A Day of Celebration

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Each year on the First of May, I celebrate two things on this site. First and foremost, I take note that our cherished Month of May has finally arrived. I realize that we are still over a week away from track activity at IMS, but just turning the page to our favorite month is enough of a reason to celebrate. May 1 also commemorates the anniversary of the beginning of this site.

But this is a special anniversary, for it was ten years ago today that my first post hit this site. So you’ll have to indulge me a little (or a lot) while I get a little nostalgic about the last ten years and go down memory lane with stories and photos. I apologize on the front-end that it probably comes off as a celebration of me, but I consider it more of an acknowledgment of ten years of IndyCar blogging. I just happen to be the one doing the blogging. But I’ll also give a glimpse on what to expect here for this upcoming Month of May at the end of this post, after you wade through the reminiscing.

When I put up my first post here on May 1, 2009 – I was very reluctant to do so. As the racing season was cranking up, I had been talking with my friend Bruce Yarbro – who is probably my overall best friend. He and I have known each other all of our lives, since early elementary school. We were in high school together, pledged the same fraternity (ΣAE) in college at the University of Tennessee and were roommates in college. After college, Bruce joined the Air Force and flew A-10s in the UK. In 1988, he got out of the USAF and became a pilot for FedEx in Memphis. He retired last year and we’ve never lost touch – even when he was living in England.

Here are two photos of Bruce and me. One was taken while we were still in college in 1979; the other was taken at the IMS Museum in 2011, the day before the race.

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In late March of 2009, Bruce and I were talking on the phone and the conversation drifted to IndyCar. Whatever question he asked as a casual fan, I had a detailed answer for him. He told me that I needed to start a blog. I immediately said “No” and never gave it any more thought. A couple of weeks later, we both visited our hometown for Easter and got together that Saturday night for a couple of adult beverages. Again he brought up the blog topic, but this time he was relentless. I dug in and said no several times.

Later that week, I was talking to my oldest brother Jim, who lives on the coast in North Carolina. He has forgotten more about the history of the Indianapolis 500 than I’ll ever know. He is an avid reader (I am not) and has a memory like Donald Davidson. I call him often when I’m trying to do research. We were talking about racing and the upcoming Month of May, when he suddenly blurted out that I should start an IndyCar blog…completely out of the blue.

OK…that was two separate people I have known and trusted all of my life that have said I should start an IndyCar blog. The next day, I called Bruce and asked him what all was involved if I did this. He gave me a few hints and I reluctantly agreed. Then we started brainstorming on a name and what kind of direction it would go. He wanted to call it Outrageous Indy and that I should always have an extreme and outrageous take on everything related to IndyCar. That didn’t fly with me. I’m not a very outrageous guy and I figured I wouldn’t be able to pull that off for more than a week.

We tossed a few other names and ideas around, but couldn’t agree on anything. Bruce has always been a tech-guy and he already owned several domains for different things that he wasn’t using. Oilpressure was one of them. I thought ”Heck, that sounds semi-race related – let’s just go with that.” So if you thought there was a deep meaning behind Oilpressure, sorry – it was just a free and available domain that my friend let me have.

And instead of being outrageous – I just said I’m going to type about whatever is on my mind that particular day and see where it goes. The next day, he called me and said he already had a site set up for me, all I had to do was type. So if you hate the white type on a black background – blame Bruce. He picked it out. I just never bothered to change it. You know…Change is bad!

I sent him my first post because I didn’t know how to load it in there. He told me it was way too long and I had to cut it back. When I refused, he said no one would read it. He told me I needed to limit each post to just a few paragraphs if I wanted people to read it. I told him I was not that concise. I write like I talk. I could tell he was shaking his head, but he loaded it up on April 30 and the first post dropped in on May 1, 2009.

It got a few comments, but mostly from friends and family. The first real comment came from IRL Defender and he called me a fair-weather fan. OK…welcome to the blogosphere. I’ve officially irked someone. I decided that I would post every day. By that night, I was writing on another topic – Paul Tracy. By Day Three, Bruce was instructing me how to load everything up by myself.

From that point, Bruce took a backseat. He attended his first and only Indianapolis 500 in 2011 and went to Barber the following year. He still considers himself a very casual fan, but still reads most posts I put up here. On a personal note, please keep Bruce in your thoughts and prayers. His wife of thirty-two years was recently diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer. They both have a long road ahead of them.

The IndyCar blogosphere was a crowded world in those days. I was chugging along and picking up more readers every week. But two fellow-bloggers gave me plugs on their respective sites in those first couple of months, and that made all the difference in the world. I will be eternally grateful to Bill Zahren (Pressdog) and Jeff Iannucci (My Name is IRL) for giving props to “the new guy over at Oilpressure.com”. Once they did that, this site took off.

I posted every weekday for four months. I was running out of steam (and topics) quickly. I had already heard of the many bloggers at that time that posted with a flurry for a few months and then disappeared. I didn’t want to be one of them. I had met a lot of people online through the site and was really enjoying it. But I knew I had to pace myself. In September of 2009, I made the decision to cut back to three days a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That schedule remains today.

After a year of blogging, I took a chance to see if IMS would give me media credentials for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. To my amazement, they did. Over the fall, I had struck up an online friendship with Roy Hobbson at The Silent Pagoda. When I picked up my media credentials on Pole Day, I didn’t even know where the Media Center was. He met me in front of The Pagoda and took me up to the Media Center and showed me around. He introduced me to the key people I needed to know up there and to many of my fellow bloggers.

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It was there that I met Paul Dalbey, who was writing for Planet IRL at the time. I also met a very young James Black, who had his own site 16th and Georgetown. Who would’ve predicted that the three of us, who all have a great disparity in our ages, would become good friends over the next few years? James is now a photographer for IndyCar, and we still stay in touch regularly. We met up for a little bit at St. Petersburg this past March and we look forward to seeing him throughout the Month of May.

Paul and his wife, Kelli, have been to our home in Nashville a few times and we have visited theirs in Illinois. Paul traveled with us to Barber last month. Paul, Susan and I have become a regular trio at race tracks and the three of us get along very well – although the two of them regularly take sides with each other and gang up against me on multiple issues. This was the three of us at the 2016 Carb Night Burger Bash – the first year they held it downtown. The second photo was of Paul and me on the Race Morning grid of the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

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That same 2010 Qualifying weekend, I also met Andy Hall with ESPN Media Relations. Andy had taken exception with some of my comments regarding the ABC/ESPN broadcasts during the previous season and e-mailed me to tell me so. But he was reasonable, so I responded with reason. He and I became good friends despite the fact that we disagreed about how races should be covered. When we came back the next week for Race Weekend, Andy gave me a tour of the ESPN Production Trailer. I was in awe. We stay in touch to this day. The only really bad thing about ABC/ESPN losing the contract, is that we will no longer get to see Andy at IMS anymore.

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Being in the IMS Media Center was surreal to me. For decades, I had been following IndyCar racing through Robin Miller, Curt Cavin, Paul Page, John Oreovicz and the like. Suddenly, I’m sitting just a few rows from them – listening to their banter and seeing how they all interact with each other. In this photo from 2016 Race Morning, you can see Paul walking behind me to the far right, with Susan next to me. James Black is further down the row, about to put on his photographer’s vest.

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But perhaps the biggest thrill of all was sitting just a couple of rows in front of Donald Davidson, while he was live on The Talk of Gasoline Alley. I had been listening to this show for years online. Now, I’m sitting a few feet away listening to it happen. In 2010, Kevin Lee e-mailed me asking if I’d like to meet him during a commercial break. Did he even have to ask? At the break, Kevin called me over to meet a man I had admired for years. I don’t get star-struck in the presence of many celebrities, but I did that day. I could hardly talk. He was just as gracious as he is on the air. Since that day, Donald Davidson and I have carried on many conversations and I’m always flattered that he now calls me by name when he sees me. Yes I’m bragging, but I’m allowed to on my tenth anniversary.

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I’m also very grateful that because of this site, IndyCar has granted me full access to any track I go to. In the past, my one race per year was the Indianapolis 500 or a second race in Nashville from 2001 to 2008. Since starting this site; I’ve also been to IndyCar races at Barber, Fontana, NOLA, Road America, Pocono, Gateway, Sonoma and St. Petersburg. Ten years ago, I never would have dreamed of attending races outside of IMS – much less with credentialed access. Not to name-drop, but I’d also like to thank Kevin Lee, who has gone out of his way several times to help me out along the way.

Another big thrill came just last year, in 2018. It was Carb Day at IMS and the practice had just ended. A few of us were having lunch at the Honda Hospitality tent, when I noticed the great Parnelli Jones walked in. I whispered to Paul across the table, that royalty had just entered the house. The place was kind of full, but I was still pleasantly shocked when he walked over and asked if he could join us. Are you kidding? I couldn’t say yes fast enough. That was another time that I got star struck. I told him how I had watched him finish second in my first race at the 1965 “500”, and how I had also seen him race the turbine in 1967. I was a complete and total fan at that moment. He was very accommodating and we sat and talked racing for a while. Paul knew what that moment meant to me, so he snuck a photo of us talking with his phone. That was definitely a pinch-me moment.

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This site has allowed me to meet people, do things and have access at tracks I’ve never dreamed of. I don’t claim to be best buddies to any drivers, but there is a handful that knows me and will confide personal information to me that I’ve never shared on this site. I have struck up a longtime friendship with one of the former sponsors to the series. They provided two-seater rides, trips to far-away tracks, the chance to wave the green flag during a qualifying run and so much inside-access to the point that they still wish to remain anonymous to this day. On top of all that – they provided the suite at IMS, when Susan and I got married in May of 2012.

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They know who they are and they still read this site. I want to personally thank them for all they’ve done. None of that would have been possible without this site.

I also want to thank my mother. She will be ninety-five this summer; but for the last ten years she has made a point to get up early and read every post, looking for errors. By the time I arrive at work every morning, she has already e-mailed me the corrections that need to be made. I’m sure she’ll do it this morning, as well. This was the two of us last year on her ninety-fourth birthday. Her mind is still good and she can maneuver around a computer very well. She still drives, goes to an exercise class three times a week and continues to get around pretty well. We are all very lucky to still have her, and her corrections have saved me a lot of embarrassment. Her last race was fifty years ago this month – the 1969 Indianapolis 500.

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Aside from my brother Jim, who suggested I start this site – I also want to acknowledge my brother Jack. Although Jack didn’t suggest I do this, he has always read each post on the morning I post it. Jack is an avid pilot. I’m not sure I would be so loyal if he started blogging about aviation, so I thank him for being loyal to this site. Here is a photo of the three of us at the IMS Museum in 2016, the day before the race, with Jim to the far left and Jack in the center.

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I must also thank my good friend John McLallen, my sparring partner with One Take Only. He took time out of his day to come to my house and film those quirky videos that some loved and some hated in my backyard. From August of 2011 through March of this year, we filmed forty-two of them. Although they are not as frequent as they once were, I hope we can do one or two of them this month. Even though we’ve had our differences recently, I still consider John a good friend.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t thank one other person – my wife, Susan. Many people have hobbies that their spouse shows no interest in whatsoever. My first wife was like that. When Susan and I attended the first IRL race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2001, she had no idea what an IndyCar was. By the time she accompanied me for her first Indianapolis 500 in 2004, she was already fairly astute for a casual fan.

When I first got credentialed in 2010, she took what photos she could from the stands. One of the many things I am not good at, is photography. Not only do I know nothing about the technical aspects of photography; I’m not good at composing a picture. Some would say I don’t have a good eye for photography. In 2011, I was able to get Susan credentialed and she has provided 90% of the photos on this site, and 100% of the good ones. In the meantime, she has put up with a lot of late hours at racetracks and long drives back home on Sunday nights; along with countless nights of me writing posts, when I could have spent evenings with her. She has been a very good sport over the years and has put up with a lot. I could not have done this without her support. It has been a Godsend having her by my side, to clown around with me for most of these experiences. I am grateful that IndyCar has allowed her credentials, as well.

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So, today marks the beginning of my second decade with this site. I’ve posted over 1,900 articles in that time and have had over 22,000 comments from all of you. That’s not bad for someone who had to be convinced to start it in the first place. I wasn’t sure if I would even last for ten posts, much less ten years.

How long will I keep going? That remains to be seen. I seriously doubt I will be doing this ten years from now. After a year or so, my goal was to make to the Centennial Celebration at IMS in 2011. After that, I wanted to make my five-year anniversary in 2014. Once I reached that, I figured I’d hang around for the 100th Running in 2016. Once we hit that, I figured I’d play it by ear for a while. When this current milestone was in sight, I wanted to make it to the tenth anniversary.

Now that I’ve reached that, I’m back to playing it by ear. I’m still enjoying it and readership is still trending in the right direction. The day it becomes drudgery is the day I’ll stop. There is no point in doing something like this for free, if it’s not fun. At some point, I may scale back to only once or twice a week – or I may just come here one day and hang it up. Again – I’ll just play that by ear.

But for now, we are heading into another Month of May. As usual, I’ll try to have daily weekday posts leading up to the race on May 26, with emphasis on the word try. It’s a busy month and the day job sometimes requires working at home at night, but I’ll do my best. We will also be making the trek to IMS all three weekends in May, so we’ll both be posting those weekends also.

I will have my usual Trivia Contest in a week or so, but it will be a little easier than the last couple of years. I think the last few have been so hard that few bothered to enter last year – so I’m going to have some easier questions.

But there will be a different type of Triva Contest coming even sooner. For the past few months, Susan has been talking to driver’s wives, girlfriends and PR persons about some little-known facts about their significant other/driver. She has compiled this into a more people-centric trivia contest about the current group of drivers, as opposed to my trivia contest that focuses on the past. Look for that one in the next few days, and she offers better prizes than I do.

So, thanks to all of you that have stuck with this site throughout the years. There are many of you that have been here since the beginning, but I’ve also picked up many loyal readers along the way. Without you, this site would be pointless. Now, strap yourself in for another Month of May at Oilpressure.com. And as always, thank you for reading.

George Phillips

20 Responses to “A Day of Celebration”

  1. Congratulations on 10 years. As someone who doesn’t blog on a regular schedule, I appreciate what it takes to write three times a week. Always enjoy your perspective and appreciate your friendship.

  2. congratulations george, that’s a lot of words. and I’ve read most of them.

  3. Congrats George, and thanks for all you do. And of course a big thanks to Susan for letting you do all of this. I’ve been reading for about five years now and I certainly hope to be reading for another ten (or more). I look forward to the annual Tenderloin Hunt!

    • Alan Stewart Says:

      Congratulations on 10 years … I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve agreed with you on one hand, but I respect your work nonetheless. Here’s to another 10 years, soldier.

  4. I look forward to enjoying this post as my work day affords the time, but I just wanted to skip to the comments and offer congrats and my heartfelt thanks George. Oilpressure has been a part of my life the full 10 years. I know this site is your personal passion for the sport, but it’s brought so much entertainment for us the reader. Thanks again buddy! Job well done!

  5. Congratulations George. Thanks for the work you put into this. I enjoy reading your blogs. I personally hope you keep going for a long time.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Congratulations on 10 years! I can’t recall the exact date I started reading this or where I found it, but I know it was in May of 2011. It sounds funny to say this but I slowly read the blog every day it is posted, from work. The white on black makes this easy to read at work discreetly so I appreciate you leaving it that way!

    You are living a dream and we are right there with you! You are my elder by a fair amount of years, old enough to be my dad. I hope I can find the enjoyment that you do when I am your age 🙂

  7. Mike from Vernon Hills Says:

    Congratulations George! Quite an accomplishment. Here’s to another great 10 years!y

  8. billytheskink Says:

    Congratulation on 10 years George! This blog has taken you on quite an adventure and it has been a thrill to read along with that ride. Oilpressure is pretty much always the first racing-related internet stop for me in the mornings. I started reading sometime in 2010, as I recall, and have looked forward to new posts ever since. This site has been my biggest point of engagement with the Indycar fan community and I consider it a critical part of me breaking out of my generally shy shell and meeting you and some of my fellow commenters out at the track.

    I’m truly and genuinely grateful for your efforts and I will be reading as long as you are writing.

  9. James Black Says:

    Congratulations on 10 years, George! I always have a blast hanging out at a race track and this month will be no different. 30-ish year age difference be damned. See you in nine days!

  10. Bruce B Says:

    Awesome George! Congrats on 10 years of committed IndyCar blogging!! Since you are now quite the star, rubbing elbows with Indy legends. Perhaps we the readers should all meet up together this May and buy you a cold pop and tenderloin! 😉

  11. Happy Anniversary, George! Your blog is excellent and I have enjoyed being a part of this community. I am still in awe of all you do for us and appreciate the amount of time, commitment, and effort, you put in to every posting. Thank you!!!

    I hope to see Susan and you at RA in June.

  12. Carburetor Says:

    Congratulations George–and thank you for your wonderful blog! I think I have been reading your posts since almost your beginning and am grateful for your generosity to share with us. Wishing us all an exciting, thrilling, and safe month of racing in May!

  13. Talón de Brea Says:

    Happy anniversary!

    I had been reading your site, but I didn’t take serious notice until your wedding – at IMS! I remember thinking as I was at work, avoiding some dreary assignment by reading Oilpressure, “What a nut! This guy is a real fan. I’m in!”

    Many congratulations on your fine efforts and your great fortune at being able to share your hobby with your co-conspirator, Susan. I thank you and the bloggers you’ve mentioned for providing distinctive individual viewpoints on IndyCar and for getting my interest in the series back to a high level.

  14. Congrats on such a wonderful accomplishment! I know just how hard it is to keep it going. It’s a real testament to your dedication to have over 1900 posts on the regular schedule you’ve kept. If I could find time for ONE a week consistently, I’d be feeling pretty good. Best wishes for your next several years. Something tells me you won’t be hanging it up anytime soon!

  15. Just occurred to me that there should always be cars on the track on May 1st. Even if just practice or something. I’m ready.

  16. PaulSRQ Says:

    Congrats on reaching this milestone. As a very long term reader, I appreciate the fact that you are able to express your true opinion rather than go the stupid comment route just to generate clicks. Thanks for the effort you’ve put in to this site and for taking us along on your trips when we can’t be there too. Hope to see you again at the start of the season in St Pete.

  17. Huge congratulations to you on hitting this milestone, George, as I’m sure that nobody else in the IndyCar blogosphere, past or present is anywhere close to matching your numbers. It’s been a very, very cool ten years, and a lot of fun to keep up with your goings on and opinions over that time. In addition, it’s been a blast to meet up with you at the track (or over some Chinese food), and to interact with and meet others through this site as well. I’d also say that I hope you had a tasty beverage to celebrate your decade of achievement, but I’m certain that Hobbson probably broke one of your back windows out while you were at work today and stole all of the good stuff.

  18. SkipinSC Says:

    Sorry to be late to the party reading this one, but its been busy around here. Congratulations on the 10 year anniversary of the blog. We’ve BOTH seen too many come and go, but yours continues. That, in and of itself is an ACHIEVEMENT!

    Good luck, my friend. Glad we finally got to meet last year.

  19. Britindycarfan26 Says:

    Congrats from London England on tens hope/look forward to the next ten!

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