Archive for November, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in IndyCar on November 25, 2020 by Oilpressure

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We have all had a tough and challenging year. Personally, I’ve never had any year even approach what we have experienced in 2020. Susan was diagnosed with one of the deadliest cancers out there. Three weeks after Susan’s diagnosis, my mother literally keeled over and died unexpectedly. Just last week, even the Mayo Clinic decided that Susan’s tumor was inoperable and we would need to seek other treatments elsewhere,  because the radical surgery they were proposing was no longer possible.

On a more selfish front, the IndyCar season took a huge hit for fans that attend races. St. Petersburg was postponed at the last minute. One of our favorite races to attend at Barber Motorsports Park, was cancelled and was never even considered for rescheduling. The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was moved to August and then – again at the last minute – was held without any fans present. The possibility of attending the Indianapolis 500, even in August, is what preserved my sanity in a very insane time. It was suddenly taken away.

I have a special-needs daughter (Katie), who has lived in a group home since 2011. She is thirty-two years old and has the intellect of a four year-old. Her entire life revolves around the happiness she experiences at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each Thanksgiving, it has become an annual tradition for me to leave work on Wednesday at lunchtime to go pick up Katie and bring her back to my office for the afternoon. The staff even puts up the Christmas tree early, just for Katie – so that she can see and enjoy it. Here is a photo I took of Katie sitting in my office that day in 2017.

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That evening we would drive to “Grandmommy’s” to spend Thanksgiving at my mother’s. Even last year when she was ninety-five, my mother prepared most of the meal. It wasn’t because we sat around and made her do it, that’s just the way she was.

For the first time in my life, I will not be spending Thanksgiving at my mother’s house – the house I grew up in  – this year. To make matters worse, I’ve been notified that due to COVID-19, Katie’s group home is in lockdown and she will not be allowed out to spend this Thanksgiving with us.

After the year we’ve had, you would think that we would be down-trodden and not be thankful for anything this November. That would not be true.

First of all, I am thankful that Susan still has many options. Even though she has been diagnosed with a horrible disease – things are going about as well as they possibly could. Her cancer has not spread at all. It is still contained within the pancreas. The involvement with blood vessels makes it inoperative, but it has not spread. Furthermore, she is responding very well to the chemo. Plus she is tolerating it much better than most. She has completed nine of twelve rounds and has never skipped one. If she maintains this schedule, she will complete her chemo regimen on New Year’s Eve.

Due to the nature of this disease, this is a very harsh chemo. It has to be. Consequently, many drop out around the halfway point. They simply can’t take it. Susan’s mental and physical toughness is serving her well, and I’m very thankful for that. I fully believe that she is going to stave off this cancer, for a few years at least – and there will be better days ahead, when we can attend races and go on other types of vacations.

I am also thankful that we went to Road America in July. We had already bought our tickets, long before Susan got sick. As it turned out, we were scheduled to fly to Wisconsin just two days after her diagnosis. I gave her the option for us to not go, but she wanted to. It ended up being tremendous therapy for both of us. We didn’t know it at the time, but that turned out to be our only race to go to in the 2020 IndyCar season. We are very thankful we went.

On another personal note, my job was up for re-bid this fall. I work in a quasi-government field in the contract world. Since 2017, my job has been up for re-bid three times. I have been sitting in the same office with the same computer and phone number since 2014. However, since 2017 – I’ve had three different employers in that time. Each employer change also means losing vacation time and changing healthcare insurance. I was staring at a fourth employer starting Jan 1. Fortunately, I learned on Nov 2, that I was one of the few in my office whose contract would be retained. I am very thankful to not be changing insurance providers in the middle of Susan’s fight with cancer.

Plus, neither of us ever missed a single day at work due to COVID-19. More importantly, we never missed a paycheck. There are a lot of people reading this site that cannot say the same. We are both very thankful for that.

On my final personal note, I’m grateful for the long life my mother led and for the way she passed away. She had just turned ninety-six, but had the mind and energy of someone my age. She was very active and still drove. She drove to the bank just three days before she died unexpectedly. She began having breathing problems on a Saturday. My brother took her to the doctor on Monday to see what the problem was. She literally keeled over and died in his arms at the doctor’s office. While that wasn’t an ideal situation for my brother to experience, I am very thankful she hardly suffered, she got to spend her last night in her own bed with her mind intact and she didn’t die alone. Sign me up for that.

On the racing side, I am very thankful that Roger Penske now owns the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I just don’t think that Hulman and Company had deep enough pockets to sustain the series through the revenue shortfall that the pandemic produced. While I’ve not seen any of the improvements to IMS in person, I know they are substantial. While Penske himself may regret the timing of his purchase, we fans are very thankful that he bought everything when he did. I shudder to think what we might be looking at had things stayed status quo. Fortunately, that’s one thing we don’t need to worry about.

I am also thankful that despite the economic uncertainty that 2020 has produced, the NTT IndyCar Series is still growing. We’ve learned of two new cars added to the paddock for 2021, and we’ve not heard of any not returning (at least that I can think of). I know Carlin is still up in the air, but things could be a lot worse. I am very thankful for that.

I am cautiously optimistic that the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on schedule with fans. I realize that the attendance may still be greatly reduced – but I am hopeful that we will be in attendance next May.

I am also very thankful for the friends we have met through this site. Many have turned into lifelong friends that have long since transcended racing. Paul Dalbey, James Black, Tad & Silvia Pierson, John Oreovicz, Eric Swarzkopf, Kim Pearson, Mike Silver and Patti Nolan are just a few that we see at all the races we attend, that we have become more than just acquaintances with. I know there are many that I didn’t list and I apologize. I just pulled a few names off the top of my head.

At the risk of sounding like a name-dropper, I won’t mention the many of the IndyCar professional media that have gone out of their way to lend us support; but you would all recognize each of their names.

There are also many of you that we’ve never even met, that have sent gifts to Susan in the past few months. Many more that we never met have sent us well-wishes through this site, e-mail and social media. You have no idea how much support that has given Susan, and we are very thankful for each and every one of you.

Susan and I are not the only ones that have had a tough year. Many of you have had it even worse. You may be hard-pressed to find anything to be thankful for. We don’t have that problem. We still have a lot to be thankful for. We are both optimistic that things will be much better in 2021, not only personally – but as race fans.

We both want to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. It will be very different for us, but for many of you as well. Let’s all make the best of it. Better days are ahead.

George and Susan Phillips

Please note:  As I usually do at this time of year, I am taking a couple of days off over the Thanksgiving holiday. There will be no post here on Friday Nov 27, or Monday Nov 30. I will return here on Wednesday Dec 2. Enjoy the holiday! – GP

Everyone Thinks They Are an Expert

Posted in IndyCar on November 23, 2020 by Oilpressure

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If you are a parent, think back to those days when you and your significant-other were expecting for the first time. It seemed that anyone, male or female, that had already gone through childbirth was an expert that was more than willing to tell you exactly what you needed to do. Often times, we found what one person told us today was the exact opposite of what someone had told us just the day before. Having been through the experience made them the authority on anything related to being a new parent.

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A Not-So Good Update For Today

Posted in IndyCar on November 20, 2020 by Oilpressure

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I had a post almost halfway done for today by Wednesday night. I had planned to finish it on Thursday night and have it up here today (Friday). But sometimes life has other plans.

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Mourning the Loss of the Mouse House

Posted in IndyCar on November 18, 2020 by Oilpressure

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I consider myself a traditionalist. Some say I’m just old and like old things. While that’s really quite true, as AJ Foyt would say – I was a traditionalist even as a teenager. I was told I am old in my ways, many times while I was in college. That’s partly where my “Change is Bad” mantra comes from.

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A Needed Change at IndyCar on NBC

Posted in IndyCar on November 16, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Toward the end of Robin Miller’s Mailbag last week, there was a question asking if there was any way to convince NBC to bring Jon Beekhuis back to the IndyCar broadcasts. That is something I have been advocating for, for a while now. In fact, I prefer Beekhuis in the booth instead of on pit lane. In Miller’s response, he alluded to an online petition that a couple of fans had started to bring him back.

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A Win-Win For All Involved

Posted in IndyCar on November 13, 2020 by Oilpressure

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We’ve known for a while that Helio Castroneves had set his sights on an IndyCar return, even though his IndyCar tenure with Team Penske had come to a close. Castroneves is still with Team Penske’s Acura program in IMSA through this weekend, when their season comes to a close at Sebring. After this weekend, his time at Penske will be done after more than twenty years.

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Another Meaning to Indianapolis 500 Veterans

Posted in IndyCar on November 11, 2020 by Oilpressure

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Today is Veterans Day. Many people don’t seem to know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, although it is a simple distinction. Memorial Day honors those that gave their life during military service; hence the somber playing of Taps, just before the start of the Indianapolis 500. People also confuse Veterans Day with Armed Forces Day, which honors those that are currently serving in our armed forces.

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