It’s Time to Turn the Page

geothumbnail10
We’ve all had a week and a half to unpack, digest and dissect the Indianapolis 500 – and to fully understand what an enjoyable race it was to watch in person, as well as on TV. When people at work who didn’t even watch it would ask me if we had a good time, my answer was always the same – Ten years from now, I think I will still look back at the 2021 Indianapolis 500 as one of my favorites in my lifetime.

That’s a pretty short list, considering it covers almost sixty years. That list includes:

1965: Simply because it was my first one to attend.

1967: Because Parnelli Jones dominated the race only to come up short with three laps remaining; handing AJ Foyt his third Indianapolis 500 win.

1968: Similar circumstances, but there were three turbines. As a kid, I was pulling for Joe Leonard. Bobby Unser came away with his first of three Indianapolis 500 wins.

1982: Gordon Johncock and Rick Mears. Need I say more?

1987: Al Unser wins his fourth Indianapolis 500 in dramatic fashion.

1989: Emmo and Little Al

1991: So many storylines. This race reignited my fire to start attending again, for the first time since 1972.

1993: Strictly for personal reasons – it was the last year my father attended the race with me. He passed away a year and a half later.

2005: A great race on a beautiful day. I had been a Wheldon fan since his debut in 2002 with Panther.

2011: Loved seeing Wheldon win his second, under the wildest of circumstances.

2013: TK finally gets his win, after being so close, so many times.

2021: Helio gets that elusive fourth win, after everyone assumed it would never happen.

The 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 resonated with so many fans. There were a few of the expected naysayers that had to comment on his tax situation, or how he couldn’t compare to Foyt, Unser and Mears; but in all honesty – those people stayed mostly silent over the past ten days. This was a universally popular win among most fans. If you add in the perfect weather, and the crowd environment of people so happy to be out and close to normal – it will stand out as one of the most memorable days I’ve ever spent at The Speedway.

As enjoyable as it was however, it is time to turn the page.

For the last several years, the logic has been that in order to capitalize on the momentum of the Indianapolis 500, the teams must immediately pack up and head to another venue and be ready to practice by Friday morning. That didn’t happen this year, for whatever reason and I liked it. Since the season kicked off in mid-April, Mother’s Day is the only weekend that the NTT IndyCar Series has had off. Not only do I think the teams welcomed an off weekend after a long Month of May that started with a double-header in Texas and saw three weekends of track activity at IMS; I think fans were ready for a break. I know I was.

We didn’t go to Texas or St. Petersburg, but we went to Barber and the three weekends in a row at IMS. I relished the break to do yard work this past weekend and to simply stay home and not be glued to the TV. The local weather forecast for this weekend is not great, so I won’t feel guilty watching two days of racing at Belle Isle this weekend. By then, I’ll be ready for more racing action. As good as it was, we can’t keep reliving Helio’s fourth victory over and over. There is now a season championship to follow and other compelling storylines that have been going on since the start of the season, or were born from the Indianapolis 500.

Most know that I am not a fan of Belle Isle, but I think I like it better now that it is two weeks after the 500 instead of the following week. Like it or not, it is an important weekend. It seems that if you have a problem on Saturday at Belle Isle, that problem will follow a driver into Sunday. There were double points on the table a week and a half ago at Indianapolis. It’s almost the same scenario this weekend, with two races in two days. Someone’s season could take a major turn for the better or worse after this weekend.

Immediately following Belle Isle is Road America, back on its traditional date after being pushed back into July last year. We’ve already turned the page at our house. Since Road America will be our next race to travel to, we took down our Wing & Wheel flag and replaced it with a Road America flag.

Flag

It used to be that we suffered from post-May letdown in the days after the Indianapolis 500. Once the series returned to Road America in 2016, we have made the pilgrimage up to Elkhart Lake every year since. It really helps to get over the blues following all of the build-up for the Month of May, when we know that just a few weeks after the 500, we get to go to another one of our favorite places.

It looks as if the Fourth of July at Mid-Ohio will end up being a double-header, although that has not been confirmed yet. That will make up for losing the Honda Indy Toronto for the second year in a row, due to continued COVID restrictions in Canada. I’m wondering now if that race will ever return.

After a four week break following Mid-Ohio, comes the long-awaited inaugural running of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. 2008 was the last time IndyCar ran in my hometown. To say we are excited is an understatement. They have done an excellent job keeping a buzz going, especially considering that NASCAR will be racing at Nashville Superspeedway on Father’s Day weekend. Once that event is over, this town will be all abuzz with IndyCar coming to town.

One week later, the series returns to IMS for the shared weekend with NASCAR that fans never got to experience last year. We hope to be there as well. The very next weekend will close out our personal IndyCar season when we travel to Gateway for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. That is a fun event to attend, because St. Louis is big on this event and it shows in the stands every year.

The series closes out with the west coast swing at Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. Long Beach is on our “to-do” list, but we want to go in their traditional slot of mid-to-late April – not late September.

So, as you can see – as great as the 2021 Indianapolis 500 was and will continue to be in our minds, it is time to turn the page and get ready for the championship run in the NTT IndyCar Series. It’s going to be an interesting summer.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “It’s Time to Turn the Page”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:

    I’d like to make a different drink here in having Oval Track Heroes, as opposed to more than one in IndyCar and that has been since Bryan Clauson loss 5 Years Ago. I would think the current IndyCar roster with an IRL Era Schedule would have caused more problems than it solves and no one wants to play Ne-Yo the same. (The hidden fact was he was the last TRL and 106 and Park #1 Respectively)

  2. What about Nashville for double header replacing Toronto? Would be better than double header Mid-Ohio

    • I think that since Green Savoree Racing Promotions are the promoters for both Toronto and Mid-Ohio, it makes sense to give them an extra race. Plus, with Nashville being a new event, I don’t think they want to change up anything on their first go-around. I could be wrong, but that’s my thinking. – GP

      • billytheskink Says:

        Additionally, Toronto’s date was also a week after the Mid-Ohio date, so the series could run events there on back-to-back weekends, a short drive from the shops of nearly every team, if they have to do so in order to keep the Toronto TV time slot. I don’t think NBC will make Indycar do this, but it works if they have to.

        I expect doubleheaders Portland and Gateway are also in the running as Toronto replacements. The decision on this will need to come soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: