A Somber Moment on a Glorious Day

This afternoon, Susan and I attended a memorial service for a legend at IndyCar race tracks that most people had never heard of – Honda’s TE McHale. I would be lying if I said I knew TE McHale. I never met the man, but I knew who he was when I saw him.

He was a fixture at the Honda Hospitality tent, where we tend to eat most of our meals at race tracks. He had explicit rules that in order to eat a dessert, you had to eat a serving of Brussel Sprouts, on days they were served – which was often.

McHale passed away in December, but they held a brief Celebration of Life today just after lunch. Why did we attend if we never met him? Because we knew what he meant to our friends at Honda Hospitality.

Although he was often seen sitting on a golf cart, just in front of their coach and tent – he did so much more behind the scenes. Not only was he head of Public Relations for Honda’s motorsports program, McHale was a friend to team owners and a confidant to many drivers.

Many members of McHale’s family were in attendance, but when you saw the team owners and drivers that came – you understood the range oh his impact. The celebration was hosted by IndyCar’s Dave Furst. Guest speakers who shared personal stories were Indianapolis 500 winners Bobby Rahal and Alexander Rossi. But with a look around the crowd, I spotted Graham Rahal, Michael Shank, Marshall Pruett, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe and Dario Franchitti. There may have been more. We took no photos, as I felt that would have been inappropriate.

His family did not speak, but Melissa Fox of Honda Hospitality read a letter from TE’s brother, who could not attend. There was laughter and there were tears. It was a somber and different way to kick off the racing weekend, but it was meaningful. I’m glad we did it.

IndyCar practice gets underway in about an hour (3:40 EST, on Peacock). We will be heading out shortly. Please check back later.

George Phillips

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