Guess Where I’m Headed Today

Around the first of the month, I mentioned I might have a surprise. Someone said they couldn’t wait to find out what the surprise was. I tried to tamper expectations because it was no big deal. Someone else guessed I had grown a beard. Seriously? The only reason I delayed saying it, was that at the time, it wasn’t certain. Now it is, After a couple of days rest from attending the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, I am back in the car and headed where? IMS, of course! See…I told you it was no big deal, but it is to me.

For most of the past twenty years, I had always wanted be present at IMS the entire week of practice before the qualifying weekend. I finally fulfilled that wish in 2019. To quote Peter in the film Office Space; “It was everything that I thought it could be”.

Susan was still working in those days. But even if she was not, I don’t think she would’ve joined me. Don’t get me wrong; she really enjoys racing and loves the Month of May. But she has her limits, and has no real desire to spend all day, every day hanging out at the track.

On the other hand; I love my wife and really enjoy having her by my side on race weekends. But there’s a lot to be said for getting up and doing what I want to do right then and there, without running it by her to see if she likes the idea. If I want to go out and sit in the stands to enjoy the sights and sounds of cars going by – I can just do it. One day in 2019, I actually dozed off in the stands with cars running by. It wasn’t that I was tired or bored, it was that I was just that content. If I want to seek out a midday tenderloin, I can do it.

Practice gets underway at Noon each day (except this morning, when it starts at 9:00 am), but I always liked getting to the track early enough to roam the garage area and see the teams getting the cars ready for another day of practice. There is something very peaceful about aimlessly wandering the garage area, sipping on a cup of coffee and smelling ethanol fumes. It’s a great morning habit to get into – for a few days, anyway.

The garage area is where a lot will be happening this week. I guess I’m name-dropping, but I will never forget being in a conversation with Jim Ayello, the former IndyStar reporter, and Bruce Martin of Speed Sport, in the garage area that Wednesday of Practice Week in 2019. We were just talking about whatever, when one of the key guys with the McLaren effort came up and started talking to Bruce (not me). Fernando Alonso was struggling in the car supplied by Carlin. When Bruce asked when they expected to get a handle on things, he smirked “It’s only four identical corners. How difficult can it be?”. He found out a few days later, when Alonso was bumped from the field by Kyle Kaiser and Juncos Racing. A week or two after the 500, that same individual was fired from McLaren.

I was at The Speedway all day, every day from Tuesday until Sunday. I went to Dawson’s a couple of nights, and John Oreovicz invited me to his home one night to grill steaks (name-dropping again). I was immersed in all things IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. The world could’ve come to an end, but if it happened outside of my little bubble – I would have never known.

Susan flew up that Friday night. I was happy to see her when I picked her up at the airport, but she tried to talk to me about other things going on and I had no clue what she was talking about. When Qualifying weekend was over, I knew immediately that I wanted to do it again, possibly as soon as the next May.

Before May rolled around again, COVID hit. The race was moved to August and no one was allowed to go. The next May, the crowd size was restricted to 30% and there was a lot of restrictions placed on media. We were lucky enough to be included in the social-distanced Media Center, because a lot of people were not. But I was not going to press my luck. We settled for attending on the weekends.

Last year, with Susan’s health-issues – I was lucky to get to attend the GP, Qualifying and the race, much less practice.

This year, things are much better. COVID seems to finally a thing of the past. Susan’s health is much better and I have what seems like a good problem to have – so much vacation time built up (eight weeks of PTO and comp time), that I’ve stopped accruing. I need to burn some time so that I can start accruing in both categories again. I was alerted to this fact at the first of April. That’s why I suddenly decided to attend the Open Test last month.

Susan will be flying up on Thursday night, this time. She will be able to be at the track for all of Fast Friday this year, but more importantly; she will be with me on Thursday night to celebrate our eleven-year anniversary of when we were married at IMS – May 18, 2012.


That means I get the best of both worlds. I can have three days of “Me” time at the track, and in town. But then I get Susan with me for the entire Qualifying Weekend, which is actually her favorite weekend at the track. Race Weekend can get a little intense.

Assuming the weather stays decent, for a die-hard fan of the Indianapolis 500 – this has the potential to be the best week of my year. If you’re a casual fan of the race, you might think that is not a very good commentary of my current life. If you are a die-hard fan – you know what I’m talking about, and you are probably just a little jealous. If you are at the track this week and see me, please be sure to stop me to say hi.

I will still have my scheduled posts popping in each morning, but I will also post a Practice Day Wrap-up at the end of each day – assuming a session does not get completely rained out. So be sure and check back here every afternoon this week.

It’s the Month of May, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it.

George Phillips

5 Responses to “Guess Where I’m Headed Today”

  1. Have fun George!

  2. OliverW Says:

    Yup! Very jealous.

  3. rjzelinski Says:

    How much fun that would be. I hope to do that one year.

  4. Big Mac Says:

    But I was really looking forward to seeing a shot of George with a ZZ Top beard.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    Oh that is awesome, George. Have fun, hope the weather starts cooperating.

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