No Direction Home

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!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Grand Prix of Indianapolis

May 16, 2014

Grand Prix of Indianapolis

 photo 150_zps8ee746a9.jpg Simon Pagenaud wins!

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 photo 10320426_10202008987563213_6414557673520617012_n_zps904ee579.jpg Stephanie, Amanda, Jody, Kristi & Michael

The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis can be counted as a success by just about any measure. Critics may have scoffed at the idea of holding an Indy Car race at the speedway to open the month of May and as a lead-up to the Indy 500, but the great turnout, exciting race and decent TV audience made sure that this is one new tradition that will most likely stick around for awhile.

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The curiosity factor and absolutely perfect spring Indiana weather helped attract the crowds which though way less than the masses at the 500, was still pretty good, much of the stands that were available were full and the viewing mounds in the infield were packed. The speedway made sure to have plenty of activities to keep people entertained including the support races featuring Indy Lights and the Mazda Pro Series, a kid’s zone, the Indy Car experience and an amazing classic car show.

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The car show packed the grounds with hundreds of amazing classic cars from every era of automobile manufacturing including production models and classic race cars. It was really cool to wander around and check out the collection of amazing cars. It really added something to the day and it gave fans something to do when cars were not on track racing.

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The lead-up to the race itself did not have anything approaching the tradition and reverence that happens before the 500, but it did have a great fly-over and the traditional command of “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” (since no women drivers were entered). The race was a rare standing start and it really did not work out so well as pole-sitter Sebastian Seevadra somehow stalled on the start, triggering a massive crash as first Carlos Munoz then Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshian smashed into his prone car sending debris flying that even hit honorary starter, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

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It was not the way they wanted to get things going, but thankfully no one was injured and once clean-up was complete the race settled in to a pretty decent race. I sat high in stand H, just outside of one of the two great passing zones which saw plenty of action and passing with cars flying in two and three wide. It was really cool.

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 photo 536e5033a74dddc578eedd05_zpsd7cbd3a5.jpg Mario Andretti & I

Rookie Jack Hawksworth lead for a long period, which was cool to see, as did Ryan Hunter-Reay, but the race turned in to a fuel mileage race with Sinmon Pagenaud breaking through and saving enough fuel to beat Hunter-Reay and a charging Helio CastroNeves for the win. It was a beautiful, fun day at the track and way better than just the ordinary opening day of practice.

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 photo 10307239_10153038148354368_2552745537383876712_n_zps82577e67.jpg Juan Montoya * photo by Kate Shoup

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After the race, I had the good fortune to participate in one of my favorite annual Indy in May traditions, “Dinner with the Ladies”. For the past six years a group of my favorite women have met me for a wonderful dinner while I am here during May for a fun, somewhat raucous and always entertaining evening of sharing stories old and new. I am so fortunate to have such amazing friends, all of whom I have known for thirty years plus (or since they were each about 1 year old).  Thanks so much Amanda, Jody, Kristi and Stephanie again for a great evening. Hope you had fun in Florida Laura- see you next year.

 photo 0022_zpsfc927ea0.jpg Jody, Amanda, Stephanie & Kristi

 photo 004_zps73656987.jpg Deron, Jody & Buddy

Thursday, May 15, 2014

“Everybody's high on consolation…”

May 15, 2014

“Everybody's high on consolation…”

 photo 168_zps81edab76.jpg Daryl Hall

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 photo 200_zps22574b31.jpg Hunter-Reay & Hinch

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 photo 10327255_10152431737751942_1456427713_n_zpsd996274e.jpg Robert Earl Keen

The month of May in Indianapolis has traditionally meant one thing and that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the events leading up to the Indianapolis 500 which is held every Memorial Day weekend. For the past fifteen years or so, the opening of the Speedway has been greeted with a less than enthusiastic sigh as practice opened and this year, breaking tradition, the speedway decided to shake things up by adding a second race to kick off the month of May.

 photo 295_zps00867069.jpg Russell & Tim

 photo 301_zps2825d9e9.jpg Outliers Crew

The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis marks the first time that Indy Cars have ever raced on the road course that has been used in the past by both Formula One and Moto GP motorcycle races. The thought of Indy cars running the opposite way down the main straight at Indy was something of a sacrilege to hard-core old school fans like myself, but I wanted to attend the first race and check it out for myself.
And while I was in Indy for other personal, not so fun reasons, I still managed to be able to take in practice, qualifying and the race as well as attend a wonderful concert at the Murat (Old National) Theatre by 80s icons Hall & Oates and see a number of friends and acquaintances.

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While I was away in Indianapolis, Kathy was enjoying one of our favorite events in Key West, the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. I was so sorry to miss it, but all reports are that it was another huge success with the likes of Robert Earl Keen, Love and Theft, Sara Evans and Kacey Musgraves rocking the island along with hundreds more of the best singer/ songwriters in America. Kathy and friends had an amazing weekend.

 photo 10262087_600087373421176_2047045181879394018_n_zpsb4b6cf77.jpg Robert Earl Keen * photo by Nick Doll

 photo 10363225_725837317458831_4017009355347656769_n_zps2c61e55d.jpg Songwriter Fun!

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For my part, I checked out practice at the Speedway on Thursday with my friends Kevin and Andy, who had free Turn 2 Suite passes with free food and beer overlooking the road course. It was a beautiful day and then a beautiful night as well when my friend Jody and I attended the Hall & Oates concert.

 photo 176_zpsbc43e994.jpg Hall & Oates

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Hall & Oates, fresh off their recent introduction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame played a great show, heavy on their 80s hits. They still sounded great and the crowd loved the entire thing, singing and dancing along to the classic hits. It was a ton of fun.

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 photo 159_zps1e752c84.jpg Jody & Deron

Friday I was back at the track for qualifying and the beautiful warm sunshine had given way to coolness, clouds and occasional downpours of rain. The sight of Indy Cars screaming down the front straight in the rain with huge roostertails of water kicked up behind them was something I had not seen in over forty years of coming to the track. The weather more than likely contributed to the highly unusual front row of  Sebastian Seevadra and rookie Jack Hawksworth.

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 photo 203_zps6d57e369.jpg Martin Plowman

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It was another great day at the track, in spite of the rain. I got to meet Country music legend Reba McIntire who was hanging around in the garage area with Mario Andretti. After qualifying, I went downtown to check out a couple of Indianapolis Breweries, the first Flat 12 Bierwerks is featuring a new beer based on Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe.

 photo 10264806_10152127994191872_4472266675024766924_n_zpscfe17488.jpg Mario & Reba

 photo 234_zps8472c6da.jpg Juan Montoya

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My next stop was to see my friends at Outliers Brewery, where I had a couple of cold ones and hung out with my friends Tim, Russell and Hugh before driving north into Broad Ripple to check out the Broad Ripple gallery walk and all my friends at the wonderful Editions Limited Gallery where my mother used to work.

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 photo 306_zps82400192.jpg the Mallon's

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