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!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Indy Eleven

May 20, 2014

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Indy Eleven

The Indianapolis 500 qualifying format was changed once again this year in an attempt to make the two days more interesting to fans and make for better television. I am not one to favor the destruction of tradition, but with only thirty-three entrants for thirty-three starting positions, the tradition has already pretty much left the building and this format was about as exciting as it could be all things considered.

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 photo 297_zpsf1e63b5f.jpg Me & Kurt Busch

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The new format features the thirty-three starting positions locked in with the fastest thirty-three cars on Saturday but with the actual starting positions determined on day two with positions 10-33 qualifying first and then a fast nine shoot out for the Pole position and top nine postions late in the day on Sunday.

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The first day of qualifying was actually great as cars were able to have unlimited shots to improve their times and it made for close to 90 attempts and pretty much continuous qualifying attempts all day with the exception of when the track was closed due to light rain showers. It was pretty exciting stuff.

 photo 288_zps1597560e.jpg Jack Hawksworth with members of the US military

Ed Carpenter led the qualifying session with a speed of 230.661 and the fast nine included Carlos Munoz, Helio Castroneves,Hincliffe, Power, Newgraden, Andretti, Hildebrand and Pagenaud.  NASCAR driver Kurt Busch was just outside in 10th place and may have made it if not having to leave early to head to Charlotte.

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The Speedway also added a live concert in the Pagoda Plaza featuring the band Live, who also happen to be a sponsor for the car of James Hinchcliffe. Live was mega-popular back in the nineties but the split with former lead singer Ed Kowalczyk kept Live from really continuing their success .I was not expecting much, but the band was really good even without Kowalczyk. They played most all of their hits including “Lightning Crashes” and “The Dolphin’s Cry” and the crowd really enjoyed the band. It was pretty cool to enjoy a concert in addition to the on track activity.

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The evening after day 1 of qualifying, I headed down to IUPUI to meet with my friends Ted, Tim, Wes and Melanie to join in their tailgating in anticipation of a game from the newest pro team in Indianapolis, the NASL soccer league’s Indy Eleven. Playing in their first season, the Indy Eleven are a welcome addition to Indy’s sports landscape and if this game was any indication one that will be around for a long time.

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The game was sold out and Michael Carroll Stadium was packed with a vociferous crowd supporting the hometown team as they played the Ottawa Fury. Unfortunately the Eleven were not able to capture their first win, falling by a score of 4-2. Their record fell to 0-4-2. It was a great night nonetheless and a fun new activity for the people of Indianapolis.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Hinchtown Hammer Down

May 19, 2014

 photo 018_zps140088bc.jpg Kirsten & Kellie

 photo 007_zpsfad31a33.jpg Me & Hinch

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 photo 074_zps7a1222ac.jpg James Hinchcliffe

Hinchtown Hammer Down

It is not too often that I really get to combine two of my passions at the same moment but luckily that happened to me last week when I was able to combine my love of craft beer and Indy Car racing at the beloved Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had been planning on attending the final practice prior to qualifying, known as “Fast Friday’ already but when I received a facebook invitation to the Flat 12 Brewery suite along the main straight it was an offer I could not refuse.

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Flat 12 is one of the many fine Indianapolis based microbreweries that have been selling delicious small batch craft beer. In honor of the Indy 500 and more specifically Andretti Autosports driver James Hinchcliffe, the brewery recently introduced a new craft beer to their expanding line-up, Hinchtown Hammer Down . The beer is a delicious golden ale and is available regionally throughout the central Indiana market where Flat 12 beer is sold.

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The brewery put out an invitation through their facebook page for the first few fans who responded to get free passes to the Flat 12 beer suite at the Speedway on Fast Friday where free beer and food would be available in the comfort of the cushy suite. I was quick to jump on the offer and ended up hanging out in the suite with mostly just Flat 12 brewery folks and driver James Hinchcliffe and his friends and family who also spent a lot of time there mostly due to the rain that fell most of the day at the track. It was a really cool experience.

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 photo 024_zps76ac752c.jpg Dexter & Corey

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The cars really only got in less than an hour of running all day due to the intermittent showers and thankfully I had suite access which was dry, loaded with wonderful craft beer from Flat 12 and a buffet of catered food as well as fascinating people. Hinch was there much of the day along with his girlfriend Kirsten, her sister Kellie who was in from Austalia for the month of May. I also got to meet and hang out with his father and his sister Rebecca and a couple of his childhood friends, who were in from Toronto.

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It was a truly unique and interesting experience to be able to meet and hang out with Hinch and his inner circle. They were all just as nice as you might expect considering he is one of the most personable and funny Indy Car drivers ever. The folks from Flat 12 were equally nice and even the few other fans in attendance were pretty damn cool.

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It was one of the few times I can recall not being disappointed by a rainout at the track, I even took some time to head over to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to check out their display of Indy Cars from the Turbine era in the mid to late sixties. Many of the famous turbine whoosh mobiles were on hand and it was a very cool chance to get an up close and personal look at the famous machines. Watching the turbines run in the late sixties with thir bright dayglow STP orange colors and strange sounds is one of my earliest memories of coming to the track when I was a small child.

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It was a really cool day at the track and I even did get to see a bit of cars running with Ed Carpenter being the first to top 230 mph in practice during the very limited time that cars were actually running. Thanks so much to Brent for opening up his suite, to Flat 12 and to Hinch and his family, friends and fans for making it such a cool experience. I sure hope they do that again.

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 photo 104_zpsd7652c78.jpg Ed Carpenter

 photo 10259965_10152126959006872_2932931560298797485_n_zps94b57a63.jpg Superfan