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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grand Marshal

October 10, 2009

Photobucket "Drivers Start Your Engines"

Photobucket Dario Franchitti

Grand Marshal


This year, the Indy Racing League changed their schedule and switched the race at Homestead Miami Speedway from the beginning of the season in March to the last race of the season in October. This means that the championship for the IRL would be decided at Homestead, along with the championships for the Indy Lights series and the Rolex Grand Am series. It also meant that Kathy & I could attend both the St. Pete race and the race at Homestead as they are no longer on back to back weekends.

Photobucket Tony Kanaan


Photobucket Sarah Fisher

We headed up early Friday morning to be able to catch both some of the Indy Car practice and the qualifying and the Indy Lights race on Friday evening. Once at the track, we were walking through the paddock when we were approached by three young women from the track who asked us if we would like to serve as the Grand Marshal for the Indy Lights race. Serving as such, I would give the traditional command to start engines and then Kathy & I would ride in the Pace Car just prior to the race.

Photobucket Grand Marshal


In more than 40 years of attending races, I have never had such a cool & unique opportunity (which by the way included hot pit passes). Kathy & I quickly agreed to meet at the media center to serve as Grand Marshalls prior to the evening race.

Photobucket Kathy in the Pace Car


In the interim, we spent the day watching Indy Car practice and Grand Am practice before watching the Indy Car qualifying from pit row. The weather was unseasonably hot, with record high temperatures in the low 90s which had us sweating in the heat, but the qualifying was good as championship contenders Dario Franchitti & Scott Dixon claimed the first two spots. The championship chase featured those two and Ryan Briscoe separated by only 8 points meaning whoever won the race, would capture the championship.

Photobucket Graham Rahal

Photobucket TK's helmet

Photobucket Graham Rahal

Photobucket Marco & Michael Andretti with Tony Kanaan

After watching Dario celebrate his pole position award in Victory Lane, it was time for us to assume our duties. It was strange being in Victory Lane and being featured on National television on the Versus network as we were introduced to the crowd. Next we were led out to the start finish line where I delivered the command “Drivers Start Your Engines” with as much gusto as I could measure. It was a pretty cool and special moment for me, yet the coolest part was getting into the pace car and leading the field around at speeds near 100 mph. We did two laps before pulling off as the cars took the green flag. It was amazing.

Photobucket Dario wins the Pole

Photobucket Ashley Judd (Dario's wife) celebrates!

Photobucket Dario

The race was pretty damn exciting as well as Mario Romancini beat J. R. Hildebrand to the finish line by 0.0057 of a second ( The second closest victory in Indy Lights history). Hildebrand won the Indy Lights championship and we really enjoyed our first day at the track.

Photobucket Kathy

Photobucket My buddy Jason



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