Good Morning From Road America

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Welcome to a warm and sunny Road America in beautiful Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It is much more pleasant today (Saturday) than yesterday. Friday, it was breezy and we were wearing sweatshirts. Today I’m in a polo and even have a pair of shorts on standby in the car.

The MX-V Cup cars (Mazda Miatas) are on track right now for their second race of the weekend. We watched quite a bit of their race yesterday and they really put on a good show. Practice Three for the Verizon IndyCar Series gets underway at 11:00 CDT and will run until 11:45. IndyCar Qualifying begins at 3:00 CDT and will be shown delayed on NBCSN at 5:30 CDT.

For a cool and cloudy day yesterday, the crowd here was great. Robin Miller says that the Friday crowd here yesterday was bigger than most IndyCar races draw. I know one thing, the campgrounds throughout the track were already filling up on Friday, when they haven’t swelled to that size normally until Saturday afternoon in the two previous years here.

When we arrived here this morning, you could feel the buzz. There is a huge sponsor presence here today that was not here on Friday. We saw trams that were essentially extended golf carts with sponsor VIPs getting the royal treatment. Gehl, Graham Rahal’s sponsor for the weekend, has a lot of signage around the track and has a heavy equipment display outside the main structure here that holds the media center. There are a lot of corporate ambassadors showing customers around, giving a feel of importance to this event.

While some local fans may see this as a commercialization of their track, I see this as being healthy for this event and the series as a whole. Just yesterday, the series made official what we had been hearing for a while – that Phoenix will not return to the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule in 2019. So whenever sponsors are willing to invest heavily in an IndyCar event – be happy about it.

Last night, we did go to the place I was hoping to go to – Majerle’s Black River Grill in Sheboygan, right off of Lake Michigan. We waited in the bar for our table, just long enough for me to polish off one Spotted Cow beer, while Susan had a glass of chardonnay.

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This is strictly a local place and there were lots of regulars n the bar. But I was surprised to see a couple of people we know and had seen at the track earlier, walk in. Turns out, they were staying with a local and he highly recommended that they check the place out. When we were seated, we were right next to a window. We saw a couple of deer milling around and even a couple of foxes. Suddenly, I glanced back over and saw the deer helping himself to the contents of a bird feeder.

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We split an order of cheese curds which were phenomenal. I could have made a meal off of them. I had a combination plate of fried lake perch and bluegill. Both were tasty, but the bluegill had a bit more flavor than the perch. If you are ever in this area and want to get some authentic local flavor – check it out.

OK, IndyCar practice is about t get underway and we are heading out. I’ll have a wrap up today and Susan’s article may hit sometime today as well, but she’s still putting photos together so it may be tomorrow or maybe as late as next week. In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter at @Oilpressureblog or Susan at @MrsOilpressure for photos, comments and videos throughout the day. Please check back this afternoon.

George Phillips

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