“Our” Racing Season Is About To Begin

By Susan Phillips

It’s hard to believe, but George and I start “our” racing season in less than two weeks. By “our” season, I mean the races we will be going to in person this year. Yes, in just over a week and a half we will be getting up at the crack of dawn (or before dawn, if George has his way), to head down to Birmingham for the race at Barber.

Last year, we started our racing season a little earlier at New Orleans. That was sort of a surreal trip for me. We love going to New Orleans, but three days is about as much as we can take. We’ve reached the age where our trips down there consist mostly of food rather than alcohol. In our college days it would have been the other way around. Today, trips to New Orleans mean I spend a lot of time in obscure restaurants on and around Bourbon Street watching George eat. Despite his size, he puts away an enormous amount of food. I keep thinking his age will catch up to him at some point and he’ll weigh 300 pounds, but so far that hasn’t happened.

But last year, we never even saw the French Quarter. Instead, we stayed close to the track. That was a weird race to attend. The track was a nice place, but real spread out. And the weather was horrible. It rained and flooded the track practically all weekend. Even if they had raced there this year, we decided we weren’t going. It just wasn’t a ton of fun.

But we LOVE Barber, though. It’s close to home, it’s beautiful down there and is always a good time. We’ve been to every race there since IndyCar started racing there and we’ve never had a bad time. Even though a couple of years ago, it rained just as hard as it did at New Orleans last year, it was still fun.

Our racing season last year was tough on us (me, anyway). We drove to New Orleans, then two weeks later we were driving to Birmingham. Just six days later, we were back in the car for the first of four straight trips to Indy. George decided we just had to be there for a test session the first weekend in May. By the time we drove up for the race, we had driven to a race track six out of seven weekends. I was burned out and it took all of June for me to recover. That was the end of our racing season for last year. It was all compressed into a seven week period. It was too much in too little time. George loved it but I was on racing overload.

This year seems better. Barber is in two weeks. We get a weekend to rest up after Barber before the Indy trips start and there are only three Indy weekends this year instead of four. What we’re both looking forward to is not being so depressed after Indy is over. Since the Nashville race went away years ago, Indy has always been our last race of the season. This year is different.

Four weeks after Indy, we’ll be going to Road America in Wisconsin. That’ll give us plenty of time to rest up after the month of May. George always said that if IndyCar ever raced at Road America that we were going. They are this year, so here we go.

George hates to fly. He’s not afraid of flying, he just hates the hassle of getting to the airport, parking the car, TSA, and his biggest pet-peeve is renting a car. His thinking is that by the time you leave the house and get to the final destination, you could have driven it in not much more time for a lot less money, PLUS you have your own car when you get there. I disagree. I find flying relaxing. Other people are doing the work. Plus, it pains George to part with a dollar more than it does me. Translation: He’s cheap! [I didn’t just say that, did I?]

I did do one smart thing, though. As soon as George said the track was on the schedule and we knew the date, I booked us a room last fall. From what we hear from friends also planning to go, everything is booked up for miles.

So, we’re driving from Nashville to Wisconsin. It looks like a nine hour drive. Uggh! But it helps that we’ve decided to turn this into something of a vacation. We’ll stay Sunday night after the race at our hotel and then take a ferry across Lake Michigan. I’ve spent time in the Traverse City area and loved it, so we’re going to spend a few days of R&R there. We’ll then meander back to Nashville sometime that week and have some restful days at home through the July 4th weekend.

We love Barber and we love Indy. I’m curious to see how we love Road America. George swears we will, even though he’s never been there. Due to lack of vacation time, that may do it for me. George on the other hand, has asked if I’d get mad if he went to other races without me. I told him it wouldn’t, but I’ll be honest that it will be weird watching a race and knowing he’s there and I’m not. He and our friend Paul Dalbey are talking about doing a guy’s trip or two later this season. That should be interesting…

As worn out as I was by the end of May last year, I’m almost as excited as George is to be back on the road to go to a race. We both love Barber. Their staff is very friendly and go out of their way to show everyone from “up north” what genuine southern hospitality is. We’re from the south, but we’re still as impressed. They have free trams that take everyone where they want to go and the scenery is gorgeous.

With a schedule more spread out, this should be a much more enjoyable season for us

It all starts in less than two weeks and we cannot wait!

16 Responses to ““Our” Racing Season Is About To Begin”

  1. Besides Indianapolis we will try to sneak in a Chicago Cubs game in either Chicago or Atlanta.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      I have long admired Cubs fans for their loyalty in the face of adversity John. My Uncle Paul would listen to Cub’s games on a transistor radio while driving his tractor through the farm fields of Clinton County, Indiana. He truly believed each year that it was going to be “their year to win it all”.

  2. Susan- It looks like I (we) will be at the same races as you and George this year. I will be driving with my wife, parents, and two kids 4, and 2 to Barber. We are staying in Birmingham and I am going aid my Dad around at Barber since his health is not so great. I had to do some convincing to my Mom and the trams sold them on going. I planned on doing the Barber trip last year while my parents were visiting and I chickened due to the difficulty after doing a trial run at a monthly music festival here in Louisville due to the impending difficulty with a 1 year old, and my Dad who struggles with COPD. My parents insist on visiting during the same dates as Barber every year, so this year I said I’m fine with you coming to visit but we are going to Barber.

    I still don’t have tickets for Indy yet. From the sounds of things, I had better get some soon.

    Mellisa and I reserved rooms near RA as well and plan to take a couple days as well to mess around. My Dad raced there when I was a kid and have not been there in like 40 years so I am sure it is a lot different than I remember. My brother was there racing in the SCCA 2 years ago so I got some real insight on what driving Road America is like from him. There is nothing like seeing the Indy Cars run on a track like RA.

  3. Ron Ford Says:

    I am so happy that I will have an opportunity to meet y’all up nort der at the National Park of speed. I think you will enjoy our northern hospitality also. A nine hour drive is tough. There are about 6-8 toll booths along the Illinois Tollway around Chicago. I believe you will enjoy the ferry ride over to Michigan. The Traverse Bay/Petosky area is indeed beautiful. You have confirmed what many of us here have suspected……….that you will be traveling with the Uncle Bobby of spenders.

    I have been wondering if any other of your regular correspondents will be going to the Road America race?

  4. In addition to the Month of May, I’m really looking forward to Road America as well. Will be driving from Indy, and might have an extended stay in Wisconsin as well. I like having the schedule a little more spread out this year.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    There’s nothing like the start of “your” racing season. It’s kinda like Christmas. Months of planning, preparation, and anticipation that build up to an exciting several hours. I have yet to lose enthusiasm for going to the track, I hope I never do.

    My racing season started back in February, and will include Monster Jam, World of Outlaws (twice), NASCAR Cup (at least once), NASCAR Trucks (at least once), NHRA, and, what I am most excited about, Indycars at Texas and… Indianapolis. This will be my 2nd 500, and I cannot wait. Add US F2000, Pro Mazda, USAC Silver Crown, Indy Lights, and possibly USAC sprint cars to my season as well, as I hope to catch all of those while in and around Indy this May.

  6. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Definite: Indy 500.
    Likely: GP Indy.
    Maybes (at most 2 from..): RA, POC, MID-O, IOW.

    I love road trips, just not the painfully long, multiple-day affairs. For me, POC and RA and IOW are the extent of one-dayers (10-hour drive max).

    NASH, STL, MIS, CHI, and KEN would make that list as well should they ever return as Indycar events… (hint, hint).

    ALSO, dear Indycar, where are the bus trips? We had a great one to Kentucky Speedway in 2011. Make it easier for we fans to decide on an extra race or two and leave the driving to someone else…

  7. Bummed out that I won’t be able to make Road America work (especially since I’ve commented on the internet about 1,000 times that they day they announced a race there, I’d be online, booking my tickets…but it’s not gonna work for me this year), but I’m looking forward to seeing you and George (and the other folks here, as well) at Barber and Indy for the 100th Running.

  8. Mark Wick Says:

    Enjoy youf time in the Traverse City area. I have been there frequently in years past. When I travle, I drive for the same reasons as George.
    I won’t personally be at any races this year. After Long Beach I will have to learn how to see the races in Canada as I will be heading to Calgary next week with no plans to head back south. At least I will already be there for the race that may happen next year.
    Have safe and enjoyable trips and I will be looking forward the reports from both of you.

  9. I can tell you NOLA last year was a weird race to watch on the screen, too. With caution after caution all throughout the race, it felt like it only had 7 full laps under green. As such, it didn’t feel like a race. And people didn’t realize how close Carlos Huertas was to winning his 2nd race when he spun himself out of 2nd place at what was either the penultimate or last restart.

    Happy traveling and may you see good events this yeat!

  10. I too had hoped to get to Road America this year, but just don’ t have the time. I would rather fly too, but that is me. I was able to get to Phoenix for the testing day in February (we drove), but my real season starts this weekend in Long Beach. It is a relief to only travel 20 minutes door-to-door. Can’t wait to see and hear the cars. LB is the highlight of Spring.

    Am planning to meet my racing friends at Pocono again this year in August. Maybe we will meet up in Pennsylvania this summer.

    Have fun!

  11. The Lapper Says:

    I will be at Long Beach, Monaco, and Indianapolis to compliment my trip to St. Pete. As for June, I will be hiking the Appalachian Trail, so I’ll catch up in July. Simply amazing.

  12. I’m looking forward to Indy and Road America as well; also, have fun in Traverse City, it’s a great place for a vacation (especially if you like to eat)

  13. Edgar Emmitt Says:

    You will love Road American, trust me our family never missed a Indy Car race back in the year’s . Lots of different places to watch the race from.The drivers in the pits are up close and you can watch them work on the cars up close and the drivers are more relaxed.
    If the weather is right you will fall in love with the rolling tree filled hills..
    And wait till you sink your mouth into a double brat on a real hard roll with a cold beer.
    Welcome to Wisconsin George and Susan

  14. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    Have fun at your races Susan! I keep thinking I will get the chance to meet you and George. We just bought a house in New Orleans, so if you’d like to go back, I have a guest room for you. There will be no race there, though!

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