Five Years And Counting

Please excuse the total self-indulgence of today’s post. Although I always try to throw a little about myself into this site, today is completely self-serving. My apologies in advance.

Over the last fifty-two years since my first Indianapolis 500, I’ve experienced a lot of wonderful things at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To keep from sounding like I’m gloating, I won’t mention them here. But suffice it to say if I never set foot on the grounds of IMS again, I would have a ton of memories to cherish for the rest of my life.

The wealth of childhood memories and all, along with all of my experiences at IMS as an adult; do not compare with what I experienced five years ago today at IMS.

It was on May 18, 2012 – the Friday evening before Pole Day and five years ago today, that Susan and I got married in a simple ceremony in one of the Gasoline Alley Suites directly behind the pits that are close to Turn One.

Through this blog site, we met a couple who became very good friends of ours – Tad & Silvia, who were associated with one of the sponsors. We first met them at Barber in 2011 and became fast friends. We were guests in their suite during qualifying weekend of that year. Later that year, when marriage talk started becoming a real thing – I got the idea to ask them if a wedding would be possible in their suite.

I had always envied people that got to recite their nuptials at places like Wrigley Field, Neyland Stadium or other places that one or both cherished. But I always thought wearing a baseball or football jersey for such an occasion was a bit much. Venues aside, I still felt that the occasion called for some form of reverence – so no fire suits or helmets for us.

When I asked them, not only did they say yes – they went the extra mile to make sure that our special day was even more special.

Since IndyCar racing is so near and dear to my heart, I waited until the morning of the season-opening St. Petersburg race to “pop the question”. Once the ring was on Susan’s finger, I told her about the plans for the wedding venue. Being the good sport that she is, she was thrilled.

Susan and Silvia got together and made all the arrangements. One of Susan’s best friends from her past was by now an ordained Methodist minister. She came up from Charlotte to preside, along with another of her longtime friends who served as her Matron-of-Honor. My longtime friend and One Take Only cohort, John McLallen, served as my Best Man, while Paul Dalbey of More Front Wing was our photographer. Susan used her own cake-decorating skills to make our own cake. Not only did Tad & Silvia provide the suite, the also chipped in with the champagne.

For those that don’t know (or care), Susan and I dated our freshman year at the University of Tennessee back in 1977 and some of our sophomore year.




Except for a chance meeting in 1981, we never saw each other after 1978. In the eighties, we both graduated, got careers in different parts of the state, married different people and had two kids apiece – all while losing complete touch with each other. We somehow reconnected with each other in 2001, and we just seemed to pick up where we left off in 1978.

We both had our own kids living with us in our respective homes. Neither of us were anxious to do the blended family thing, so we dated and let the kids grow up in their own homes. Once three of the four kids had grown up and gone, we decided we had waited long enough.

The entire ceremony took about fifteen minutes. We had the perfect setting – looking out over the pits and main straightaway of the famed oval as we said our vows to begin our life together. I’ll admit to becoming completely distracted from whatever the minister was saying, when I looked out and saw Ol’ Calhoun being towed through the pits to the area under the Pagoda for Parnelli Jones to drive his 1963 winner the next day.



After we said our “I do’s”, we had cake, champagne and posed for pictures. Then our friends took us out onto the track for more pictures and a “victory lap” on a golf cart through the garage area. I remember seeing Sarah Fisher giving us a big thumbs-up as we drove right by her.






We finished our evening by taking everyone involved with the wedding to Dawson’s on Main, just to thank them for being part of our big day. What was my wedding dinner? A tenderloin, of course.

We delayed our honeymoon by a week – after the race was over. The next day, we were back at the track as newlyweds. We returned to the suite and the scene of the crime – much more relaxed than the evening before.


But a dinner at Dawson’s didn’t seem quite enough to thank our good friends, Tad and Silvia, for all they had done. After all, none of it would have been possible without their help. So we chose to immortalize them at IMS. We got them a brick that will forever be embedded at IMS behind the Pagoda in the Pagoda Plaza. If you’re there this month, go try and find it.


Five years later, we are still going strong. We’ve had a few of life’s setbacks. Seven months after our wedding, Susan lost her job which devastated her. A year and a half ago she lost her mother and last year when we were at Road America, her brother died unexpectedly. Through it all, she has remained strong during the obstacles that life can throw at you. We love going to races together and I vow to get her to a beach sometime soon that does not feature a race track. I know it sounds corny, but after meeting over forty years ago, getting sidetracked and the reconnecting after all those years – we were meant to be.

Tad and Silvia are no longer involved as race sponsors. Consequently, they are no longer at any of the races. We miss their presence on race weekends, but we still keep up with them on a regular basis and will always consider them to be some of our closest friends.

The day will come when I stop blogging and I’ll eventually stop going to IMS, although I will have probably already assumed room temperature by the time that happens. But it’s comforting to know that I’ll have some sort of lasting mark at the track along with Tad and Silvia’s brick.

It’s amazing what this blog site has led to over the last eight years. It has opened a lot of doors and I’ve gotten to experience things I only dreamed of just a decade ago. But nothing…and I mean nothing can compare to what we experienced on May 18, 2012. Thanks, Tad and Silvia! You made our dream come true.

George and Susan Phillips

8 Responses to “Five Years And Counting”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    Congratulations Susan and George. Your wedding story is a wonderful illustration of the great lengths that the racing fan community will go to do things for one another. Enjoy the anniversary.

  2. Ron Ford Says:

    I would never presume to direct this advice toward George and Susan or suggest it would work for them. I will only say it has worked for me. Mostly. “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half closed afterward and you will have a happy marriage.”

  3. Fantastic post. Congratulations, George and Susan, and here’s to many more happy years together.

  4. Brian McKay in Florida Says:

    I hope that you are enjoying your anniversary.

  5. Nice story George. I met my second wife at the end of Turn 1 when Associate Press assigned her to take photos there and instruct her to find me, the turn captain and ask me to assign her a position in the turn. For a month I got to tell her what to do and she did it.
    I didn’t see again until opening day a year later. By then I was single and her engagement had ended. By the end of the month we had decided to get married and to it at the starting line at 7am the next 500.
    Ron McQueeney, head of the photo department took our engagement photo for us as we stood on the track at the entrance to Turn 1 with the straightaway behind us. We actually got married a few months later just across 30th street from the North 40.
    I sincerely hope your marriage lasts longer than ours did.

  6. S0CSeven Says:

    Many, many congrats on your happiness!

    I did the same thing. Dated a brilliant girl in high school … strayed …. married the exactly wrong person ……. called up the brilliant girl from high school ……. and 43 years & 4 grandchildren later life is perfect.

    Wish you the best and at a minimum, 43 years of happiness.

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