you where they need to be,” which was not necessarily true, as they ran into a bumper crop of rookie Yellow Shirts.

We hit Gasoline Alley, where there was much activity—we had George as our guide, as I still am not sure who all the drivers are yet. Rick Mears put in an appearance and a line quickly formed around him. Peggy queued up in the line because we told her he was a very big deal. After that it seemed that the racing bug bit everyone. We soon saw Will Power and he graciously agreed to let us take his photo with Peggy and Hannah. We walked a few more places, and up zoomed Justin Wilson. If you ever are in the garage area, you know that YOU are pretty much the one who is kept waiting in line, but Justin was most accommodating as we rushed up and got a group shot. He made good use of his time by putting on his fire suit. Now I’m a Justin Wilson fan, too, how many drivers would actually pause on qualifying day to wait for you to gather your entourage around for a photo shoot?



09wilson We then saw bride-to-be, Monica Hilton, and gave her some wedding tips—always know where the rings are and make sure you have a great village to support you. We then went on a quest to find Helio for Whitney’s neice, Monroe, she is a huge Helio fan.

12monica We left the garage area and headed up to the suite to watch some qualifying. I slipped out and bought some tenderloins, as no visit to the IMS is complete without them.


15final shot We had a memorable time. I hope I made some fans and I will always remember this weekend, and as with most experiences that are monumental in your life, these women will always have a special place in my heart. I can’t imagine sharing it with anyone else.

5 Responses to “A Labor Of Love”

  1. Well, if reading that wasn’t a good way to get amped up for going to the track for Carb Day, I don’t know what is. Hope to see you and George (and the entire rest of the Oilpressure entourage) tomorrow.

  2. SkipinSC Says:

    Congratulations to you both. I had the experience last year of taking my wife for her first trip to the Speedway as we hit Carb Day and Race Day. What a tremendous idea to share your nuptials there. Those are memories that are unique and irreplaceable.

  3. Susan Carroll Says:

    Looks like a wonderful bonding time…..congratulations to you and your soulmate.

  4. I can’t remember a better time and I am honored to have been a part of it. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become even more special to me.


  5. Justin Wilson is a class act.

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