My Favorite Weekend of the Month

By Susan Phillips

My flight last night was not as harrowing as we feared. I got in only 15 minutes late. We slept in some this morning and I feel fairly well rested. Last year at this time, I was struggling through qualifying weekend. I had planned to stay home for the Grand Prix weekend last year. I knew I was in bad shape and I thought three weekends in a row up here would do me in. Of course, I planned to go to the race, but I really wanted to go to qualifying weekend. We went to fast Friday and I managed to get around slowly, but IMS is a big place. What walking I did took its toll.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, George hopped in the shower. As I laid there, I knew there was no way I could handle a day at the track. When he got bout of the shower, I told him to go without me—I would just stay at the hotel all day. Sunday I was no better, but we had to check out of the hotel. I went to the track, but I stayed inside the media center all day with my head down on my desk, just hoping I could go to sleep.

You may remember just two days later, I went into the hospital and missed the race. That was the beginning of what I call My Lost Summer, because I spent almost all summer in the hospital. I got out just before Labor Day.

Things are better now. I still don’t have my stamina and I sometimes walk like a drunk, due to the neuropathy in my feet from the chemo. We went to Barber three weeks ago, and it tired me out, but I did ok. Last week, we came to the GP and I did fine Friday, but the heat got to me a little on Saturday. At one time, a Yellow Shirt thought I was drunk in the garages. George had to explain it was from chemo. Sometimes you have to play the cancer card, but we try not to.

When George came up with his idea of spending the week up here, I couldn’t do it. Not because of my health, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of spending all day, every day at the track. I like going to races, but sometimes it’s just too much.

We finally decided I would fly up Thursday night, because that was our eleventh wedding anniversary, and we’ve never been apart on that date. My flight didn’t get in until 10:30 that night, so we almost missed it. So, here I am at another qualifying weekend one year later.

Some will think I’m crazy, but if I had to pick one weekend out of the three in May, this would be it. I love the qualifying weekend for Indy. I even like it better than the race.

Over the years, we’ve come to know a lot of people up here. They are all here for qualifying plus the race. We will see all of our friends here, in a much more relaxed setting spread over three days. We get to see everyone we want to see, but with not the crowd of race weekend. There are many times where we’ll ask each other what we want to do next. That doesn’t happen on race weekend.

Things are so intense on race weekend, it takes a lot of the fun away. George feels the need to be inside the gate when the bomb goes off. I get it that there are more media parking passes than spots, but he is almost obsessed with getting to the track before anyone else. The last time I came to the race, in 2021, we were on the grounds by 5:20. The bomb goes off at 6:00. That’s ridiculous!

I think part of it is, he wants to beat our friend Paul to the track. Last weekend for the GP, George got mad at me because Paul was at the track and we were still at the hotel. Sometimes George can just take the fun out of being here, ironically in his quest for fun.

But this weekend I’m not going to let him do it. I love qualifying weekend too much. If he wants to go run around all over the place, let him. I’m going to take my sweet time and pace myself. I’m no fun when I’m exhausted.

If you see me staggering around this weekend, don’t think I’m some drunk old lady—come over and talk to me/us. You might give me a welcomed rest, so long as I can sit down somewhere. If I’m walking slowly, don’t feel sorry for me. It’s qualifying weekend. It’s my favorite weekend of May.

6 Responses to “My Favorite Weekend of the Month”

  1. You are not the only one. Qualifications has always been my favorite time at the track. Since 1985 I’ve only missed the year they wouldn’t let us in. There was a stretch when my kids were young that I only went on Qualification weekends. The race is great, but the crowds make it a challenge.

    Glad you can enjoy time at the track. Don’t apologize if you’re not as spry as your typical 20 year old. You have been through a lot!

  2. I am so happy that you are in Indy and at the track. Enjoy your day. BTW, love your shopping stories. Have you taken a good look at the new driver figurines? I am curious what you think.

    Have fun this weekend!!

  3. billytheskink Says:

    I might be inclined to agree. There is a sort of dichotomic relaxed intensity to 500 qualifying. It’s quiet and orderly (as racing activities go) but tremendously tense at the same time.

    And those speeds…

    • James T Suel Says:

      I finally got to meet George and Susan today during fast Friday activities at the speedway. Iam a big fan of Oil Pressure and Susan is truly a remarkable woman! She has been thru a lot . She is a hero!

  4. So glad your flight wasn’t too late. I agree completely- I love qualifying weekend. It’s so easy to keep track of what is going on and it’s very exciting. So bummed we aren’t there this year. Enjoy it all Susan- at your own pace. See you at Road America.

  5. It’s a quest, a quest for fun! I do enjoy qualifying weekends; as much as I can, I bring people to qualifying before attending the 500 to get a feel for the place and it is so much more relaxed.

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